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A woman botanist in Rousseau’s footsteps: Clémence Lortet’s Botanical Walks (ca.1811)

Abstract : This study presents for the first time a partial translation of Clémence Lortet’s manuscript entitled “Promenades Botaniques” (Botanical Walks), which had remained unpublished and little known until recently. Clémence Lortet, born Richard (1772–1835), was a student and friend of physician and botanist Jean- Emmanuel Gilibert. Although she shunned publicity for most of her life, Lortet was a key figure of botany in the Lyons area in the period 1808–1835. While all her works were published under the names of her collaborators (Gilibert and others), she was instrumental in the founding of the Lyons branch of the Linnean Society. A staunch defender of the newly born French Republic, and closely connected with Freemasonry, she helped botanist G. Battista Balbis safely relocate from Italy to France. She also prompted collaborations and exchanges among botanists based in the Lyons area. Her Botanical Walks provided readers with a floristic guide. Lortet also filled her itineraries with personal memories, lyrical expressions and esthetic appreciations of various sceneries, wherein she emulates Rousseau’s Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1782). Finally, her text can also be read as a moving homage paid to the memory of Gilibert, her teacher and friend, who had first recommended botany to her as a salutary diversion against the somber impressions left by the French Terror. The following analysis aims to shed light on the various cultural, botanical and literary elements in Lortet’s sole attempt to craft an original instance of personal writing out of an inventory of the flora of Lyons.
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https://hal-univ-lyon1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03045620
Contributor : Nathalie Lyvet <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 9:57:24 AM
Last modification on : Monday, June 21, 2021 - 4:32:28 PM

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Benharrech Benharrech, Philippe Philippe. A woman botanist in Rousseau’s footsteps: Clémence Lortet’s Botanical Walks (ca.1811). Huntia, 2020, 18 (2), pp.33-66. ⟨hal-03045620⟩

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