Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Noble savage
(1,548 words)

1. Concept

The figure of the noble savage (French bon sauvage, German edler/guter Wilder) has been a topos of European philosophy, literature, art, and politics since the time of the voyages of discovery, but it attained its most influential expression in the French Enlightenment. It offered a model based on an amalgam of concepts of the indigenous inhabitants of Caribbean, African, and Pacific regions with the ideal of unspoiled humankind living in the state of nature (cf. fig. 1). With what …

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Mahlke, Kirsten, “Noble savage”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 25 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_018527>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20200128

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