[Remarks on travel in 1760 letter to Sophie Volland]
in Lettres à Sophie Volland
|Publisher||Nouvelle Revue Française|
|Type||Letter of advice|
|Physical Description||8°, 3 vols, pp. 353, 357, 320.|
Advice on educational benefits of travel
General discussion of the utility of travel
Moral considerations of travel
In a letter written to Sophie on October 14th 1760, Diderot briefly discusses the idea of travel. He introduces one ‘père Hoop’, who has travelled in his youth and would like to travel again late in life. ‘Father Hoop’, is a recurring character in Diderot’s works, and is difficult to identify with certainty. Gianluigi Goggi has suggested that 'Hoop' is an alter ego, or narrative device, through which Diderot can present his ideas. See Gianluigi Goggi, ‘Spinoza, le mariage des prêtres et la théocratie: sur une lettre de Diderot à Sophie Volland’, in Apprendre à porter sa vue au loin: Hommage à Michèle Duchet, Sylvian Albertan-Coppola ed., (2009), pp. 257-276, 273.
In his subsequent remarks Diderot criticizes the practice of travelling unless it is conducted between the ages 18-25 (in the later edition of his collected letters this is changed to 18-22.) Once a man is settled in life and has a family he should not travel. This idea is later repeated in his comments on the 'immoral' traveller in 'Salon de 1767', describe elsewhere in this database.
The edition quoted is the first complete edition of Diderot's letters to Sophie Volland, edited by Andrè Babelon, and appearing in 1930. It contains the letters written from 1759 to 1784 - many of the other letters are lost.
Master Copy: Bibliothèque Nationale de France Paris 8-LN27-63968 (1-3)
Digital copy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.