By this point, Verne's works were being translated into English, and he could comfortably live on his writing. The story of Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout takes readers on an adventurous global tour at a time when travel was becoming easier and alluring. In the century plus since its original debut, the work has been adapted for the theater, radio, television and film, including the classic version starring David Niven.
Although he was enjoying immense professional success by the s, Jules Verne began experiencing more strife in his personal life.
He sent his rebellious son to a reformatory in , and a few years later Michel caused more trouble through his relations with a minor. In , Verne was shot in the leg by his nephew Gaston, leaving him with a limp for the rest of his life. His longtime publisher and collaborator Hetzel died a week later, and the following year his mother passed away as well.
Having established his residence in the northern French city of Amiens, Verne began serving on its city council in Stricken with diabetes, he died at home on March 24, However, his literary output didn't end there, as Michel assumed control of his father's uncompleted manuscripts. Additional works surfaced decades later. Backwards to Britain finally was printed in , years after it was written, and Paris in the Twentieth Century , originally considered too far-fetched with its depictions of skyscrapers, gas-fueled cars and mass transit systems, followed in In all, Verne authored more than 60 books most notably the 54 novels comprising the Voyages Extraordinaires , as well as dozens of plays, short stories and librettos.
Jules Verne. Paris in the Twentieth Century.
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New York: Random House, Translated by Richard Howard, introduction by Eugen Weber. Jules Verne's novel Paris in the Twentieth Century , just published by Random House, is simultaneously less significant than some publicity has implied, while still a work of inestimable historical importance.
Purely as a work of literature, Paris in the Twentieth Century lacks the qualities of the best novels that have insured Verne's reputation for over a century. Nonetheless, Paris in the Twentieth Century will be of interest to readers for two primary reasons, because of its prophecies, but even more because of its early position in the development of dystopian science fiction.
The sensation created by the novel can be noted by the fact that it has already been adapted into a stage play, in the Netherlands. On the most basic, surface level, Paris in the Twentieth Century is an astonishing book for its depiction of the modern age. Written in , the story is set in the Paris of the s. The officially sanctioned creativity is government sponsorship of the arts, resulting in lowbrow theater for the masses, composed along the lines of the mass-produced collaborations of the s Hollywood studio system.
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In despair, he spends his last sous to buy violets for his beloved, but finds that she has disappeared from her apartment, evicted when her father lost his job as the university's last teacher of rhetoric. The subjectivity becomes steadily more surreal as the dying artist, in a final paroxysm of despair, unconsciously circles an old cemetery. Poe was one of Verne's principal models as a writer, and was also the subject of Verne's only literary essay--written at the time of Paris in the Twentieth Century.
Verne's prophecies of the world to come in Paris in the Twentieth Century , both in technical and cultural terms, are breathtaking in their extent and nearly unerring accuracy. Virtually every page is crowded with evidence of Verne's ability to forecast the science and life of the future, from feminism to the rise of illegitimate births, from email to burglar alarms, from the growth of suburbs to mass-produced higher education, including the dissolution of humanities departments.
Perhaps Verne's most amusing error was in anticipating that the government would conduct itself in such a businesslike way as to show a dividend. He also disapproved of the pessimistic, dystopian tone of the novel, believing that it would not attract readers and might potentially destroy Verne's promising career after the publication of his first scientific adventure and popular success, Cinq Semaines en ballon [ Five Weeks in a Balloon ].
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As a result of the rejection, Verne not only locked away Paris in the Twentieth Century for the remainder of his life, but avoided fiction with a futuristic setting. Instead, he wrote of advanced technology in his own time, a pattern that gives his writing today the unique quality of science fiction set in the past. Even Paris in the Twentieth Century displays this same propensity: its modern marvels were set amid a Paris where s readers would have recognized contemporary monuments represented as decaying a century later.
Perhaps Verne himself was equally uncertain about setting a novel in the future, considering how easily he was dissuaded from the idea. Certainly at this early stage in his career, he did not want to endanger the commercial success offered by his association with Hetzel. However, not all of Hetzel's judgments were so questionable. He also recognized that from the standpoint of the requirements of novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century was structurally weak, particularly in the narrative elements Hetzel believed were so necessary in speculative fiction.
While characterization was seldom Verne's strength as a writer, usually the fault was obscured by the context of the story, with an adventurous, scientific, fantastic, or comedic setting. The translation of this site is done automatically, we apologize for the inaccuracy of the formulas used.
Voyage au Centre de la Terre by Jules Verne
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