EXHIBITS: The Real Jules Verne

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Science  26 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5581, pp. 483
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5581.483a

His novels foretold undersea exploration, space travel, and satellites, but Jules Verne wasn't the yea-saying apostle of science and technology most people think. Despite the wide-eyed tone of movies based on his work, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, in many of his novels Verne was skeptical about the benefits of scientific progress or even antiscientific.

Find out what Verne really wrote and thought at the Jules Verne Collection, a site created by Israeli mathematician and Verne buff Zvi Har'El. You can read illustrated Web texts of 18 of the 54 novels Verne published during his lifetime (1828–1905), as well as short stories, essays, and interviews. There's also a biography and a FAQ section that squashes some common misconceptions. (No, Verne didn't predict the atomic bomb.) In the criticism section, a Verne expert explains what the pessimism of the “new” Verne novel, Paris in the Twentieth Century—written in 1863 but not published until 1994—reveals about the evolution of the author's views. The book, which portrays the struggles of a poet in a high-tech but soulless future society, was so glum that Verne's publisher rejected it.


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