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Jules Verne, the most translated novelist in the world and best known for books such as Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas and Around the World in Eighty Days, was also a prolific playwright. Journey Through the Impossible, a play of fantasy and science fiction, ran for 97 performances in Paris in 1882 and 1883. In the three acts, the characters go first to the center of the Earth, then under the sea, and finally to the planet "Altor." Characters from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, From the Earth to ...
Jules Verne, the most translated novelist in the world and best known for books such as Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas and Around the World in Eighty Days, was also a prolific playwright. Journey Through the Impossible, a play of fantasy and science fiction, ran for 97 performances in Paris in 1882 and 1883. In the three acts, the characters go first to the center of the Earth, then under the sea, and finally to the planet "Altor." Characters from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, From the Earth to the Moon, Doctor Ox, and Journey to the Center of the Earth appear again in Journey through the Impossible, including Captain Nemo, President Barbican, Michel Ardan, Doctor Ox, and Professor Lidenbrock.
Verne wrote this play in the middle of his life, between his optimistic (science helps humanity and is good) and pessimistic (science is dangerous and bad) works; the play is a vehicle for Verne to ask himself and his readers whether science, technology, and the pursuit of knowledge are good or bad. He used the play to pose questions about life and wisdom that are still important in our time.
The script of the play was lost to Verne scholars for almost a century, until the text was discovered in 1978 in the Archives of the Censorship Office of the Third French Republic and was published in French in 1981. The play had many reviews in 1882 and two of them are included here to give the reader insight into how the play was staged in Paris in the second half of the 19th century. Also included are many wonderful illustrations showing set designs for the original play, a page from a lost scene, the original frontispiece, and other interesting details.
This is the first complete edition and the first English translation of a surprising work by a popular French novelist whose works continue to delight readers and audiences to this day.
Posted October 28, 2003
Most science fiction fans think of Jules Verne as the 'father' of the genre, but with a rather remote paternity, the genre's modern directions owing more to H.G. Wells. Verne would hardly be suspected of telling a story of cosmic travel to another planet in a distant galaxy. And yet that is among the destinations in this incredible play, staged to acclaim in France in 1882, then lost for over a century until the manuscript's rediscovery in a French archive. This is not only the first English translation, it is also the only version in any language that offers the complete text of the play. With it, and other recent Verne books discovered or translated for the first time, readers of today can gauge Verne's imagination far more accurately than those of the 19th or 20th century. Verne's editor constantly rejected or toned down his true science fiction, compelling his most inventive author to remain largely earthbound. For instance, 1994 saw the first appearance of Paris in the 20th Century, a book rejected outright by Verne's publisher, who refused to sanction a dystopia set a century in the future. Similarly, Verne's publisher compelled his author to transform his voyage around the solar system on a comet in Hector Servadac into simply a 'dream.' Journey Through the Impossible goes even further, because Verne found an escape from his publisher's censorship by turning to the theater. In Journey Through the Impossible Verne takes us to the center of the earth and under the sea, destinations from some of his most popular novels. In the underground realms dwell Troglodytes anticipating the Morlocks of Wells's The Time Machine. On board the submarine Nautilus, a visit is made to the city of Atlantis. The play includes appearances by many of the most famous characters from Verne's novels, including the diabolical scientist Doctor Ox and the Baltimore Gun Club that launched the first projectile to the moon. This time the Gun Club's giant cannon sends a capsule full of explorers to Altor, a newly-discovered distant planet with two suns. Journey Through the Impossible is published in association with the North American Jules Verne Society, and includes a preface and footnotes by its president, Jean-Michel Margot, one of the leading authorities on Verne today. The background explains the play's many allusions and allows the reader to readily imagine how its theatrical presentation might have appeared. Further visual embellishment is provided by lavish illustrations, including several originals by Roger Leyonmark that evoke the style of the engravings that were a trademark of the early French editions of Verne's books. Edward Baxter, translator of the play, has already earned approbation for his previous translations of Verne into English, including several novels. This is an incredible book, one that is full of both Verne's imagination and Vernian scholarship. It will forever change the way readers think of Verne, and will re-establish his foundation as the originator of modern science fiction.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.