The Begum's Millions

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Overview

When two European scientists unexpectedly inherit an Indian rajah’s fortune, each builds an experimental city of his dreams in the wilds of the American Northwest. France-Ville is a harmonious urban community devoted to health and hygiene, the specialty of its French founder, Dr. François Sarrasin. Stahlstadt, or City of Steel, is a fortress-like factory town devoted to the manufacture of high-tech weapons of war. Its German creator, the fanatically pro-Aryan Herr Schultze, is Verne’s first truly evil scientist. ...

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The Begum's Millions

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Overview

When two European scientists unexpectedly inherit an Indian rajah’s fortune, each builds an experimental city of his dreams in the wilds of the American Northwest. France-Ville is a harmonious urban community devoted to health and hygiene, the specialty of its French founder, Dr. François Sarrasin. Stahlstadt, or City of Steel, is a fortress-like factory town devoted to the manufacture of high-tech weapons of war. Its German creator, the fanatically pro-Aryan Herr Schultze, is Verne’s first truly evil scientist. In his quest for world domination and racial supremacy, Schultze decides to showcase his deadly wares by destroying France-Ville and all its inhabitants. Both prescient and cautionary, The Begum’s Millions is a masterpiece of scientific and political speculation and constitutes one of the earliest technological utopia/dystopias in Western literature. This Wesleyan edition features notes, appendices, and a critical introduction as well as all the illustrations from the original French edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“To read Jules Verne is one of the great treats of childhood. To read Jules Verne later in life is to discover a writer just as satisfying but even richer, one who is not only a natural storyteller but also a mythmaker, a social critic and an innovative artist. ...Give The Begum's Millions or one of (his) other novels a try.... There's a lot more to Jules Verne than what you find in those old, albeit quite wonderful, Disney movies.” —Washington Post Book World
Michael Dirda
To read Jules Verne is one of the great treats of childhood. To read Jules Verne later in life is to discover a writer just as satisfying but even richer, one who is not only a natural storyteller but also a mythmaker, a social critic and an innovative artist. In France, Verne is now studied as a major literary figure, and thanks to fresh translations -- from Penguin and university presses at Indiana and Nebraska, as well as Wesleyan -- more and more of his work is available to American readers in reliable texts. Give The Begum's Millions or one of the other novels a try this winter. There's a lot more to Jules Verne than what you find in those old, albeit quite wonderful, Disney movies.
— The Washington Post
Library Journal
A French and a German scientist each inherits equal portions of a rajah's vast fortune. One uses his spoils for good, the other evil. A little heavy-handed, perhaps, but Verne tells a good story. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819567963
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2005
  • Series: Early Classics of Science Fiction
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jules Verne

JULES VERNE (1828-1905) was the first author to popularize the literary genre that has come to be known at science fiction. ARTHUR B. EVANS is Professor of French at DePauw University and series editor for Wesleyan's Early Classics of Science Fiction series. STANFORD L. LUCE is Professor Emeritus of French at Miami University in Ohio. PETER SCHULMAN is Associate Professor of French and International Studies at Old Dominion University.

Biography

The creator of the roman scientifique, the popular literary genre known today as science fiction, Jules Gabriel Verne was born in the port town of Nantes, France, in 1828. His father, Pierre, was a prominent lawyer, and his mother, Sophie, was from a successful ship-building family. Despite his father's wish that he pursue law, young Jules was fascinated by the sea and all things foreign and adventurous. Legend holds that at age eleven he ran away from school to work aboard a ship bound for the West Indies but was caught by his father shortly after leaving port. Jules developed an abiding love of science and language from a young age. He studied geology, Latin, and Greek in secondary school, and frequently visited factories, where he observed the workings of industrial machines. These visits likely inspired his desire for scientific plausibility in his writing and perhaps informed his depictions of the submarine Nautilus and the other seemingly fantastical inventions he described.

After completing secondary school, Jules studied law in Paris, as his father had before him. However, during the two years he spent earning his degree, he developed more consuming interests. Through family connections, he entered Parisian literary circles and met many of the distinguished writers of the day. Inspired in particular by novelists Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (father and son), Verne began writing his own works. His poetry, plays, and short fiction achieved moderate success, and in 1852 he became secretary of the Théâtre lyrique. In 1857 he married Honorine Morel, a young widow with two children. Seeking greater financial security, he took a position as a stockbroker with the Paris firm Eggly and Company. However, he reserved his mornings for writing. Baudelaire's recently published French translation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the days Verne spent researching points of science in the library, inspired him to write a new sort of novel: the roman scientifique. His first such novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, was an immediate success and earned him a publishing contract with the important editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel.

For the rest of his life, Verne published an average of two novels a year; the fifty-four volumes published during his lifetime, collectively known as Voyages Extraordinaires, include his best-known works, Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Begun in 1865 and published to huge success in 1869, Twenty Thousand Leagues has been translated into 147 languages and adapted into dozens of films. The novel also holds the distinction of describing a submarine twenty-five years before one was actually constructed. As a tribute to Verne, the first electric and nuclear submarines were named Nautilus. In 1872 Verne settled in Amiens with his family. During the next several years he traveled extensively on his yachts, visiting such locales as North Africa, Gibraltar, Scotland, and Ireland. In 1886 Verne's mentally ill nephew shot him in the leg, and the author was lame thereafter. This incident, as well as the tumultuous political climate in Europe, marked a change in Verne's perspective on science, exploration, and industry. Although not as popular as his early novels, Verne's later works are in many ways as prescient. Touching on such subjects as the ill effects of the oil industry, the negative influence of missionaries in the South Seas, and the extinction of animal species, they speak to concerns that remain urgent in our own time.

Verne continued writing actively throughout his life, despite failing health, the loss of family members, and financial troubles. At his death in 1905 his desk drawers contained the manuscripts of several new novels. Jules Verne is buried in the Madeleine Cemetery in Amiens.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Good To Know

In 1848, Verne got his start writing librettos for operettas.

When Verne's father found out that his son would rather write than study law, he cut him off financially, and Jules was forced to support himself as a stockbroker -- a job he hated but was fairly good at. During this period, he sought advice and inspiration from authors Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.

Verne stands as the most translated novelist in the world -- 148 languages, according to UNESCO statistics.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 8, 1828
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nantes, France
    1. Date of Death:
      March 24, 1905
    2. Place of Death:
      Amiens, France
    1. Education:
      Nantes lycée and law studies in Paris

Table of Contents

A Note on the Translation
Introduction
The Begum's Millions by Jules Verne
Mr. Sharp Makes his Entrance
Two Friends
A News Item
Divided by Two
The City of Steel
The Albrecht Mine
The Central Block
The Dragon's Lair
Absent without Leave
An Article from Unsere Centurie, a German Journal
Dinner at Dr. Sarrasin's
The Council
Letter from Marcel Bruckmann to Professor Schultze, Stahlstadt,
Preparing for Combat
The San Francisco Stock Exchange
Two Frenchman against a City
Explanations at Gunpoint
The Kernel of Mystery
A Family Affair
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Jules Gabriel Verne: A Biography
About the Contributors

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    sprightly translation of the Jules Verne utopian novel with scholarly matter

    This 1879 moralistic Verne novel contrasts the ideal French city France-Ville with the malevolent German City of Steel. The founders of the respective cities were able to build them with their receipt of millions of dollars from an Indian rajah. The dark view of the German character Herr Schultze and his militarisic, imperialistic City of Steel is attributed to the French view of Germany after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. But 'The Begum's Millions' is not simply a nationalistic, chauvinistic French work of the time, but also a novelistic treatment in the genre of 'Brave New World' and '1984' of central political and cultural subjects and controversies of the modern era. Industrialization, urban life, the benefits of improved health brought by science, political leadership, and the scourge of more destructive weapons are starkly portrayed. The French city manages to overcome the dire threat from the German city, absorbing the positive aspects of the latter into it for one combined community which is a 'model city and factory.' Nonetheless one can now see Verne's novel as a prophecy of the history of 20th-century Europe with the German city the victor. This edition part of Wesleyan's ongoing Early Classics of Science Fiction series is more than a economic, smart translation. With bibliographic matter of 20 pages on Verne's publications and another 11 pages on secondary sources, it is a notable resource on this pioneering author in the field of science fiction and fantasy.

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