Charlevoix, Pierre François Xavier de
CHARLEVOIX, PIERRE FRANÇOIS XAVIER DE
Jesuit educator and historian; b. Saint-Quentin, France, Oct. 24, 1682; d. La Flèche, France, Feb. 1, 1761. The son of François de Charlevoix, deputy attorney general, and Antoinette (Forestier) de Charlevoix, he entered the Society of Jesus in Paris in 1698. He was sent to Canada, where he taught in the Jesuit college at Quebec from 1705 to 1709. After returning to France in 1709, he was assigned to the College of Louis-le-Grand, Paris. In 1720 he was commissioned by the French government to return to New France to seek a new route to the Western sea. In the pursuit of this goal, he journeyed through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River, reaching New Orleans early in 1722. He returned to France the following year to report his lack of success, but expressed his readiness to continue the mission, an offer that was not accepted. He resumed his teaching career for a time and then served as editor (1733–55) of Mémoires de Trévoux, a monthly journal published by the Jesuits from 1701 to 1762.
Charlevoix's published works include Histoire de l'éstablissement, des progrès et de la décadence du christianisme dans l'empire du Japon (Paris 1715), revised as Histoire et description générale du Japon (Paris 1736); La vie de la Mère Marie de l'Incarnation (Paris 1724); Histoire de l'Isle Espagnole ou de Saint Domingue (Paris 1730); Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France (Paris 1744); and Histoire du Paraguay (Paris 1756). His Histoire de la Nouvelle France, the first general history of Canada to be published, was translated into English by J. G. Shea (6 v. New York 1866–72; new ed. New York 1900). The appendix of the original contained the journal of his American voyage in the form of a series of letters to the Duchess de Lesdiguières, compiled to describe the country through which he journeyed as well as the lives and customs of the inhabitants, both native and European-born. It had a separate title, Journal historique (1744); it was first translated into English and published in London (1761), and later edited by Louise P. Kellogg (Chicago 1923).
Bibliography: j. e. roy, "Essai sur Charlevoix," Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, ser. 3, v.1 (1907). c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (Brussels-Paris 1890–1932) 2:1075–80.
[r. n. hamilton]
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