The Sincere Huron, Pupil of Nature by Voltaire Summary
The Huron, or originally called L'Ingénu is a satirical novel and it tells the story of a Huron called "Child of Nature" who, after having crossed the Atlantic to England, crosses into Brittany, France in the 1690s. Upon arrival, a prior notices depictions of his brother and sister-in-law, whom they deduce to be the Huron's parents - making him French. Having grown up outside of European culture, he sees the world in a more 'natural' way, causing him to interpret things directly, unaware of what is customary, leading to comic misinterpretations. After reading the Bible, he feels he should be circumcised and calls upon a surgeon to perform the operation (which is stopped through the intervention of his 'family'). After his first confession, he tries to force the priest to confess as well - interpreting a biblical verse to mean confessions must be made mutually and not exempting the clergy. Not expecting to be baptized in a church, they find the Child of Nature waiting in a stream, as baptisms are depicted in the Bible. The story satirizes religious doctrine, government corruption, and the folly and injustices of French society. François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.