SCIENCE-FICTION STUDIES, XXIII:2 #69 (July 1996): 171-187.

Arthur B. Evans

Literary Intertexts in Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires

Contrary to popular belief (in America, at least), Jules Verne was neither a scientist, nor an inventor, nor a geographer. He was a writer. During the 1850s, Verne was an aspiring young dramatist with a degree in law, a passionate love for literature, and a job at the Paris stock market. He began his professional writing career by penning short articles on scientific and historical to../pics for the lucrative journal Musée des Familles in order to supplement his meager income. Verne culled the facts he needed for these articles from long sessions in the Bibliothèque Nationale poring over various reference books, scientific magazines, and newspapers. In so doing, the young author came to envision the possibility of incorporating all this documentation into a new and innovative type of novel whose narrative format would simultaneously blend fiction with fact, adventure with didacticism, and literary motifs with scientific data. Some ten years later in 1863 (following his publisher Hetzel’s rejection of his first attempt at such a novel in Paris au XXe siècle), Verne’s Cinq semaines en ballon [Five Weeks in a Balloon] appeared—the first example of a new literary genre dubbed the roman scientifique and the first work in what would ultimately become the series called the Voyages Extraordinaires.1

One much-discussed trademark of Verne’s writing style is that he continually cites famous scientists, geographers, and historians—sometimes quoting sizable portions from their works and inserting them directly into his narratives. I have argued elsewhere, for instance, that Verne used this particular strategy to help increase the authoritative credibility of the scientific pedagogy contained in his novels, to bolster the verisimilitude of his fictional plot-structures, and to experiment stylistically with the juxtaposition of scientific and literary terminology.2

However, a much less-discussed aspect of Verne’s oeuvre (perhaps because of its pervasiveness) is his repeated allusions to well-known literary figures and their works—allusions which function so as to firmly anchor his narratives to a recognizable cultural tradition, and thereby broaden Verne’s own literary authoritativeness by identifying his novels more closely with those of the canonical literature(s) of his time. It is this aspect of Verne’s unique narrative recipe that I wish to investigate in the following essay.3

Verne’s literary tastes and training are easily discernable by the selection of authors whom he chooses to cite most frequently. Although, from French literature, he sometimes quotes “classical” writers like Rabelais,4 Cyrano de Bergerac,5 Honoré d’Urfé,6 Corneille,7 Racine,8 Voltaire,9 Diderot,10

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Fénelon,11 and La Fontaine12 when he is making a rhetorical point, Verne’s preferences generally run to more Romantic writers such as Rousseau,13 Dumas père,14 Victor Hugo,15 Alfred de Musset,16 Michelet,17 and Baudelaire18 when he is fleshing out fictional characters or portraying emotional states. And, although (like most educated 19th-century hommes de lettres) Verne is seemingly well-read in the Bible19 and in the writers of antiquity such as Ovid,20 Aristotle,21 Homer,22 Horace,23 and Virgil,24 he is nevertheless much more likely to cite or quote certain English and German authors with whom he apparently felt a certain spiritual kinship: novelists, poets, and dramatists like Shakespeare,25 Dickens,26 Wordsworth,27 Swift,28 Defoe,29 Pope,30 Byron,31 Goethe,32 and Hoffmann.33

In addition to their presence as overt literary citations, these authors and works can also be discerned in many of Verne’s habitually used themes, moral biases, and stylistic idiosyncracies. An exhaustive investigation of these (undoubtedly) thousands of intertextual phenomena would, of course, exceed the limits of this study. But pointing out and discussing a small number of them should suffice to highlight the broad scope of Verne’s borrowings and to suggest the omnipresence of these literary intertexts at all levels of his narration.

For example, the very goal of Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires as outlined by his publisher Hetzel—“to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astonomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format...the history of the universe”34—can be seen to closely resemble that of Verne’s friend and mentor Alexandre Dumas père as the latter once described the goal of his unfinished Isaac Laquédem:“...all this makes for a universal epic, which is nothing less that the history of the world”35 And there are a number of surprising parallels between Dumas’s epic novel and Verne’s own Voyage au centre de la Terre [Journey to the Center of the Earth]. For example, in Isaac Laquédem, the hero Laquédem is guided to the center of the Earth by Tyane, a scientist and disciple of Pythagoras. During the long subterranean descent, the former is obliged (much like Verne’s young Axel) to “build up an entire arsenal of Science”36 by examining the geological history of the planet as shown in the successive strata of rock through which they pass. At the Earth’s core, he is told:

“... there where the compressed air has, due to the pressure of the upper levels, acquired a greater density...exists an enclosed, spherically-shaped cavern which is illuminated by two pale stars known as Pluto and Proserpine."37

Similarly, in Verne’s Voyage au centre de la Terre, as his three explorers discover an unknown world inside the Earth, Axel exclaims:

“Then I remembered this theory about an English captain who compared the Earth to a huge, hollow sphere where, in its interior, the air stayed luminous because of the pressure, and where two stars, Pluto and Proserpine, circled there in their mysterious orbits. Could he have been right?”38

Further, in his Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (published the following year), Verne’s scientist Dr. Clawbonny explains to the crew of the British ship Forward during their voyage toward the north pole:

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“Finally, it has recently been claimed that, at the poles, there was an immense opening, which was the source of the lights of the aurora borealis, and by which one could penetrate into the interior of the world. Then, inside this hollow sphere, it was imagined that there existed two planets, Pluto and Proserpine, and that the air was luminous because of the strong pressure exerted on it.”

“They said all that?” asked Altamont.

“And wrote about it, and very seriously. Captain Synness, one of our countrymen, even proposed to Humphry Davy, Humboldt, and Arago that they attempt an expedition. But these scientists refused.”39

Both Dumas and Verne’s fictional speculations on this matter have been noted by scholars, who invariably attribute them to a common 19th-century source. In 1818, a certain Yankee (not British) infantry captain named John Cleves Symmes (not “Synness”) attracted world-wide attention, sparked international controversy, and inspired numerous hollow-earth stories both during his lifetime and after40 when he made the following appeal:

To All the World! I declare the Earth is hollow, and habitable within; containing a number of concentrick [sic] spheres, one within the other, and that is it open at the poles 12 or 16 degrees; I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow if the world will support and aid me in this undertaking.41

Two years later, in 1820, a certain Captain Adam Seaborn published one of the first American utopias called Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery—a supposed chronicle of his voyage to the interior of the Earth via an opening at the pole and his discovery of an idyllic subterranean civilization therein42. Subsequently, in 1826, Symmes’s hollow-Earth hypotheses were published in a “scientific” treatise entitled Symmes’s Theory of Concentric Spheres.43

But, contrary to accepted belief, nowhere in Seaborn’s novel nor in Symmes’s various texts does one find any mention of the center of the Earth containing the two planet/stars “Pluton et Proserpine” or of a luminous “compressed” atmosphere supposedly surrounding them. Verne, who normally gleaned his scientific documentation from newspaper reports, journal articles, and reference books, appears to have culled the details of this particular theory directly from the imaginative fiction of Alexandre Dumas.

A great many other French littérateurs haunt the pages of the Voyages Extraordinaires—some quite explicitly, others more implicitly. Let us take the unlikely example of the French symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire, for instance. Although traditionally categorized at opposite ends of the literary spectrum, echoes of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal can often be heard in Verne’s texts. In fact, the first few verses of the Baudelaire’s poem titled “LeVoyage” could be viewed as emblematic of both the implied reader and the thematic scope of the Voyages Extraordinaires as a whole: “For the child who loves postcards and stamps, the universe is equal to his vast appetite...”44 But more specific baudelairian intertexts are also embedded in the narrative fabric of several Vernian novels. For example, when viewed in the context of the opening verses of Baudelaire’s poem “L’Homme et la Mer” [“Man and the Sea”]—“Free man, you will always cherish the sea!”45—Captain Nemo’s empassioned praises of the sea in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers [Twenty

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Thousand Leagues under the Sea]—“Ah, monsieur, to live in the bosom of the seas! There alone is independence! There I recognize no masters! There I am free!”46—seem doubly suggestive. And Baudelaire’s obsession with the passage of time, often anthropomorphized into images such as the one in his poem “L’Horloge” [“The Clock”], reappears in a surprisingly similar fashionin Verne’s short story “Maître Zacharius” [“Master Zacharius”] which is a rather fantastic tale about a Faustian Geneva clockmaker whose soul, bartered for fame and fortune, is consumed by a living incarnation of his handiwork.Lastly, in attempting perhaps to give the flying machine a greater degree of poetic amplitude, Verne conferred upon the ship-like helicopter of Robur-le-conquérant [published in English as Robur the Conqueror and as The Clipper of the Clouds] the name “L’Albatros”—recalling the famous allegorical poem of the same name by Baudelaire, a poem which ends by explaining:
The Poet is similar to this prince of the clouds
Who haunts the tempest and laughs at the archer;
Exiled on the ground amidst hoots of scorn,
His giant’s wings prevent him from walking.47
Verne’s narrative strategy seems clear. The function of his literary citations as credibility-builders has been noted. But, in this case, Verne’s use of the term “L’Albatros” (with the many literary connotations that it carries, from Coleridge to Poe and from Michelet to Baudelaire) serves to complement his portrayal of the fictional hero of this novel, Robur himself. For Robur, a true “prince of the clouds” (as Captain Nemo might be called—quite literally, as we discover in L’Ile mystérieuse [The Mysterious Island]—a “prince of the seas”), also found himself to be an “exile” on land and jeered at by his contemporaries. But, once aboard his powerful airship, this technological génie braves the worst of storms and soars far above the bullets fired at him, exulting in his supremacy over his earthbound rivals. Baudelaire’s poetic allegory is thus clothed in new scientific regalia; it is now the scientist who becomes the poet, and it is now the machine (and the knowledge that created it) which becomes the symbol of earthly transcendence.

Intertexts from English, German, and American literature are also abundant in Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires. The floating island-utopia of L’Ile à hélice [Propeller Island], for example, is reminiscent not only of those mobile sail-propelled cities described by Cyrano de Bergerac in Les Etats et empires du soleil [The States and Empires of the Sun] but also of Swift’s Laputa in Gulliver’s Travels. Certain scenes and characters in Verne’s P’tit-Bonhomme [Foundling Mick] and Le Rayon vert [The Green Ray] strongly resemble their counterparts in certain novels by Dickens such as David Copperfield and Oliver Twist48. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe seems almost omnipresent in the dozens of shipwreck, castaway, and colonization motifs that proliferate throughout the Voyages Extraordinaires. Shakespeare’s Shylock of The Merchant of Venice is duplicated in Isac [sic] Hakhabut of Verne’s Hector Servadac [in English as Hector Servadac and as Off on a Comet]. And E.T.A.Hoffmann’s The Sandman is the thematic touchstone for Verne’s gothic Le Château des Carpathes [The Carpathian Castle], among other novels.49

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But three foreign authors in particular seem to have exerted a powerful influence on Jules Verne during his early career and, as a result, are truly ubiquitous in Verne’s work: James Fenimore Cooper, Walter Scott, and Edgar Allan Poe.

James Fenimore Cooper’s exotic tales of the New World in his so-called “Leatherstocking” series—The Pioneers (1823), The Last of the Mohicans(1826), The Prairie (1827), The Pathfinder (1840), and The Deerslayer (1841)—as well as in his sea-faring novels like The Pilot (1823), seem to have fired the imagination of young Verne and prompted him to consciously imitate this author in his earliest short stories for the Museé des Familles. Concerning the first of these, Un Drame au Mexique [A Drama in Mexico]—originally titled “Les Premiers navires de la marine mexicaine” [“The First Ships of the Mexican Navy”]—Verne confided to his father in 1851: “My article for Pitre-Chevalier is but a simple adventure-story in the style of Cooper which I am locating in Mexico.”50 Pitre-Chevalier, the editor of Musée des Familles, introduced the second—entitled Martin Paz—saying: “...our readers will undoubtedly appreciate once again an example of this very different genre wherein all of Peru—its history, races, customs, landscapes, national dress, etc.—will be revealed to them by M. Jules Vernes [sic] through this exciting story à la Cooper.”51 And, as his repeated references to Cooper throughout this later novels clearly indicate,52 Verne apparently never lost his taste for these adventure tales of early America. In an interview in 1895, at the age of 67, he confirmed: “I never tire of Fenimore Cooper; certain of his romances deserve true immortality and will, I trust, be remembered long after the so-called literary giants of a later age are forgotten.”53

Not only are Cooper’s name and literary works frequently mentioned in the pages of the Voyages Extraordinaires, but a number of direct “borrowings” are also quite evident (sometimes credited, sometimes not). For example, note the striking similarity of plot structures between Verne’s L’Ile mystérieuse and Cooper’s little-known novel The Crater, or Vulcan’s Peak.54 The latter—published 27 years prior to Verne’s—tells of a castaway on a volcanic island who, after his rescue, returns there with a group of homesteaders to colonize it, succeeds in establishing a prosperous colony, defends it against attacking pirates, and is forced to flee at the end as the island paradise explodes and sinks into the sea. Other obvious examples include Cooper’s memorable characters of Hawkeye and Chingachgook, undoubtedly the source for Nic Deck’s woodsmanship and survival skills in Verne’s Le Château des Carpathes55 as well as this exotic frontier food—“an Indian preparation called ‘pemmican’ which contains a great many nutritive elements in a small volume”56—often carried by a number of Vernian explorers. Or, as an even more direct reference to Cooper, consider the following passage from Les Enfants du capitaine Grant [Captain Grant’s Children] where Verne’s protagonists are on the Argentine Pampas and discussing what to do in the event of a prairie fire:

... Paganel exclaimed with visible satisfaction. “That happens sometimes and, as for me, I would not be at all unhappy to witness such a spectacle.”

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“There goes our scientist again,” answered Glenarvan. “He would pursue scientific inquiry so far as getting himself burned alive.”

“My heavens no, my dear Glenarvan. But in having read one’s Cooper, one would know how Leatherstocking saved himself from a prairie fire by pulling out the grass around himself for a dozen meters or so. Nothing could be simpler. Therefore, not only do I not fear the approach of such a fire, I look forward to it!"57

Passages such as this one are very representative of how Verne often mixed didacticism and adventure in his narratives in a way that was both utile and dulce (as Horace would say). Integrated directly into the plot structure and mediated through the novel’s protagonists—as opposed, for example, to a de-personified lecture by an external narrator—the pedagogical lesson enhances rather than distracts from the flow of the fictional narrative itself. Typically, Verne’s heroes almost always escape in the nick of time from an impending catastrophe by utilizing some tidbit of practical knowledge remembered by the scientist of the group. Most often, such knowledge (and, implicitly, the lesson to be learned by the reader) is scientific in nature, providing happy outcomes to the various cliff-hanging episodes in which Verne’s protagonists seem to repeatedly find themselves. Here, the lesson was gleaned from having read Cooper. And, by inserting such a passage into the plot (almost gratuitously, since the fire was never to occur), Verne adroitly fulfills a number of narratological needs: he not only instructs his readers, in boy-scout fashion, about what to do if they are caught in a brush fire on the prairie, but he also underscores the educational and authoritative value of “one’s Cooper”—i.e., a text which, ostensibly, everybody must (or should) both own and refer to for such useful tips. Further, in citing Cooper in this manner, Verne not only increases the verisimilitude of his fictional characters—who have read these “real” books—but also implicitly identifies his own novels with those of Cooper and, as a result, augments his own pedagogical credibility and literary standing. And finally, by making use of such an intertextual reference, Verne also succeeds in adding an element of “New World” exoticism to his narration while indirectly pointing out the many parallels between the on-going adventures of Paganel, Glenarvan, and company and those of the legendary “Bas de Cuir” [“Leatherstocking”].

Another English-language author whom Verne uses for similar purposes is Walter Scott, whose historical romances were to leave a deep and lasting imprint on the novels of the Voyages Extraordinaires. In a 1895 interview, Verne explains:

All my life I have delighted in the works of Sir Walter Scott, and during a never-to-be-forgotten tour in the British Isles, my happiest days were spent in Scotland. ... Of course, to one familiar with the works of Scott, there is scarce a district of his native land lacking some association with the writer and his immortal work.58
And, as might be expected, Verne’s references to Scott and his works are indeed frequent in his Voyages Extraordinaires,59 and many of Verne’s fictional characters are closely patterned after those in Waverley (1814), Rob Roy

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(1818), and Ivanhoe (1819). But, more often, Scott’s works seem to serve as an intertextual filter through which Verne’s Romantic “vision” of Scotland is expressed—most particularly in his two novels Les Indes noires [The Black Indies] and Le Rayon vert. Consider, for example, the following passage from the latter novel describing Fingal Cave:
“What an enchanting place” Miss Campbell quietly said, “and what person would be so prosaic as to not believe that it wasn’t specially created for sylphs and water sprites—these spirits for whom the sounds of this huge wind harp would play whenever the wind blows? Wasn’t it this heavenly music that Waverly [sic] heard in his dreams, this voice of Selma whose chords our novelist used as a lullaby for his heros?”

“You are right, Miss Campbell,” answered Olivier, “and doubtlessly when Walter Scott was searching for a perfect image for his poetic history of the Highlands, he thought first of Fingal’s cave.”60

In this passage, Scott’s novel Waverley serves as a rich cultural touchstone that is obviously quite familiar to the fictional protagonists. This literary reference enables them (and Verne) not only to articulate more clearly their impressions of the geographical site itself but also to express more poetically their emotions when viewing it. Apart from the pedagogical intent of this passage—i.e., the geographical “sources” of Scott’s inspiration—Verne once again succeeds intextually associating himself with a famous author while using him in stepping-stone fashion to deepen the poetic overtones of his descriptions. It is important to note that portraying certain emotions (like love) was often quite difficult for Verne, by his own admission.61 One could therefore argue that, in addition to the many other narratological functions of such persistent literary name-dropping we find in his fiction, another role they seem to play is to provide an acceptable (albeit second-hand) vehicle for foregrounding sentimentality. Consider, for example, the following passage from Les Enfants du capitaine Grant:
One day they would stroll in a birch and tamarack wood, among vast fields of yellowish heather; another day, they would climb the steep hills of Ben Lomond, or ride horseback across the wild glens, studying, understanding and admiring the famous sites of this poetic land still named “the country of Rob Roy” and sovaliantly immortalized by Walter Scott. In the evening, as the sun went down and “MacFarlane’s lantern” burned on the horizon, they would wander along the “bartazens,” an ancient circular gallery which formed a circle of battlements around Malcolm Castle, and there, pensive, alone, and as if they were the last people on Earth, they would sit on a piece of broken stone in the middle of Nature’s silence, beneath the pale shafts of moonlight, watching the falling night darken the mountaintops, and quietly savouring this pure rapture that only those whose hearts are filled with love can ever understand.62
The Romantic exoticism of this passage is constructed around three basic focal points: the technical and local-usage lexicon (which serves a pedagogical function as well as adding a measure of “otherness”), the état d’âme Nature-Man leitmotif (which valorizes and gives literary credibility to the fictional rêverie portrayed), and the name of Walter Scott himself (who stands, literally, in the center of this passage—acting as a catalyst to all those rich literary associations

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evoked by the mention of his name), an allusion which also facilitates the reader’s assimilation of the somewhat long series of typically Romantic clichés that follow him. Thus, in the case of Walter Scott at least, Verne’s repeated use of such author-references in his Voyages Extraordinaires seems triply strategic: they augment the “author-ity” of his didacticism, they enhance the “literary-ness” of his narration, and they provide a credible conduit for portraying emotion in his fictional characterizations.

Finally, Edgar Allan Poe’s substantial influence on Jules Verne is amply illustrated by the many fine studies devoted to this topic during the 20th century.63 How, after reading Baudelaire’s translation of Poe’s works, Verne developed his first notions of what would eventually become the Voyages Extraordinaires is an oft-repeated observation in Vernian criticism—to the extent, one might say, that it has become common knowledge. And the facts do indeed seem to speak for themselves. From his article written on Poe early in his career for the Musée des Familles to his masterful Le Sphinx des glaces [The Ice Sphinx] where he completes Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Verne was a life-long admirer (and imitator) of this particular American author. But, as with many other aspects of Jules Verne’s life and works, a number of myths and misconceptions continue to exist about his literary debt to Edgar Allan Poe, and the record needs to be set straight.

Although no solid documentation is available to prove it, Verne’s initial discovery of Edgar Allan Poe (or “Edgard Poë” as he always persisted in spelling it) probably first came through Nadar,64 who was a mutual acquaintance of both Verne and Baudelaire, the latter since the mid-1840s. It was Baudelaire who wrote an article on Poe in 1852 entitled “Edgar Poe, sa vie et ses oeuvres” [“Edgar Poe, His Life and Works”] for the Revue de Paris,65 and later in 1856 he published the first French translation of Poe’s works which he called Histoires Extraordinaires [Extraordinary Stories]—a title of some significance when considering that of Verne’s own series. The noted Vernian biographer Allotte de la Füye places the Verne-Poe encounter in 1851, saying: “During this period, Jules Verne, an avid reader of English fiction, must have already read Poe’s Extraordinary Tales [sic] in the original.”66 But this statement is extremely doubtful on two grounds: first, because Verne could not read English (it was his biographers who invented this myth about him) and, second, because it was not until 1862 that Verne first began to mention Poe in his correspondence—references which multiplied rapidly after this date and which culminated, two years later, in his own article for the Musée des Familles entitled “Edgard Poë et ses oeuvres.” [“Edgard Poë and his Works.”]67

Before examining Verne’s article on Poe, however, it is interesting to take note of the following book review of Verne’s then newly-published novel called Cinq semaines en ballon. This review appeared (anonymously) in the Musée des Familles in 1863:

M. Jules Verne is of the same school as the American novelist Edgard Poë. Like Poë, he knows how to link fiction to reality in proportions so exact that one does not know where one begins and the other leaves off. What’s more, Verne has the

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advantage of being clearer and, if I might express it thus, more logical in his inventiveness.68
Although such an assertion may at first seem surprising, the evidence suggests that Verne himself was responsible for writing this review of his own novel. First, such a practice was (and continues to be) rather commonplace in the publishing industry. Second, note the spelling of “Edgard Poë.” And third, compare the two statements concerning Poe’s alliance of fiction and reality—as well as the lack of logic in his inventions—with certain views expressed by Verne in his later article “Edgard Poë et ses oeuvres.”

Verne begins his 1864 article praising Poe, explaining some aspects of Poe’s life, and analyzing lengthy excerpts from Poe’s works. Verne then goes on to say: “... they occupy an important place in the history of imaginative works because Poë created a distinct literary genre all his own. One might call him the leader of the School of the Strange.”69 And speaking of Poe’s “Three Sundays in a Week,” Verne continues:

... Then the third individual would accomplish the same voyage, under the same conditions, but in the opposite direction, going east, and after his circumnavigation of the world, and he would be behind by one day. What would happen if all three travellers met one Sunday at their starting point? For the first, it would beyesterday, for the second today, and for the third tomorrow. So you see, this is truly a cosmological joke told in very curious terms indeed...70
Contrary to most scholarship on the subject, it would not be unreasonable to see in this passage the inspiration for Verne’s future Le Tour du monde en 80 jours (1873) [Around the World in Eighty Days]. In similar fashion, one might easily discern the origins of Verne’s much later Le Sphinx des glaces (1897) from his comments on the conclusion of Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym:
And the narrative is left hanging at this point. Who will ever complete it? Surely someone more audacious than I and someone more willing to explore the realm of the impossible.71
But it is especially those attributes of Poe’s narrative style which Verne singles out for praise or for criticism that are the most intertextually suggestive. For example, while lauding the exotic “newness” of Poe’s subject matter and fictional portrayals, Verne nevertheless attacks his apparent lack of concern for the role of Providence in human affairs, the rampant materialism of his vision, and the manner in which Poe twists natural laws to suit his fictional needs (a criticism Verne later would level against his British rival H.G. Wells):
... what one must admire in the works of Poë are the novelty of situations, the discussion of little-known facts, the observation of the compulsive faculties of Man, the choice of his subject-matter... Allow me also to draw attention to the purely materialistic aspect of his fictions. One never witnesses any kind of providential intervention; Poë seems not to admit it and claims to explain everything by physical laws which he invents whenever he needs them; one does not feel in him any sort of faith which the incessant contemplation of the supernatural should give him. He works in a kind of “cold fantastic,” if I might express it thus. He is a fervent disciple of materialism; but I imagine that this is less the fault of his temperament

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and perhaps more the influence of this purely practical and industrial society of the United States in which he lived.72
These observations are significant not only as critical commentary on Poe’s own narrative practices, but also on Verne’s—in understanding, for example, the importance that religion will have throughout the Voyages Extraordinaires, in grasping Verne’s Taine-like views of the American social psyche—vividly portrayed in several of his Yankee protagonists like those in De la Terre à la lune [From the Earth to the Moon] or L’Ile à hélice [Propeller Island]—or inappreciating Verne’s intransigence about using only “real” science in his fictions. And it also becomes clear why Verne, although claiming to be of the same literary “school” as Poe in his book review of 1863, saw fit to qualify that statement as he did. As one critic was later to express the similarity between these two authors: “Poe’s use of scientific detail must have attracted Verne ... But where Poe is the doomed poet of the Inward, Verne is the supreme celebrant of the Outward.”73

Although it is true that Edgar Allan Poe stands as the most frequently cited author—foreign or domestic—in all of Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires, this quantitative fact is somewhat deceptive: the number of times that Poe is mentioned or quoted at length in Le Sphinx des glaces alone is enough to skew all comparisons. Of more intertextual consequence are Verne’s many concrete borrowings from Poe. In terms of the former’s character portrayals, for instance, a comparison of Poe’s “The Man That Was Used Up” with the Gun-Club members of De la Terre à la Lune suggests more than simple coincidence. And, in addition to those probable sources mentioned earlier, certain themes and plot structures in Poe’s tales tend to reappear quite regularly (albeitin slightly modified form) throughout a great many of Verne’s novels and short stories. Compare, for example, the cryptograms of Poe’s “The Gold Bug” with Verne’s Voyage au centre de la Terre, La Jangada [The Giant Raft], and Mathias Sandorf; the maelstrom of Poe’s MS Found in a Bottle and A Descent in the Maelstrom with Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers and “Un Hivernage dans les glaces” [“Wintering in the Ice”]; the “accelerated” populace of Poe’s “The Devil in the Belfry” with Verne’s “Le Docteur Ox”; the maritime cannibalism of Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym with Verne’s Le Chancellor [The Wreck of the Chancellor]; the discussions of mesmerism in Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valemar” and “Mesmeric Revelation” with Verne’s Mathias Sandorf and L’Ile mystérieuse; the study of hoaxes in Poe’s “The Balloon Hoax” with Verne’s “Le Humbug” and the list goes on. Further, there are sometimes striking parallels between the two authors’ writing styles: the passages of pure pedagogy intercalated into the narrative; the ship’s log as a device for first-person narration; the frequent use of technicisms, neologisms, and foreign languages; a penchant for surprise and/or cliff-hanging chapter endings; and the repeated use of the “detective story” format as a means to valorize scientific inquiry, among other similarities. A limited number of these intertextual phenomena have been identified and discussed in the critical scholarship devoted to these two authors of the

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extraordinaire. But most have yet to be fully explored, and the potential for detailed comparative exegesis remains very rich indeed.

Before leaving the realm of Verne’s literary sources, one last group of cited intertexts must be discussed: those of Verne himself. Throughout Verne’s works, repeated reference to characters, plots, and actual titles of previously-published novels of the Voyages Extraordinaires is astonishingly frequent. This practice of textual self-citation performs many useful narratological tasks: it acts as a sort of “binder” which adds a measure of continuity and unity to the series, it tends to increase the verisimilitude of the fictional events portrayed, and it helps to insert Verne’s own works into the same dimension of extra-textual referents occupied by those authoritative scientific and literary works which he constantly cites.

The most obvious manifestation of this intriguing practice are the many “plugs” of his own novels that Verne incorporates into his narratives via footnotes, parenthetical anecdotes, prefaces, and even the dialogues of his fictional protagonists. Note, for example, the “theatre” conversations between M. and Mme Caterna in Claudius Bombarnac74 where casual mention is made of the fact that Jules Verne’s Michel Strogoff [Michel Strogoff, Courier of the Czar] was currently playing at the Châtelet theatre—it was during this period, of course, that the play was actually being performed there—or the many footnotes in Verne’s Sans dessus dessous [Topsy-Turvy]75 (perhaps added by Hetzel?) that catalogue previously-published novels in the series such as De laTerre à la Lune, Autour de la Lune [Around the Moon], L’Ecole des Robinsons [The School for Crusoes], and Hector Servadac. One hypothesis which might explain such references could be the sluggish sales of Verne’s later novels: these “advertisements”—inserted directly into the narratives themselves—seem to occur only in those works published after 1889. And three historical developments taking place in France during this period would appear to lend some credence to such an assertion. First, promulgating a radical change in the nation’s educational policy (previously controlled by the Catholic Church), the Third Republic now mandated access to the instruction of science in the public schools. Second, the French publishing industry throughout this period was witnessing a massive influx of Verne-like novels of scientific fiction into the French marketplace. And third (perhaps as a direct result of the previous two), the until-then booming sales of Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires suddenly began to taper off dramatically.76

A final variant of Verne’s auto-intertextuality consists of the three groups of “serial” novels in the Voyages Extraordinaires: the two trilogies of Les Enfants du capitaine Grant/Vingt mille lieues sous les mers/L’Ile mystérieuse and De la Terre à la Lune/Autour de la Lune/Sans dessus dessous and the two-novel series of Robur-le-conquérant/Maître du Monde. In these texts, the same characters reappear and continue the saga in a new setting, or one character provides the link between an earlier novel and a subsequent one. For example, Robur is the hero and the anti-hero respectively, Barbicane and his Gun-Club continue their (literally) world-shaking ballistic experiments, and Ayrton is discovered on the South Sea island where he was marooned, etc. In one

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instance, the published text itself provides the physical link: the heroes of L’Ile mystérieuse recognize an aging Captain Nemo and his Nautilus because they have previously read Professor Aronnax’s book on the subject entitled Vingt mille lieues sous les mers. Verne’s narrative strategy thus proves to be doubly effective: not only does such a reference provide the fictional framework (and credibility) necessary for the story to unfold, but it also serves to further blur the boundaries for the reader between the real and the unreal, between fiction and non-fiction, between imagination and reality.

Needless to say, this practice of “recycling” always takes as its point of departure only those novels which initially enjoyed a huge commercial success. But one interesting attribute of these sequels is that they invariably present some form of reversal when compared to their predecessors. Robur’s case is exemplary, but a host of other examples confirm this observation: Ayrton the arch-villain and convict is rehabilitated and becomes a hero in his own right; Nemo the mysterious, powerful, and rebellious wanderer of the seas becomes a repentant old man on his deathbed (the Nautilus having for some time been imprisoned inside an island sea-cave) who reveals his true identity while confessing his past sins; Barbicane, Maston, and company not only fail in their ambitious engineering enterprise but become laughable caricatures of their former selves as Verne satirizes both them and their positivistic hubris. These later novels clearly portray Verne’s own personal evolution—his rapidly changing views on the intrinsic value of scientific and technological growth versus that of social responsibility and ecological preservation. That is to say, Verne continually and deliberately undermines the ideological foundations upon which his earlier (and more popular) texts were constructed.

To briefly conclude this overview, if one wished to locate a kind of one-stop-shopping catalogue of the various scientific and literary sources and intertextual references in Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires, an excellent place to begin would be Captain Nemo’s impressive library aboard the Nautilus—reminiscent (albeit on a much more sumptuous scale) of the library that Verne had installed aboard his own yacht while completing the rough draft of a novel later to be called Vingt mille lieues sous les mers:

It was a library. High pieces of furniture made of black violet ebony inlaid with brass supported upon their wide shelves a great number of books, uniformly bound. The shelves followed the shape of the room and terminated at the lower part in huge couches, covered with brown leather, which were curved to afford the greatest comfort. Light, movable desks, made to slide in and out at will, allowed one to place one’s book down while reading. In the center stood a large table, covered with pamphlets, among which were some newspapers that were already old. Electric light flooded this harmonious ensemble from four unpolished globes half-sunk into the vaulted ceiling. ...

Among these works I noticed masterpieces of the ancients and the moderns, all the finest works that mankind has produced in history, poetry, the novel and science, from Homer to Victor Hugo, from Xenophon to Michelet, from Rabelais to Madame Sand. But works of science, in particular, held an important place in the library. Books on mechanics, ballistics, hydrography, meteorology, geography, geology, etc., were just as prominent as works of natural history. ... I saw there

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all the works of Humboldt, Arago, Foucault, Henri Sainte-Claire Deville, Chasles, Milne-Edwards, Quatrefages, Tyndall, Faraday, Berthelot, the Abbé Secchi, Petermann, the commander Maury, Agassiz, and more. Also included were the memoirs of the Academy of Sciences, the bulletins of various geographical societies, etc.77
This imaginary library78 aboard the Nautilus represents a rich locus of Verne’s actual source material—a kind of ambulatory Bibliothèque Nationale, if you will, devoted to the world’s recognized masterpieces of science and literature. As such, it seems to aptly embody the two-fold goals of the Voyages Extraordinaires themselves: “instruction which entertains, entertainment which instructs...”79 But it is also fascinating to note that there is one glaring lacuna in Captain Nemo’s collection. As Professor Aronnax observes: “There were works on science, ethics, and literature in many languages. But not one single book on political economy. That subject seemed to have been strictly proscribed.”80 In Nemo’s underwater utopia, no books by political economists are permitted. Which is perhaps as it should be...but that’s another story.


  1. For a more detailed study of the life and works of Jules Verne, see Charles-Noël Martin, La Vie et l’oeuvre de Jules Verne (Paris: Michel de l’Ormeraie, 1978), William Butcher, Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Self (London: Macmillan, 1990), Andrew Martin’s The Mask of the Prophet (NY: Oxford UP, 1990), and my own Jules Verne Rediscovered (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988). All English translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
  2. Cf. my “Functions of Science in French Fiction,” Studies in the Literary Imagination XXII (1989): 79-100, and “Science Fiction versus Scientific Fiction in France: from Verne to Rosny Aîné,” SFS 15:1-11, #44, March 1988.
  3. For more on this topic of intertextuality in Verne’s works, see Daniel Compère, Jules Verne, Ecrivain. Geneva: Droz, 1991.
  4. Cited in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1966), 31, 107, 322; in Le Chancellor (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1967), 82; in L’Ile à hélice (Paris: Ed. “10/18,” 1978), 40. All subsequent references to editions and page numbers will be taken from the Livre de Poche edition of the Voyages Extraordinaires unless otherwise noted.
  5. Cited, as one might expect, in De la Terre à la Lune (28).
  6. Cited in Le Château des Carpathes (3) and in L’Ile à hélice (“10/18,” 41).
  7. Hector Servadac (437).
  8. L’Ile à hélice (“10/18,” 76).
  9. De la Terre à la Lune (247).
  10. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (73).
  11. Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (316) and in Sans dessus dessous (90).
  12. Hier et demain [Yesterday and Tomorrow] (22) and La Maison à vapeur [The Steam House] (299).
  13. Sans dessus dessous (48) and, although slightly misquoted, Le Village aérien [The Village in the Treetops] (Les Humanoïdes associés, 85).
  14. Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 15, 39). Note also the dedication in Mathias Sandorf in which Verne honors both Dumas père and fils saying: “I dedicate this book to you while dedicating it also to the memory of that storyteller of genius who was Alexandre Dumas, your father. In this work, I have tried to make of Mathias Sandorf the Monte-Cristo (sic) of the Extraordinary Voyages.” It is also significant that Verne describes Dumas père here as a “storyteller”—a title he always preferred for himself

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    during his latter years (v. Jules Verne, “Correspondance avec Mario Turiello.” Europe 613 [1980], 108-35).
  15. By far the most cited and quoted French author throughout Verne’s works, Victor Hugo is mentioned in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (107, 569), Autour de la Lune (78), La Maison à vapeur (128), Le Château des Carpathes (91, 115), Le Testament d’un excentrique [The Last Will of an Eccentric] (Hachette, 25), and L’Etonnante aventure de la mission Barsac [The Amazing Adventure of the Barsac Mission] (Les Humanoïdes associés, 368-69), among other novels. Verne’s fervent admiration for “Le Poète” is also visible in his correspondence with his family (v. Jules Verne, “Jules Verne: 63 lettres.” Bulletin de la Société Jules Verne 11-13 [1938], 47-129). But, purely in terms of textual dynamics, Verne’s constant quoting of Hugo—particularly during this period in France—constituted a powerful device for strengthening the “reader-identification” dimension of his fictions.
  16. Le Château des Carpathes (140) and Le Rayon vert (140).
  17. Le Rayon vert (213) and Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (107, 379), and quoted in Mathias Sandorf (Hetzel, 271).
  18. Clovis Dardentor (“10/18,” 17), slightly misquoted in Le Village aérien (Les Humanoïdes associés, 17), and mentioned in his article on Edgar Allan Poe, “Edgard Poë et ses oeuvres” Musée des familles (avril 1864), 113.
  19. De la Terre à la Lune (338), Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (846), Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 182), Le Village aérien (Les Humanoïdes associés, 138-39), and Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz [The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz] (Les Humanoïdes associés, 49). Quoted in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (64, 343) and in L’Ile mystérieuse (325).
  20. Robur-le-conquérant (Rencontre, 4).
  21. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (369, 563).
  22. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (31, 107), Autour de la Lune (78), and Le Docteur Ox (26).
  23. Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (372) and Mathias Sandorf (Hetzel, 294).
  24. Often quoted by Verne—in Latin—in novels such as Voyage au centre de la Terre (100, 156), Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (369), and Un Capitaine de 15 ans [The Boy Captain] (Hachette, 20).
  25. Verne’s favorite English-language dramatist (he owned a complete collection of Shakespeare’s works) and whose plays are frequently cited in the Voyages Extraordinaires: e.g., in De la Terre à la Lune (41, 225), Le Rayon vert (10), Les Enfants du capitain Grant (356), Le Chancellor (18), Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 39, 119), L’Ile à hélice (“10/18,” 129, 229), and Voyage au centre de la Terre (73) among many other novels.
  26. Repeatedly mentioned by Verne in personal interviews and cited in Le Rayon vert (3) and Bourses de Voyage [Travel Scholarships] (15). In an interview with an English journalist in 1904, when asked who was his favorite author of all time, Verne replied: “For me, the works of Charles Dickens stand alone, dwarfing all others bytheir amazing power and felicity of expression. What humor and what exquisite pathos are to be found contrasted in his pages! How the figures seem actually to live, and their printed utterances to become transformed into audible speech! I have read and reread his masterpieces again and again...” (Gordon Jones, “Jules Verne at Home,” Temple Bar 129 [1904]: 669).
  27. Quoted in Le Rayon vert (15).
  28. Cited in Autour de la Lune (132).
  29. Daniel Defoe’s masterpiece Robinson Crusoe could well be considered the most omnipresent literary intertext throughout the Voyages Extraordinaires, given the number and variety of “robinsonades” which continuously appear in the series. Verne’s obsession with Crusoe-like shipwrecks, do-it-yourselfism, and self-contained/enclosed

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    spaces (v. Roland Barthes, “Nautilus et Bateau Ivre,” in Mythologies [Paris: Seuil, 1957]: 90-92) was acknowledged by the author himself in his correspondence, memoires, and interviews. Cited in Les Enfants du capitain Grant (319, 325, 330, 779, 857), Deux ans de vacances [The Two-Year Vacation] (preface and 42, 185, 233), Cinq semaines en ballon (142), Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (Hachette, 320), L’Ile mystérieuse (140, 250), Un Capitaine de 15 ans (Hachette, 153), and many others.
  30. Quoted in De la Terre à la Lune (226).
  31. Cited in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (59), Le Tour du monde en 80 jours (1), and Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 119).
  32. Quoted in Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (228).
  33. Cited (mistakenly) in Voyage au centre de la Terre (316), in Le Docteur Ox (21), and in Le Château des Carpathes (11).
  34. P.-J. Hetzel, “Avertissement de l’éditeur,” Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (Hachette, 8).
  35. Letter to the British publisher Sinnett, reprinted in the introduction (by Jacques Bergier) to Alexandre Dumas, Isaac Lacquédem (Paris: Bibliothèque Mondiale, 1955), 14.
  36. Isaac Laquédem (220).
  37. Isaac Laquédem (229-30).
  38. Voyage au centre de la Terre (239).
  39. Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (Hachette, 448).
  40. Cf. Edgar Allan Poe’s “MS Found in a Bottle” (1833), George Sand’s Laura, ou un voyage dans le cristal [Laura, or the Journey into the Crystal] (1864), and Edgar Rice Burrough’s Pelucidar series (1922-37), among others.
  41. Reproduced in Jacques Van Herp, Panorama de la science-fiction (Verviers, Belgique: Marabout, 1975), 100.
  42. Captain Adam Seaborn, Symzonia. NY: J. Seymour, 1820.
  43. John Cleves Symmes and James McBride, Symmes’s Theory of Concentric Spheres: demonstrating that the earth is hollow, habitable within, and widely open at the poles. Cincinnati: Morgan, Lodge & Fischer, 1826. See also John Wells Peck, “Symmes’ Theory,” Ohio Archeological and Historical Publications XVIII (1909): 28-42. For the idea that “Seaborn” is a Symmes nom de plume, see SFS 3:98-99, #8, March 1976.
  44. Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal (Paris: Garnier, 1959), 155.
  45. Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal (21).
  46. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (104).
  47. Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal (20).
  48. Notice the following (quite rare) authorial acknowledgment in Le Rayon vert, as two of the novel’s principal protagonists are being described: “Who could one better compare them to...if not these two charitable business men—so goodhearted, so devoted to each other, so affectionate—the brothers Cheeryble from the city of London, two of the most perfect characters to emerge from Dickens’ imagination!...It would be impossible to find a more just resemblance, and should I be accused of having borrowed their characterization from the pages of Nicholas Nickleby, I believe nobody will be grudge this loan” (3).
  49. Verne also occasionally errs when quoting from the works of such well-known authors. See, for example, his reference to Hoffmann in the novel Voyage au centre de la Terre: “We resembled this fantastic character of Hoffmann’s who lost his shadow.”(316). To my knowledge, Hoffmann never wrote of such a personnage (although he did, in one short story, tell of a man who had his mirror image stolen from him—a theme later developed by Offenbach in his Les Contes d’Hoffmann [The Tales of Hoffmann] in 1881). Verne was most probably thinking of a story by another German

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    author with whom he was undoubtedly familiar: Adalbert Von Chamisso, a scientist-explorer-writer who portrayed just such a fictional character in his Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte [Peter Schlemihl’s Fantastic Story] (Nurnberg: J.L. Schrag, 1814), a fable which became very popular during the Romantic era in France. One French translation of this text is of particular note in this regard—La Merveilleuse histoire de Peter Schlemihl, enrichie d’une savante préface où les curieux pourront apprendre ce que c’est que l’ombre [The Marvellous Story of Peter Schlemihl, enriched with a scholarly preface where the curious can learn what it is to lose one’s shadow](1860)—not only because of the date of its appearance in France (i.e., during Verne’s period of library research when he was accumulating interesting scientific data for his journal articles) but also because the French publishing house who marketed this particular edition was named A.G. Hoffmann! A mere coincidence? Or did Verne mistakenly attribute this tale to Hoffmann because of the French publisher’s name on the title page? [Many thanks to Drs. Edith Welliver and Darryl Gibson of DePauw University for helping me to track down these references.]
  50. Letter dated March, 1851. Reprinted in “Jules Verne: 63 Letters,” Bulletin de la Société Jules Verne 11-13 (1938): 64.
  51. Reprinted in Charles-Noël Martin, La Vie et l’oeuvre de Jules Verne (Paris: Michel de l’Ormeraie, 1978), p. 78.
  52. For example, in Une Ville flottante [A Floating City] (154), Les Indes noires (90), Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 174), Le Sphinx des glaces (246), Deux ans de vacances (preface), Le Testament d’un excentrique (Hachette, 148), and Robur-le-conquérant (Rencontre, 83) among others.
  53. Marie A. Belloc, “Jules Verne at Home,” Strand Magazine 9 (Feb. 1895): 207-213.
  54. James Fenimore Cooper, The Crater, or Vulcan’s Peak. NY: Burgess, Stringer & Co., 1847.
  55. Le Château des Carpathes (69).
  56. Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (Hachette, 16).
  57. Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (176).
  58. Belloc, “Jules Verne at Home,” (209).
  59. For example, in Cinq semaines en ballon (16), Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (21, 25, 46), Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (438), Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 119), and Une Ville flottante (154), among other novels.
  60. Le Rayon vert (195).
  61. In a letter to his publisher Hetzel, Verne confided: “I am very clumsy at expressing sentiments of love. Putting the word ‘love’ down on paper frightens me. I’m perfectly aware of my awkwardness, and I sit there squirming without getting anywhere. So, in order to get round the difficulty, I mean to be very strait-laced. You ask me to throw in a few words of feeling from time to time. Yet those words of feeling just won’t come! If they would, they would already be in.” Reprinted in Jean Jules-Verne, Jules Verne. Translated by Roger Greaves. (London: Macdonald and Jane, 1973), 74.
  62. Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (24-25).
  63. For example, see Henri Potez, “Edgar Poe et Jules Verne,” La Revue 80(1909): 191-97; C.P. Cambiare, The Influence of Edgar Allan Poe in France. NY: Stechert, 1927; Jean-Jacques Bridenne, “Jules Verne—père de la science-fiction? III. Edgar Poe et Jules Verne,” Fiction 8 (1954): 113-17; Monique Sprout, “The Influence of Poe on Jules Verne,” Revue de littérature comparée 41 (1967): 37-53; and, more generally, Roger Asselineau, Edgar Allan Poe (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1970), and Kenneth Silverman, ed. New Essays on Poe’s Major Tales (NY: Cambridge UP, 1993), among many others.
  64. Félix Tournachon (1820-1910), a.k.a. Nadar, was a celebrated photographer,

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    writer, daredevil, balloonist, and life-long friend (as well as technical advisor) to Verne. In Nadar’s honor, Verne used an anagram of his name for the protagonist Michel Ardan of De la Terre à la Lune.
  65. Reprinted in Charles Baudelaire, Curiosités esthétiques (Paris: Garnier, 1962), pp. 593-613.
  66. Marguerite Allotte de la Füye, Jules Verne, sa vie, son oeuvre (Paris: Simon Kra, 1928), p. 57.
  67. “Edgard Poë et ses oeuvres,” Musée des familles (avril 1864): 193-208.
  68. Musée des familles (juin 1863): 18.
  69. “Edgard Poë et ses oeuvres” (194).
  70. “Edgard Poë” (194).
  71. “Edgard Poë” (201).
  72. “Edgard Poë” (207-8).
  73. Brian Aldiss, Billion Year Spree (NY: Schoken, 1973), p. 95.
  74. Claudius Bombarnac (Agora, 115).
  75. Sans dessus dessous (Glénat, 31, 43, 160).
  76. See the publishing data on Verne’s later novels in Charles-Noël Martin’s La Vie et l’oeuvre de Jules Verne (Paris: Michel de l’Ormeraie, 1978), 280-81. See also Marc Soriano Jules Verne (Paris: Julliard, 1978), 308-09.
  77. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (107-8).
  78. Cf. my article entitled “The Extraordinary Libraries of Jules Verne,” L’Esprit créateur XXXVIII.1 (1988): 75-86.
  79. P.-J. Hetzel, “Avertissement de l’Editeur” [“Publisher’s Preface”] in Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (Hachette, 7).
  80. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (107).


The unique narrative recipe used by Jules Verne to create his Voyages Extraordinaires is characterized not only by repeated reference to the theories and discoveries of real scientists, geographers, historians, and explorers, but also by a wide variety of purely literary intertexts—explicit or implicit allusions to hundreds of authors and works from the “great works” of Western literature. These literary references function so as to firmly anchor Verne’s romans scientifiques to a recognizable cultural tradition, thereby broadening Verne’s own literary authoritativeness by identifying his novels more closely with those of the canonical literature(s) of his time. Verne’s intertextuality takes many forms: overt literary citations, passing authorial nods, thematic parallels, ideological biases, etc. And the sources come from many historical periods, genres, and nationalities: e.g., from Ovid and Virgil to Defoe and Dickens, and from Baudelaire and Victor Hugo to Goethe and Hoffmann. But the works of three writers, in particular, appear to have exerted a powerful influence on Verne and seem especially ubiquitous throughout the Voyage Extraordinaires: James Fenimore Cooper, Sir Walter Scott, and Edgar Allan Poe. (ABE)

Copyright © Zvi Har’El
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