chapter  5
Acadia Goes Overseas: Pastoral and Planetary Consciousness in Bernardin Saint-Pierre’s Paul and Virginia
Pages 21

Shepherds travel badly, at least beyond the range their four-legged friends can compass or the trajectories their amatory mission sends them on. We can hardly expect them to do otherwise: sitting next to a pleasant stream and singing about love, as literary shepherds like to do, does not leave much time for moving around. Shepherds and the pastoral seem to be inextricably connected to the local as opposed to the global. Nonetheless, even the history of pastoral as a genre can take us on a journey around the world, accompanied by the most unconventional traveling companions. For even though literary shepherds themselves are not known to willingly cross oceans, pastoral literature offers one of the most mobile imageries we know. On their way through literary history, literary shepherds transform from goat-herding simpletons to poets, to aristocrats posing as shepherds, to their children, hommes sauvages born in the wild, who become true middle-class sentimentalists.