Jules Verne was named as the exemplary writer in the adventure genre so I’m looking for studies on him–and, I see zero in English. He’s so much more prolific than I knew. 62 novels. Most know him from the submarine and air balloon ones. He’s the second most translated foreign language author after Agatha Christie, and thee most translated French author. I don’t look for French people, I just keep finding them. I think they’re marginalized in the Anglo speaking world. A conspicuous share of the intellectuals of Europe are from France. They’ll be teaching Swahili to kids in high school instead of French. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that!
Ray Bradbury said we’re all the children of Verne
Ah I did find one study on him, from 1965. This is a chapter in it I find interesting
Travels to the North Pole, travels to the center of the earth, travels to the moon. So they had an entirely different relation to Verne in 1965 before the moon landing.
Remember this about Lucian?
a platform from which to contemplate the Earth and, at that point, a sensory impression of our world was constructed from the Moon.
This is the type of fascination they must have had after the first manned hot air balloon flight in 1783. In 1851 it was when Verne first published a story about such a flight. He is often referred to as the father of science fiction. Scifi originates from this type of “aircraft”? The story he wrote the year prior was about traveling to Mexico by ship. There’s a certain logical cohesion between the increased radicalism of these two types of travel. Fiction involving boats themselves are a kind of scifi in a sense, boats are just so ordinary to us that we don’t think of it that way.
See Homer’s catalogue of ships for more on this.
We all WISH we had adventures in our own lives that are as action-packed as the kind we find in fiction. Verne is one of the exemplars of this genre. So I’m trying to examine the roots. The next one he wrote was about traveling to Peru. Back in 1851 that must have been so much more of an adventure. We don’t have that anymore. This as I’ve said before partially explains people’s interest in space travel today.
A coincidence? His next writing is about a pact with the devil (Promethean technology?)
Next, a novel about travel to Greenland. After that, another one about balloon travel, this time to the sources of the Nile, which like Peru at that time wasn’t well-explored. The mystery of the world in the 19th century! We can only envy them. The next one, from 1864, about travel to the North Pole, which humans didn’t reach in reality until 1909. Starting to feel like you’re missing real adventure in your life in the 21st century? People find only mere simulacra of it in video games and movies today. Heh, his next novel is the first one he set in France, during the Revolution. Maybe his other works are a yearning for that time of political adventure? After that, to the center of the earth, next to the moon- here is probably the reason one finds books on him like this
Nothing says adventure like scifi.
Thinking about my previous post on adventure being a genre for men, yeah, if you look at the subjects I’ve noted, those are types of travel for the bravest men.
The next one takes place in South Carolina during the Civil War. After that, to the unexplored Patagonia. Risk of death is prominent. His next one, probably the most popular, the fifth most translated book in the world, his great submarine novel. That was risky business in 1869. We’ve eliminated all “risk” in the modern world, probably why everything is so dull. Science is a double-edged blade in that sense. Oo the next one is another on travel to the moon. No, people are still weary about that aren’t they? We don’t have the science yet for perfectly safe journeys. I’m a Vernian!
I’m only at the 14th of 72 of his bibliography. Next one is about that time’s equivalent of the Titanic ship, titled A Floating City. Seasteading anyone? People think unactualized futurism isn’t a thing. I think you’re starting to get the drift of his oeuvre.
“Vernes” are alive today and people don’t realize it. I think immediately of that CRISPR novel by Suarez, not to mention his asteroid mining one. Is there a great cryptocurrency novel yet? I see this one for the first time. Like I said in my previous post, the true adventure I’ve found in life is going to the frontier of the political order and crossing the line. And you know I’m always thinking of ideas for how that could be adapted to fiction. Anyway, a glance at Jules Verne.