Simon Tyssot de Patot  

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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.

Simon Tyssot de Patot (16551738) was a French writer who penned two very important, seminal works in fantastic literature. Tyssot was born in England of French Huguenot parents. He was brought up in Normandy, moved to Delft, and spent most of his adult life in Deventer, in the Netherlands, where he taught French and was professor of mathematics at the city's Athenaeum (or l'École) Illustre. He had probably met John Locke in the 1680s and almost certainly knew the Irish deist John Toland, who lived at The Hague in 1708-10. His life proceeded relatively uneventfully until 1727, when at the age of 72 the publication of his "Lettres choisies" caused a scandal in which he was accused of irreligious and immoral views. Attempts to clear his name failed, he was dismissed from his post as professor of mathematics and left Deventer. He died in 1738.

In Voyages et Aventures de Jacques Massé [Voyages And Adventures Of Jacques Massé], published in 1714 (imprinted 1710), Tyssot de Patot dispatched his heroes to a fictional country located near South Africa. While the book did not range much beyond the confines of the traditional Utopias of the times, it did, however, include "living fossils," giant birds and strange flora that survived from prehistoric eras, arguably making it one of the first modern Lost World novels.

In his 1720 La Vie, les Aventures et le Voyage de Groenland du Révérend Père Cordelier Pierre de Mésange [The Life, Adventures & Trip To Greenland Of The Rev. Father Pierre de Mesange], Tyssot de Patot introduced the concept of a Hollow Earth. This was the first time that the notion of a journey to the center of the Earth was depicted in a realistic, pseudo-scientific fashion, as opposed to the various mythological journeys to Hell, such as Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy. Tyssot de Patot's book predates that of Danish writer Ludvig Holberg Voyage of Nikolas Klimius (1741) and Jules Verne's classic Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864).

Tyssot de Patot described how his protagonists discover a hidden, underground kingdom located near the North Pole. That kingdom is inhabited by the descendants of African colonists who had left their homeland four thousand years earlier. This proto-Pellucidar is lit by a mysterious fire ball and is inhabited by small man-bat creatures. The novel also featured the character of the Wandering Jew.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Simon Tyssot de Patot" 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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