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de Saint-Martin, Louis Claude

Entry updated 9 August 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1743-1803) French philosopher and author, who published most of his nonfiction as by Le Philosophe Inconnu. Much of this output concerned his advocacy of the form of esoteric mysticism known as Martinism, a designation which confusingly refers not to de Saint-Martin but to Martinez de Pasqually (?1727-1774), whose doctrines resemble Rosicrucianism (see Johan Valentin Andreae) and its progeny, including Freemasonry. De Saint-Martin's only fictional work, the fantasticated crypto-Proto SF tale La Crocodile, ou La Guerre du bien et du mal [for full title and pseudonym see Checklist below] (1799; trans Brian Stableford as The Crocodile; Or, the War Between Good and Evil 2016), takes the form of a book-length narrative poem (see Poetry) set erratically in what later critics might call the Near Future, though here restricted to a vague sense of something not yet manifest. What might later critics might describe as a generically confused text might just as plausibly be understood, whiggishly, as a congeries of anteroom forms about to edge into what would become Fantastika. The crocodile is both bestial and/or transgressive in his attempts to sabotage the clockwork Deism whose accuracy at describing the universe was widely advocated during the eighteenth century (see Cosmology). An unsunk but mortmain Atlantis lurks in the wings; Paris is gripped by Post-Holocaust weather; but light dawns. [JC]

Louis Claude de Saint-Martin

born Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France: 18 January 1743

died Aulnay [then Châtenay-Malabry, now Paris], France: 14 October 1803

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