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Ed Simon on Samuel Madden
At Berfrois, Ed Simon shines light on Samuel Madden’s Memoirs of the Twentieth Century, first published in 1733, and Madden’s legacy as a writer of Swiftian “novel prognostications”:
Between 1997 and 1998, representatives of His Majesty’s government stationed in Constantinople, Rome, Paris, and Moscow wrote a series of diplomatic missives about the chaotic state of the world, later be compiled into an anthology titled Memoirs of the Twentieth Century. With tongue-only-slightly-in-cheek, I say that this anthology was edited earlier than it was written, for that odd volume was anonymously compiled by an Anglo-Irish vicar named Samuel Madden and first saw print in 1733. Inspired by his countryman Jonathan Swift, Madden attempted to pen a romance that would do for time what Gulliver’s Travels had done for space, presenting a prognostication about the world two-and-a-half-centuries in the future with the conceit that a guardian angel (or future time traveler) has delivered a cache of documents to the Irish minister. A sort of temporal WikiLeaks, if you will. … Memoirs of the Twentieth Century is arguably the first of a type.