Jules Verne: a wonderful world to be discovered (3rd part)

Começo com saudações cordiais aos leitores deste blogue. Estão perante mais um post da longa saga verniana, no seguimento da publicação do artigo sobre a vida e obra do escritor genial. Como sabem estou a editar o artigo que escrevi para uma revista online em inglês da escola, em vários posts, um por cada dia da semana, para distribuir melhor a informação e tornar os textos mais apelativos (para este efeito também tenho recorrido a umas quantas imagens).

Hoje revelo momentos determinantes da carreira de Júlio Verne, partindo da difícil decisão de abdicar do ecletismo literário do qual tanto gostava. Num segundo segmento, caracterizo a primeira fase da obra verniana, referindo as suas principais obras e realçando o seu cariz científico e optimista. Por fim, após uma prolongada incursão ao mundo literário de Júlio Verne, regresso à esfera pessoal do escritor, relatando uma etapa complicada da sua vida, sobretudo em termos familiares.

Não deixa de ser curioso que um dos períodos mais fascinantes da produção literária de Júlio Verne coincida com momentos aflitivos de grande tensão doméstica. Enfim, não há vidas perfeitas. Felizmente, seguindo os exemplos positivos das suas personagens fabulosas, o maior literato que Nantes alguma vez viu nascer logrou a superação de todos os seus problemas. Mas isso fica para amanhã…

A dilema: Hetzel or diversity?

Pierre-Jules Hetzel: the critical editor and trustful friend of Jules Verne

Pierre-Jules Hetzel: the critical editor and friend of Jules Verne

Motivated by the positive impact of his first romance and the popularity of his theatre plays, Jules Verne soon started working on new projects. He didn’t know exactly what kind of books he was going to wrote, so he tried something totaly different: Paris in the Twentieth Century. This was supposed to be a science fiction romance whose main purpose was to predict how the French capital would be 100 years later and to criticise that future society in a pessimist way. Despite Verne’s powerful prediction abilities, Hetzel didn’t enjoy the literary style of the book and rejected the manuscript.

The refusal from Hetzel and the incisive book review the editor had made meant that Jules Verne had to choose between to possibilities:                                         1) writing everything he wanted to, producing all sorts of literature and looking for another editor;
2) focusing in adventures stories and travel narratives, which would require to forget his other projects, but would be a sensible decision because of Hetzel’s approval.

Jules Verne ended up by chosing the last one and he soon developed his second travel romance: The Adventures of Captain Hatteras. As it would be expected, Hetzel overjoyed when he read the new narrative an he didn’t need to think before deciding to publish the book. This beautiful story about a journey in the Artic region was another formidable success and catapulted the series of the Extraordinary Voyages.

First Literary phase: Positivism and Science

Around the Moon: Columbiad, the first spaceship in History

In the following years, Verne’s literary production was simply amazing. Journey to the Centre of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 8o Days are the most famous titles from those he had wrotten between 1864 and 1872. In fact, these four titles are probably the most well-known of his whole carrier and they are undoubtfuly among the top readest books of world literature.

In Journey to the Centre of the Earth, a German geologist tries to reach the Centre of the Earth planet through an extinct volcano in Iceland, followed by his nephew and a local guide. From the Earth to the Moon tells us the arrangements for a sruprising trip onto the Moon (please don’t forget it was written in the XIX Century) until the departure. The action is retaken until the end of the journey in a a continuation volume, called Around the Moon.

Twenty Thousand Leages Under the Sea: Fight Against the Squids

Twenty Thousand Leages Under the Sea: Fight Against the Squids

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is the fantastic report of an awesome underwater trip across all the oceans of the Earth aboard the Nautilus, a wonderful submarine built and habited by misterious Captain Nemo and his crew. All the facts are narrated by Porfessor Aronnax, who is forced to stay in the Nautilus among with his servant Conseil and the Canadian fisher Ned Land. Finally, Around the World in 8o Days is a futurist romance in which Jules Verne shows his belief on the possibilility of circling the Earth in an 80 days term.

The first 15 romances written by Verne constitute the first part of his literary carrier. This stage is usually known as the positivist phase of Jules Verne, base on the philosophical doutrine by Auguste Comte. These first books are settled in questions related to science and technique, thinking about the wonderful possibilities offered by scientific research.

The reader gets inside a fantastic adventures story in which the termodynamics and other scientific subjects are deeply explored and lead to some incredibile situations. These are the most optimist Verne’s romances and that is clear when we look at the characters’ personality.

Family Problems: Michel Verne

Michel Verne as a child: a massive headache for Jules Verne

Michel Verne as child: a massive headache for Jules Verne

By the time these great books were published, the Verne family used to spend the summer months in Crotoy, in Picardy, living in Paris in the rest of the year. However, when the Franco-Prussian War culminated, in 1870, Honorine and their children moved to Amiens, lookinf for safety, while Jules kept living in Paris.

He used to spend much of his time writing new romances away from his family and travelling around the globe. That is the reason why this period was so harmful for the family dynamics. As a consequence of his long absences, Michel Verne had too face some difficult problems during his childhood and he used to express his unhappiness by misbehaving himself. Jules and Honorine sent their son to an internate, but his emotional unbalance continued until he became an adult.

One curious fact is that both his books In Search of the Castaways and Dick Sand, a Captain at Fifteen worked as a way of expressing his sadness feelings regarding his strange problematic son. These romances were written by Verne in order to idealize his perfect concept of youth and he managed to do that by creating amazing characters aged under 18, whose bravery and courage was much bigger than it would be expected from a child.


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