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Saint-Denys, Marquis de

Category: Scientist

 

Marie-Jean-Léon Lecoq, Baron d'Hervey de Juchereau, Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys (1822–1892), was principally known in academic circles, for his study of Chinese and the Chinese culture.

In 1851, for example, he published his Recherches sur l'agriculture et l'horticulture des Chinois (Research on the agriculture and horticulture of the Chinese), in which he dealt with the plants and animals that might be able to acclimatise to, and thus be introduced into, Western countries. He translated Chinese texts as well as some Chinese stories,  valuable for the light they throw on Chinese culture and customs. At the Paris Exhibition of 1867, he acted as commissioner for the Chinese exhibits. In 1874 he succeeded Stanislas Julien in the chair of Chinese at the Collège de France.

All well and good you may say, but why is he here?

Firstly he produced a book entitled - Mémoires sur les doctrines religieuses; de Confucius et de l'école des lettres (Dissertations on the religious doctrines of Confucius and the school of letters) (1887), which means he must have had a knowledge of the spiritual contribution made by Confucius.

 

And secondly, he was probably the first published lucid dreamer.  Many lucid dreamers had gone before and the technique had been known for years, but Hervey made a systematic study of the process, methodically writing down his dreams from the age of 13.  His work inspired later authors such as Stephen LaBerge and Paul Tholey.  So he brings Chinese and particular Confucian spiritual thought into the world of dreaming and its interpretation – a fascinating combination.

In 1867, he anonymously published Les rêves et les moyens de les diriger; observations pratiques (Dreams and the Ways to Direct Them: Practical Observations). In this book, he proposed techniques to control dreams, and he described dreams in which the "dreamer is perfectly aware he is dreaming".  This book is also available in English as Dreams and how to guide them. Translated by N.Fry. 

He died in Paris on the November 2, 1892.

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