Eugène Mouton

19th Century Science Fiction Pioneer

Pierre Martin Désiré Eugène Mouton (1823-1902, usually designated Eugène Mouton, pen name Mérinos) was, among other things, an early science fiction writer. His mother was a Creole and his early childhood was spent in Guadeloupe. Details about his life and work in English are not readily come by on the Internet, but clearly this writer and the intellectual background in which he worked merit greater attention.

One place he shows up is in the history of time travel fiction: his landmark short story “L'historioscope” (1883) can be found in English translation in News from the Moon. According to the blog referenced (see preceding link):

Eugène Mouton’s The Historioscope is perhaps the most impressive story in the collection. A historian researching ancient trade patterns meets a very eccentric old gentleman who has invented a means of actually seeing the past, literally. The idea is cleverly developed.

In H.G. Wells, Modernity and the Movies Keith Williams credits Edward Page Mitchell as the first to portray mechanized time travel. Camille Flammarion’s novel Lumen (dated variously 1866, 1867, but most commonly 1872), another precedent, is described. About Mouton:

Probably under Flammarion's influence, ‘L’historioscope’, by Eugène Mouton, concerns an invention (a kind of electrical telescope) which can look back into history, by tracking light waves of past events as they spread through the ether into space (see his Fantasies (Paris: Charpentier, 1883), pp. 223-65).

More about Flammarion can be found in the article French Tales of Infinity by Prof. Mark Brake & Rev. Neil Hook.

The following anthology provides the broader context of 19th century French fantastic literature; see this review:

Nouvelle Anthologie of Old Science Fiction [review of: Monique Lebailly, ed. La Science Fiction avant la SF: Anthologie de l’imaginaire scientifique française du Romantisme à la Pataphysique] by ABE, Science Fiction Studies, #53 ( Volume 18, Part 1), March 1991.

Note that Alfred Jarry, left out of English-language lists of time travel literature, is included in this anthology.

This web site contains some unusual information and categorizes time travel literature:

Archive N° 7 “Le Maitre du Temps” ou comment filmer l’histoire!

First there is a summary of Italian author Giuseppe Lipparini’s 1909 story “The Master of Time”, followed by a brief bio. The blogger then classifies fictional visitation of the past into four categories, with examples. Category 4 involves the journey back in time via images. Included here are Flammarion, Mouton, and Lipparini, along with their successors.

Note that at least three stories by Mouton are available in English translation, thanks to Black Coat Press (see below). See also forthcoming volumes for more Mouton.

Black Coat Press

News from the Moon

Includes “The Historioscope” (1883) by Eugène Mouton

The Supreme Progress

Includes “The End of the World” (1872) by Eugène Mouton

The Germans on Venus

Includes “The Origin of Life” (1877) by Eugène Mouton

Other Offsite Links

Eugène Mouton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Camille Flammarion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lumen by Camille Flammarion

News from the Moon
Vintage Pop Fictions (blog), June 7, 2011

Nouvelle Anthologie of Old Science Fiction

French Tales of Infinity by Prof. Mark Brake & Rev. Neil Hook

Archive N° 7 “Le Maitre du Temps” ou comment filmer l’histoire!

H.G. Wells, Modernity and the Movies by Keith Williams

Giuseppe Lipparini - Wikipedia (In Italian)

On This Site

Edward Page Mitchell (1852-1927), Science Fiction Pioneer: Time Travel, Hegel, and More

Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau: El anacronópete — The First Time Machine

«Le maître du temps» par Giuseppe Lipparini

The Man Who Was Solved by Dick Allen

George Cary Eggleston on Science Fiction & Jules Verne (1874)

Definition of ’Pataphysics by Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry’s “How to Construct a Time Machine”: A Web Guide 

H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine: Selected Bibliography 

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress

Exotica, Curiosa, Crankery, Hoaxes, Cultural & Intellectual Arcana: Selected Web Guide & Bibliography

Additional Bibliography

Alkon, Paul K. Origins of Futuristic Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987.

Nahin, Paul J. Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction; foreword by Kip S. Thorne. 2nd ed. Woodbury, NY: AIP Press; New York: Springer, 1999.

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine: An Invention; edited by Nicholas Ruddick. Peterborough, ON; Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2001.

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine: An Invention. Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Contexts, Criticism; edited by Stephen Arata. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009. (Norton Critical Edition) Contents.

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Uploaded 13 September 2011
Last update 22 October 2013
Previous update 24 June 2013

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