Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Washington Post: Explorer of the Mind

This looks like a promising new biography; read the full review at the source link below: 

A voyager of the imagination, French novelist Jules Verne (1828-1905) found himself vexingly tethered to one genre. Driven by his publisher's commercial interests, he produced two or three books a year of scientific fantasy and adventure aimed at young readers.

Classics such as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1864), "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1869) and "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1872) continue to make him one of the most translated and recognized writers. Yet a decade before his death he wrote to an admirer that he was "the most unknown of men."

What was unknown, according to Verne's latest biographer, William Butcher, is how secondary futuristic science was to Verne's writing; his larger interest was in mankind's longing to understand itself. Verne was a psychological explorer, not a technophile, Butcher insists, and all the fantastical vessels -- the balloon, the submarine, the spaceship -- were simply means to an end. As Verne suggested, "human nature [is] the greatest science of all."

Source: Washington Post: Explorer of the Mind

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