Paris in the Twentieth Century

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Overview

THE LITERARY DISCOVERY OF THE CENTURY

In 1863 Jules Verne, famed author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days, wrote a novel that his literary agent deemed too farfetched to be published. More than one hundred years later, his great-grandson found the handwritten, never-before published manuscript in a safe. That manuscript was Paris in the Twentieth Century, an astonishingly prophetic view into the future by one ...

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Overview

THE LITERARY DISCOVERY OF THE CENTURY

In 1863 Jules Verne, famed author of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days, wrote a novel that his literary agent deemed too farfetched to be published. More than one hundred years later, his great-grandson found the handwritten, never-before published manuscript in a safe. That manuscript was Paris in the Twentieth Century, an astonishingly prophetic view into the future by one of the most renowned science fiction writers of our time . . .

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - John O. Christensen
This lost novel of Jules Verne is a disappointment for YA SF fans. Michel Dufrenoy, a poet, has just graduated from the University and is entering into a world so transformed by technology that there proves to be no place in it for him. The arts and humanities are almost dead and he cannot adapt. He commiserates with a handful of others like himself and falls in love, but tragedy seems inevitable. Verne foresees a number of modern technological changes such as automobiles and fax machines, and presents a fascinating vision of Paris and the world in the mid-twentieth century. Fortunately, some of his predictions are inaccurate. The failing of the novel for YA readers is in its shallow characters and poor plot. There are no surprises, no interesting twists. Recommended only for those wanting a comprehensive collection of Verne for a serious study of the author's works. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Peter Heck
...[D]espite its many predictable elements, the book is a fascinating study. Verne's vision of the twentieth century has the usual proportion of hits and misses among its "predictions"....[S]erious students of early SF, and those interested in seeing our own era in an unexpected light, will find the lost Verne novel worth their time.
Asimov's Science Fiction
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345420398
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 418,245
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jules Verne
A legendary French author and pioneer of the science fiction genre, Jules Verne wrote visionary tales of space, air, and underwater adventure in classics like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).

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

Translater's Note
Introduction
Ch. I The Academic Credit Union 3
Ch. II A Panorama of the Streets of Paris 16
Ch. III An Eminently Practical Family 27
Ch. IV Concerning Some Nineteenth-Century Authors, and the Difficulty of Obtaining Them 38
Ch. V Which Treats of Calculating Machines and Self-protecting Safes 50
Ch. VI In Which Quinsonnas Appears on the Ledger's Summit 62
Ch. VII Three Drones 72
Ch. VIII Which Concerns Music, Ancient and Modern, and the Practical Utilization of Certain Instruments 86
Ch. IX A Visit to Uncle Huguenin 99
Ch. X Grand Review of French Authors Conducted by Uncle Huguenin, Sunday, April 15, 1961 108
Ch. XI A Stroll to the Port de Grenelle 124
Ch. XII Quinsonnas's Opinions on Women 139
Ch. XIII Concerning the Ease with Which an Artist Can Starve to Death in the Twentieth Century 153
Ch. XIV Le Grand Entrepot Dramatique 173
Ch. XV Poverty 187
Ch. XVI The Demon of Electricity 199
Ch. XVII Et in Pulverem Reverteris 211
Notes 217
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This has to be one of my top 5 books of all time. I have always

    This has to be one of my top 5 books of all time. I have always enjoyed Verne after my 5th grade teacher had us read Around the World in 80 Days. I remember the discovery of this manuscript in the 1990s and the publication in English in 1996. I bought the book then, but failed to read it for many years. I guess I didn't have much faith that it would be good--just somewhat interesting that it took so long to be published. I found the book among things left at my parent's house before they sold it (15 years later) and finally got around to reading it.
    Many people make quite a to-do about how this book prophesies everything from the common use of everything from automobiles and electric trains to fax machine--but that Verne's publisher said it was too unbelievable. But I think that the true genius is that Verne laments the future disregard of the humanities. We see today, as in the book, the almost total abandonment of art and literature in the name of almighty technology and business. My favorite part is when the main character goes into a huge bookstore and asks for the complete works of VIctor Hugo. The clerk asks: "what's he written?". The clerk is so perplexed, he asks another employee for help, and this one stands there contemplating: "You sure of the name?...Rhugo, Rhugo." It reminds me so keenly of a real life situation when I went to a college bookstore looking for something to read. I asked an employee where the general reading section was, and she had no idea what I was talking about. This is the Paris in the Twentieth Century that I love--the warning of a futuristic dystopia that is here now--a world even where old masterpieces are re-written and dumbed down for modern theater-goers. Hollywood anyone?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2008

    Disappointment? Not So Fast!

    Despite the many arguments naming Jules Verne¿s novel as a complete disappointment for lack of character development and a monotonous storyline, the tale is as dystopic as Sci-Fi can get. The story revolves around Michel, a young man who struggles in a mechanical world built strictly upon the sciences in 1960¿s Paris. He struggles with his love of the arts and inability to assimilate with the robotic society.Interestingly is how Verne chose not any rural town, but a recognizable urban city designed for change and the acceptance of technology. Furthermore, the fact that Verne predicted a variety of technological inventions from the electric chair to the metro system, trains that function on air pressure to fax machines should astound the reader to realize that these items were completely unheard of in Verne¿s time! Verne¿s publisher¿s decision to keep the story away from publication was an absolute mistake, the fact that Verne¿s prophecies were on track with future innovations leads me to believe that these technologies could have been foreseen years ago.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2001

    Horrible

    This is the worst book ever, it is gloriously depressing. It has the worst ending in the history of books, I can see why no one published this for Jules Verne. The only good thing about this book it the way Jules Depicted the gadgets of the 20th century. Do Not Read this book, unless you wnat to be horribly depressed. Cheers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2001

    Bad news

    I have read all of the other Verne books and loved them. I hated this one and can see why Verne never published it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2004

    EXCELLENT

    this book is really excellent i really enjoyed reading it. because one day the world will be like that. our end is the same. the machines are going to take over there will be no need for humans, or poets or anything involving art.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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