Supplément au voyage de Bougainville  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Supplément au voyage de Bougainville, ou dialogue entre A et B sur l'inconvénient d'attacher des idées morales à certaines actions physiques qui n'en comportent pas. ("Addendum to the Journey of Bougainville, or dialogues between A and B on the inconvenients of binding moral ideas to some physical actions which bear none") is a philosophical dialogue published in 1772, and written in reaction to Bougainville's Voyage autour du monde.

Diderot describes dialogues which are pretexts to discuss slavery, colonisation, the catholic faith and other subjects typical of the Age of Enlightenment.

The book describes the geography, biology and anthropology of Argentina (then a Spanish colony), Patagonia, Tahiti and Indonesia (then a Dutch colony). The book was a sensation, especially the description of Tahitian society, which Bougainville depicted as an earthly paradise where men and women lived in blissful innocence, far from the corruption of civilisation.

Bougainville's descriptions powerfully illustrated the concept of the noble savage and influenced the utopian thoughts of philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau before the advent of the French Revolution. Denis Diderot's book Supplément au voyage de Bougainville retells the story of Bougainville's landing on Tahiti, narrated by an anonymous reader to one of his friends; this fictional approach to Bougainville's expedition, along with Diderot's description of the Tahitians as noble savages, was meant to criticise Western ways of living and thinking.

In the later 18th century, the published voyages of Captain James Cook and Louis Antoine de Bougainville seemed to open a glimpse into an unspoiled Edenic culture that still existed in the un-Christianized South Seas. Their popularity inspired Diderot's Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville (1772), a scathing critique of European sexual hypocrisy and colonial exploitation.

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