Émile Souvestre  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Émile Souvestre (April 15, 1806 – July 5, 1854) was a French novelist who was a native of Morlaix, Finistère.

He was the son of a civil engineer and was educated at the college of Pontivy, with the intention of following his father's career by entering the Polytechnic School. However, his father died in 1823 and he matriculated as a law student at Rennes but soon devoted himself to literature.

He was by turns a bookseller's assistant, a private schoolmaster, a journalist, and master at the grammar schools of Brest and of Mülhausen. He settled in Paris in 1836 and in 1848 he became professor in a school for the instruction of civil servants.

He began his literary career with a drama, played at the Théâtre français in 1828, the Template:Lang. This tragedy was a pronounced failure. In novel writing he did much better than for the stage, deliberately aiming at making the novel an engine of moral instruction. His first two novels Template:Lang and Template:Lang met with favourable receptions.

His best work is undoubtedly to be found in the charming Template:Lang (4 vols, 1835-1837) and Template:Lang (1844), where the folk-lore and natural features of his native province are worked up into story form, and in Un Philosophe sous les toils, which received in 1851 a well deserved academic prize. He also wrote a number of other works—novels, dramas, essays and miscellanies.

In 1846, Souvestre published the ambitious Template:Lang [The World As It Will Be], a full-blown dystopia and science fiction novel which featured some remarkable predictions. In it, Maurice and Marthe are taken to the year 3000 by a man named John Progress on a flying, steam-powered, time-traveling locomotive. There, they discover the existence of steam-powered subways, submarines, synthetic materials imitating real wood, marble, etc., telephone, air conditioning, giant fruits and vegetables obtained through what we would call today genetic engineering, etc. The world is one nation, the capital of which is Tahiti. As in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, eugenics and genetic manipulation are used to manufacture races of men tailored to various tasks.

Souvestre died in Paris on the July 5, 1854. On his widow was bestowed the Prix Lambert designed for the "families of authors who by their integrity, and by the probity of their efforts have well deserved this token from the Republique des Lettres."

French sculptor and Souvestre's friend Philippe Grass made his portrait on his tomb at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Émile Souvestre" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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