Question summed up: Can anyone help me find the part of Eugène Sue’s The Mysteries of the People wherein a sinister Jesuit plot is unveiled, which may have, through a game of ‘telephone’ by plagiarism, inspired parts of the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
In one of the essays in his Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, Umberto Eco mentions that the French writer Eugène Sue’s last novel Les Mystères du peuple (in English The Mysteries of the People) includes the revelation of a "Jesuit world conspiracy." Eco claims that this was more or less plagiarized by the French writer Maurice Joly in his Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, wherein the plot is transferred to Machiavelli (who is a stand-in for Napoleon III). Joly’s book was then, in turn, a major source plagiarized for the infamous anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Still following?
Being interested in how conspiracy theories evolve, "borrow," and converge, I wanted to read the original bit in The Mysteries of the People. My issue is that The Mysteries of the People is actually a series of 19 novels and novellas, and Eco doesn’t indicate in his essay in which book this passage appears. Rather than read the whole thing, I was hoping somebody might know, or advise how to narrow it down.
Here’s what I know:
That the Protocols were stolen liberally from Joly is well-documented. However, any mention of Joly stealing from Sue always points back to the Eco essay. It seems unlikely to me that he would make something like that up with so bold a claim as having found 7 pages worth of cribbing. (Don’t be confused, though, he also talks about this connection his fictional novel Foucault’s Pendulum, which just complicates things more).
I’m not holding out much hope that anyone has actually read The Mysteries of the People and can point me straight to the right book, but I was thinking maybe somebody who knows French lit, or knows how an Italian might translate French into English, might think of something I haven’t and can give me a new clue to pursue.
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