Map of Tendre  

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"The first city at the lower end of the map is New Friendship. Now, inasmuch as love may be due to esteem, to gratitude, or to inclination, there are three cities called Tenderness, each situated on one of three different rivers that are approached by three distinct routes. In the same manner, therefore, that we speak of Cumes on the Ionian Sea and Cumes on the Sea of Tyrrhinth, so is there Tenderness-on-Inclination, Tenderness-on-Esteem, and Tenderness-on-Gratitude. Yet, as the affection which is due to inclination needs nothing to complete it, there is no stopping place on the way from New Friendship there. But to go from New Friendship to Tenderness-on-Esteem is very different. Along the banks are as many villages as there are things little and big which create that esteem of which affection is the flower. From New Friendship the river flows to a place called Great Wit, because it is there that esteem generally begins. Beyond are the agreeable hamlets of Pretty Verses and Billets Doux, after which come the larger towns of Sincerity, Big Heart, Honesty, Generosity, Respect, Punctuality, and Kindness. On the other hand, to go from New Friendship to Tenderness-on-Gratitude, the first place reached is Complaisance, then come the borough of Submission, and, next, Delicate-Attentions. From the latter Assiduousness is reached and, finally, Great Services. This place, probably because there are so few that get there is the smallest of all. But adjoining it is Obedience and contiguous is Constancy. That is the most direct route to Tenderness-on-Gratitude. Yet, as there are no routes in which one may not lose one’s way, so, if, after leaving New Friendship, you went a little to the right or a little to the left, you would get lost also. For if, in going from Great Wit, you took to the right, you would reach Negligence, keeping on you would get to Inequality, from there you would pass to Lukewarm and Forgetfulness, and presently you would be on the lake of Indifference. Similarly if, in starting from New Friendship you took to the left, one after another you would arrive at Indiscretion, Perfidiousness, Pride, Tittle-Tattle, Wickedness and, instead of landing at Tenderness-on-Gratitude, you would find yourself at Enmity, from which no boats return."--Historia Amoris A History of Love Ancient and Modern (1906) by Edgar Saltus

The Map of Tendre
The Map of Tendre

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The Map of Tendre (Carte du Tendre) is a map of the imaginary country called Kingdom of Tenderness.

It was produced by several hands (including Catherine de Rambouillet) and was published as an engraving (attributed to François Chauveau) in the first part of Madeleine de Scudéry's 1654-61 novel Clelia.

It shows a geography entirely based around the theme of love according to the Précieuses of that era: the river of Inclination flows past the villages of "Billet Doux" (amorous letters), "Petits Soins" (Small cares) and so forth.


Allegorical geography

The map shows a geography entirely based around the theme of love according to the Précieuses of that era.

'The way through this pastoral country of the affections begins at Nouvelle Amitié and leads (ignoring dead-ends such as the Lake of Indifference) by three alternative routes to either Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance, Tendre-sur-Inclination, or Tendre-sur-Estime.

On the map the river of Inclination flows directly to Tendre-sur-Inclination, showing mutual affection as the shortest way to love. Unsuccessful suitors, however, have to find their way to love ("Tendre") through two possible routes. One leads through the villages of "Billet Doux" (Love Letter), "Petits Soins" (Little Trinkets) and so forth and ends at "Tendre-sur-Estime", the suitor having successfully convinced the lady of his worth. The other route leads to "Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance", the names of the villages showing how patience, faithfulness, and constant attention will eventually soften a lady's heart.

Straying from those routes is not recommended, as one might fall into the "lake of Indifference".

Passion by contrast was left on the fringes, where 'lies La Mer Dangereuse, rocky but otherwise uncharted, and beyond that again are Terres Inconnues.

Comment by Raoul Vaneigem

Reclaiming our humanity is reinventing La Carte du Tendre, in which the desire to play with beings and things is allowed to claim and heighten the pleasures long dismissed as garbage. Our progressions gropingly discovered a world to explore and create, like an infant whose training consists of finding what's agreeable and avoiding what's misfortunate. The construction of destiny isn't anything but this. --Raoul Vaneigem interviewed by Francois Bott in the 12 September 2003 issue of Le Monde. Translated from the French by NOT BORED!, 28 October 2003.) [1]


La Carte du Tendre was used in the opening credits of Louis Malle's Les Amants.

See also

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