Memoirs of the Twentieth Century

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Memoirs of the Twentieth Century is an early work of speculative fiction written by Irish writer Samuel Madden. Written in 1733, it takes the form of a series of diplomatic letters written in 1997 and 1998. The work is a satire perhaps modeled after Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels published seven years before.[1] Madden was an Anglican clergyman, and the book is focused on the dangers of Catholicism and Jesuits, depicting a future where they dominate.

The book was published anonymously, and soon after Madden destroyed most copies. It was little read, and thus had little influence on later writings imagining the future.[1]

In his 1987 work Origins of Futuristic Fiction, Paul Alkon describes the book as the earliest of English literature to feature time travel,[2] but notes that it does not explain how it was performed.

Plot[edit]

The book is a series of letters from British representatives in the foreign cities of Constantinople, Rome, Paris, and Moscow and a smaller number of letters returned to them from Britain. The representatives address their letters to a Lord High Treasurer who is in service of King George VI. The technology of the 20th century is unchanged from Madden's own era; the focus is instead on the political and religious state of the world in the future.

In Madden's future history, much of the world has come to be dominated by the Jesuits. In the early 19th century, Jesuit Paul IX became pope and seized temporal control over most of Italy. The eighteenth century had been one of war between Spain, France, and the Holy Roman Empire but weakened by conflict and mismanagement all three powers became vassals to the Pope by the mid-nineteenth century. Also under papal control are vast estates in Africa, China, and Paraguay.

In France, King Louis XIX reigns but the French state is weak and he is controlled by his Jesuit prime minister. In Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire has fallen and been replaced by a Tatar one. The new regime pursued a liberal religious policy, and by 1997 Deism and Christianity had come to dominate, with Jesuit missionaries active and powerful. Russia is an expansionist power, having annexed Finland, Poland, and parts of Persia and Turkey, while traditionally a foe of the Jesuits the late 20th century sees them growing in power there as well.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Samuel Madden's Memoirs of the Twentieth Century" Paul Alkon. Science Fiction Studies Vol. 12, No. 2 (Jul., 1985), pp. 184-201 Published by: SF-TH Inc
  2. ^ Alkon, Paul K. (1987). Origins of Futuristic Fiction. The University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-8203-0932-X. 

Further reading[edit]