29 March 2010

Paris in the Twentieth Century, by Jules Verne

Not one of the masterpieces of dystopian fiction, my friends. It's mostly pretty boring, despite Verne's affable style, and pretty crudely constructed. In terms of dystopian speculation, it's pretty disappointing. Basically, it's 1960 and machines do everything, and nobody cares about the humanities anymore. I have some sympathy for this of course, but really, the book just comes across as whining. The one thing that is of some interest is the fact that the only other complaint the book keeps returning to is the elimination of war. Because when people fought wars, there was honor, and glory, and men were manly and things mattered.

One could probably think a lot more deeply about the philosophical implications of this work, but at the end of the day, there are much better dystopian (and utopian) texts that merit the consideration - some of them by Verne himself. This "lost" novel, on the other hand, could probably have stayed lost without too many tears being shed.

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