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Tyssot de Patot, Simon

Entry updated 11 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1655-1738) UK-born French teacher and author who lived most of his life in The Netherlands, at least initially to escape persecution, his family being Huguenots. His career as an author of Proto SF Fantastic Voyages began late in his life, with the publication of Voyages et Avantures de Jaques Massé ["Voyages and Adventures of Jacques Massé"] (dated 1710 but circa 1714; trans Stephen Whatley as The Travels and Adventures of James Massey 1733) [for further editions and subtitles see Checklist below], in which Jaques Massé and his companion Moret are shipwrecked on a vast mysterious Island off South Africa, more or less the location of the real Kerguelen Islands, at the heart of which, after some travels, they discover a monarchical Utopia based on just governance, an abhorrence of tyrants, and a negative response to Christianity (see Religion), which is viewed as being foolishly bound to an unjust deity. Their sojourn in Bustrol is ended when Morel's sexual relationship with a female royal goes sour; in the course of their escape down an Underground river they enter a Lost World teeming with prehistoric Monsters, but after more than a decade they manage to return to London. The book was popular and was widely translated.

In contrast, Tyssot de Patot's second tale, La Vie, Les Aventures, & le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Pere Cordelier Pierre de Mésange ["The Life, Adventures and Voyage to Greenland of the Reverend Pierre de Mésange": for full title see Checklist below] (1720; trans Brian Stableford in The Strange Voyages of Jacques Massé and Pierre de Mésange omni 2015), had little initial impact. In this tale, the protagonist is shipwrecked off the coast of Greenland and travels inland to discover a Lost Race from Africa, whose ancestors had drifted there on an Island severed from the mainland by a great Disaster. The land of Ruffal extends a great distance Underground, its capital being located under the North Pole, where Mésange discovers texts that describe a much earlier humanoid race which dwelt in a Hollow Earth world beneath Ruffal.

The first tale precedes Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), and prefigures the clearcut verisimilitude of the later book; it may be because of its reportorial tone that it was much later incorporated into Obi; Or, the History of Three-Finger'd Jack: by Dr Moseley: To which is Added, the Voyages, Travels, and Long Capacity of James Massey, who was Shipwrecked on a Desolated Coast (1800), a text not yet fully examined, and parts of which may closely resemble Obie: Or the History of Three-Fingered Jack (1800) by William Earle. Benjamin Moseley (1742-1819) was a physician active in Jamaica for some years after 1768, and who is now known more for his opposition to vaccination than for his short biography of the real escaped slave or maroon who may have been associated with a possibly imaginary Utopian fastness in the Jamaican Blue Mountains. Brian Stableford's translation of Tyssot de Patot should add focus to studies of the role of Proto SF in the cultural and political history of the past centuries. [JC]

Simon Tyssot de Patot

born London: 1655

died Ijsselstein, Netherlands: 1738


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