Have you seen this man?
Eugène Vintras was – depending on who you believe – a fraudster or a prophet, and an inspiration for many of the heterodox religious movements of the fin-de-siècle and twentieth century. He was important enough to merit a walk-on part in Huysman’s La-bas (1891) and was also mentioned by Maurice Barrès.
And he was successfully prosecuted for fraud in 1842 in Caen… which is how I came across him.
Actually, that’s not true.
Well, the fraud conviction is as true as archival fact gets, but that isn’t how I first encountered Vintras. He actually appeared on my radar because of his connections with another man who could easily make my most-wanted list, Maurice Garçon (1889-1967), the man who is everywhere I look.
Researching crime, occultism and witchcraft 1791-1940, I can’t get around Garçon, author of textbooks on the legal history of France, but also practising lawyer who defended – among others – another one of my most-wanted, the enigmatic Hyacinthe Danse, an occultist and ‘psychoanalyst’ who murdered his mistress and mother in the 1930s, then fled to Belgium to kill his childhood teacher, counting on the fact that France would be unable to extradite him to be executed if he was imprisoned in Belgium.
And Garçon was the perfect choice to defend Danse, having lectured on law and witchcraft, and published pamphlets on subjects such as Mesmerism (which he cautiously and pragmatically defended)and the law.
Garçon is one of the few people to have written about the ‘heretic and prophet’ Vintras, along with Émile Appolis. I’ve seen references to Vintras in Ziegler’s recent book, and he is footnoted and discussed briefly in work such as Kselman’s Miracles and Prophecies, but I have a strong lead on Vintras, which does not appear in any of this work.
Here are my two questions for YOU:
Are you researching Vintras?
Do you know anyone who is?
If so, please do get in touch.