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L'abbaye de Northanger Written by: Jane Austen Narrated by: Maria Chapdelaine Written by: Au fond du gouffre Written by: Georges Ohnet Narrated by: Darkwood Heaven Forest 1 Written by: Le ghetto de la victoire Written by: Henri Amouroux Narrated by: Une fille de Tel Aviv Written by: Edmond About Narrated by: Gaston Leroux Narrated by: Les compagnons du silence Written by: Let me pass over other writings that lack talent if not audacity: I will also not comment on such other works in the chronology as the hazy "social palingenesy" of the spiritualist philosopher Ballanche, the conjectural tales of Charles Nodier for my taste, too much tongue-in-cheek in apology for imaginative audacities , or the SF tales, among them a voyage to the Moon, of the young Boucher de Perthes, later to be the father of paleanthropology.
In his preface he tries to imagine the connection between changes in technology and changes in customs. A "novel" of the future can be written only on the assumption that contradictions and conflicts will still exist. Through individual destinies Bodin will hint at new moral axioms, speculating about miscegenation, the "restoration of the Jewish kingdom," the progress of aeronautics, the attempt to promote a universal language, and the failure of that attempt. He ends his preface withs these words: I hope that someone else will take care of this.
It is clear to Bodin that a "futuristic genre" is bound to appear. Those who are fond of prophecies in SF should read his preface, for it is a literary prophecy of extremely penetrating insight. His book thus belongs to SF not only for its content but also by the genological status claimed for it by the author. In the following generation, however, Bodin's faith is only partly justified, for although the literature of cognitive estrangement does develop, it does so only sporadically. Between and all the major subgenres and models of SF are exemplified, but each only by a single work.
Likewise, all sociological points of impact are occupied: SF becomes light bourgeois reading, fiction with the function of the political pamphlet, the popular serial, the avant-garde text for the informed amateur, the doctrinaire text intended for marginal sub-groups, children's and young people's literature.
But at none of these points does it develop any continuity. Napoleon is not defeated in Russia and does not die in St. Helena; instead he becomes Emperor of the World and dies in Paris in at the peak of his glory — a glory that has concealed a ruthless totalitarian dictatorship, a rational despotism in which the rapid development of sciences and techniques is achieved at the expense of individual liberty. This text might have been a mere political pamphlet, but it is saved by its concern for verisimilitude in details and by its shrewd parody of institutional discourses the historian's, the statistician's, the legist's, etc.
Uchronia is less the refusal of real history than the recognition of its ineluctable laws: Another novel of alternative history is Renouvier's L'Uchronie a voluminous speculation by a neo-Kantian philosopher who modified one element of ancient history the transmission of power from Marcus Aurelius to Commodus so that he could imagine the history of the West as it could and should have been if Christianity had not spread over Europe. A serious even austere work, it also had no posterity.
In , 25 years before Verne, Pierre Boitard published the first story of adventure and scientific popularization for young people: This work depicts a voyage through the solar system, with the beings of each of the planets representing a stage of evolution: That was in , in a Christian review for families! Thus highly audacious SF appears in the most unexpected institutions, to disappear soon after. Two years after his death, Boitard's Paris avant les hommes  was published; it is the first Darwinian narrative, and in it the pre-historical ape-man makes his appearance.
Other novelists for children, Desnoyers and Driou , also use SF themes, but in a silly, wily way, with over-simple devices the world upside down, etc. Etienne Cabet, the promoter of Icarian socialism, gave a fictional form to his doctrine for strictly opportunistic reasons: Written in a drab style, with a thin and stupid plot, and with extreme over-systematization, Voyage en Icarie is void of any literary value, though its sociological importance is very great.
Cabet is the complete opposite of Fourier: Happiness is quantifiable; deviance is inconceivable, and the proselytism is stifling. One menu, one dress, one newspaper, one model of apartment — with the whole underlined by the sighs of admiration of the European travellers who have witnessed the marvels and narrate the story.
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If with Restif we have one of the first interplanetary voyages, with Grainville an epic in the Klopstock manner, with Bodin the first anticipation novel, with Geoffroy the first uchronia, we have with Emile Souvestre the first anti-industrial dystopia. His Monde tel qu'il sera is the paradigm of a genre later used by Robida and Wells, and still later by Zamiatin, Huxley, and Orwell. Souvestre's analogies to Orwell are really amazing.
Souvestre sees history as a process of cumulative, asymptotic degradation, a process that eliminates every traditional value in favor of the rule of quantity. The capitalist industrial society is extraneous to Man, whom it destroys, since it has no other law than its own maximal development, with the economic substituted for the biological.
Hyperbolic caricatures of the world of machines become a constant in satirical conjecture during this period, as with Grandville , draughtsman of genius whose pencil-stroke anticipates and heralds Albert Robida. Very different is Defontenay's Star ; recently republished in English , which by itself gives evidence of the unrecognized richness and audacity of French SF in the 19th century.
It is a description of a planetary system Psi Cassiopeia , of the races living on one of the planets, of their history, customs, mythology, and technology, and of the migration of the Starians through the planets of the system. The narrative is a model par excellence of SF: Known today as the inventor of plastic surgery, Charlemagne-Ischir Defontenay, a physician, was a disciple of Fourier and an admirer of Hoffman.
Some of the themes in his novel at the outset appreciated by a few amateurs, but then completely forgotten shed light on the ideological substratum of romantic SF. Such is the case, e.
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It is almost impossible to paraphrase such great SF, for its aesthetic merit lies in the multiplicity of systems, models, customs, and doctrines it permits us to appraise in all their complexity and entanglement. Defontenay's type of imagination can be opposed as much to Souvestre's anti-industrial pessimism as to Cabet's entropic socialism.
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It is of minor importance that Souvestre sees the dark shades and Cabet the rosy tints to his mind , for in both, the ideological pattern is the Leviathan-State, focusing the whole social energy on a rationalistic fetish, whether a despotic "socialist" planning or an idolatry of profit and profitability. To this implosion of the narrative into a dead-end conformity, Defontenay opposes the model of a continuum in which expansion of the novelistic world produces a liberation of the characters that is homologous to the imaginative liberation evidenced by the very form of the story.
Their success was immediate, and the sociological implantation was very strong: In terms of cultural sociology, Verne's success contrasts with the failures of all the other authors we have mentioned, from Restif to Defontenay. It is as if SF had for sixty years sought in vain for an institutional "landing point" and ideological model; as if, despite the quality of some of the works mentioned, powerful resistances had impeded any success for forms with an intense speculative drift or a strong utopian and social-satire element, so that the fiction of scientific conjecture was finally repressed and driven into a more timid institutional framework, one more easily watched over by social censorship.
It is obvious that Verne a writer whose coherence and complexity of vision place him among the greatest was able to skirt this censorship, thanks to his talent.
But it is important to note that his early success was apparently a consequence of the repression of and implicit interdicts on conjectural imagination since the revolution. By comparing the invariants of Verne with those of Bodin or Defontenay, the signs of this ideological repression can be discovered in the narrative recipe that Verne's talent was able to abide: Verne's genius consisted in making a virtue of these constraints, but it is striking that at the same time during the s other writers tried to propose to the same public what we may call a more audacious SF.
The titles speak for themselves: No less striking is the fact that all these novels were unsuccessful. They contrast with Verne's brilliant prosperity during these years.
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Even though there is no doubt that his talent placed him above the unsuccessful writers, the indirect censorship of pedagogical and cultural institutions must also be taken into account. Thus established literature at first rejected any form of SF as a foreign body. Made up of realistic genres, it welcomed only one type of imaginative story.
That type was not the gothic novel of which the masterpiece in France was the young Victor Hugo's Han d'Islande , , whose frenzy was censured in the name of good taste even more strongly in France than in England, and whose reign in the established literature was not long.
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The model of the genre is Maupassant's "Horla," which in fact combines the scientific explanation with the occultist non-explanation and thereby neutralizes knowledge by terror and terror by knowledge. In other words, the dominant bourgeois aesthetics in the 19th century tolerated imagination only when it expressed fear, the paranoia of interdicts and punishments, or the fetishism of mystery.
It refused or ignored it when it induced dreams of expanding universes, of the plurality of inhabited worlds, or of the happiness of metamorphoses. Jules Verne brought to SF a benign social justification: To the adult public, which he conquered right away in spite of the pretense of being a children's writer, he offered a vision of the world that D.
Suvin, in an apparent paradox, calls a "liberal utopia. Hence the absence of anticipations in Verne, the plot being always contemporary with the publication date. Verne's ideological position, however, is the product of the repression of the SF characterized by a pure imaginative liberation and by utopian critique, which appeared before him and which he helped to mask. After a new body of SF was gradually to appear, with Camille Flammarion who worked a vast spiritualist reconversion of positivist science, the eternity of the soul being proved by astronomy and modern physics and then in the literary avant-garde with the "philosophical" novels of Rosny the Elder who reintroduces a radical exteriority into the narrative world.
Dealing with these authors and others would lead us beyond the limits assigned to this study. It is important to understand that both the ideological niche attributed to Jules Verne who should no longer be called "the father of SF" and his status as a writer for young people are not fortuitous, but rather the product of institutional movements and specific ideological occultations.
To say this is in no way to diminish his genius, but is instead to make clear how the emergence of a new form is conditioned by the interaction of a number of cultural practices. Verne's first "scientific" novel is Cinq semaines en ballon , published in Paris by J.
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