Around the Moon

Around the Moon


Round the Moon is a sequel to From the Earth to the Moon. This first book tells the story of the construction of a giant cannon to shoot a shell to the Moon. It is a project of the Gun Club in Baltimore, USA, that was set up by former military artill...

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Round the Moon is a sequel to From the Earth to the Moon. This first book tells the story of the construction of a giant cannon to shoot a shell to the Moon. It is a project of the Gun Club in Baltimore, USA, that was set up by former military artillery officers.

Around the Moon (French: Autour de la Lune, 1870), Jules Verne's sequel to From the Earth to the Moon, is a science fiction novel which continues the trip to the Moon which was only partially described in the previous novel. It was later combined with From the Earth to the Moon to create A Trip to the Moon and Around It. From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon served as the basis for the film A Trip to the Moon.

Jules Gabriel Verne 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright.


Verne's collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages extraordinaires, a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).


Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation was markedly different in Anglophone regions where he had often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children's books, largely because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels have often been printed (until the 1980s, when his "literary reputation ... began to improve").


Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare.He has sometimes been called the "Father of Science Fiction", a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback.


See also: Jules Verne bibliography

An 1889 Hetzel poster advertising Verne's works

Jules Verne novels: The Carpathian Castle, The Danube Pilot, Claudius Bombarnac, and Kéraban the Inflexible, on a miniature sheet of Romanian postage stamps (2005)


Verne's largest body of work is the Voyages extraordinaires series, which includes all of his novels except for the two rejected manuscripts Paris in the Twentieth Century and Backwards to Britain (published posthumously in 1994 and 1989, respectively) and for projects left unfinished at his death (many of which would be posthumously adapted or rewritten for publication by his son Michel).Verne also wrote many plays, poems, song texts, operetta libretti, and short stories, as well as a variety of essays and miscellaneous non-fiction.

Literary reception


After his debut under Hetzel, Verne was enthusiastically received in France by writers and scientists alike, with George Sand and Théophile Gautier among his earliest admirers. Several notable contemporary figures, from the geographer Vivien de Saint-Martin to the critic Jules Claretie, spoke highly of Verne and his works in critical and biographical notes.


However, Verne's growing popularity among readers and playgoers (due especially to the highly successful stage version of Around the World in Eighty Days) led to a gradual change in his literary reputation. As the novels and stage productions continued to sell, many contemporary critics felt that Verne's status as a commercially popular author meant he could only be seen as a mere genre-based storyteller, rather than a serious author worthy of academic study.


This denial of formal literary status took various forms, including dismissive criticism by such writers as Émile Zola and the lack of nomination to Verne for membership in the Académie Française, and was recognized by Verne himself, who said in a late interview: "The great regret of my life is that I have never taken any place in French literature."To Verne, who considered himself "a man of letters and an artist, living in the pursuit of the ideal", this critical dismissal on the basis of literary ideology could only be seen as the ultimate snub.


This bifurcation of Verne as a popular genre writer but a critical persona non grata continued after his death, with early biographies (including one by Verne's own niece, Marguerite Allotte de la Fuÿe) focusing on error-filled and embroidered hagiography of Verne as a popular figure rather than on Verne's actual working methods or his output. Meanwhile, sales of Verne's novels in their original unabridged versions dropped markedly even in Verne's home country, with abridged versions aimed directly at children taking their place.


However, the decades after Verne's death also saw the rise in France of the "Jules Verne cult", a steadily growing group of scholars and young writers who took Verne's works seriously as literature and willingly noted his influence on their own pioneering works. Some of the cult founded the Société Jules Verne, the first academic society for Verne scholars; many others became highly respected avant garde and surrealist literary figures in their own right. Their praise and analyses, emphasizing Verne's stylistic innovations and enduring literary themes, proved highly influential for literary studies to come.


In the 1960s and 1970s, thanks in large part to a sustained wave of serious literary study from well-known French scholars and writers, Verne's reputation skyrocketed in France. Roland Barthes' seminal essay "Nautilus et Bateau Ivre" ("The Nautilus and the Drunken Boat") was influential in its exegesis of the Voyages extraordinares as a purely literary text, while book-length studies by such figures as Marcel Moré and Jean Chesneaux considered Verne from a multitude of thematic vantage points.


French literary journals devoted entire issues to Verne and his work, with essays by such imposing literary figures as Michel Butor, Georges Borgeaud, Marcel Brion, Pierre Versins, Michel Foucault, René Barjavel, Marcel Lecomte, Francis Lacassin, and Michel Serres; meanwhile, Verne's entire published opus returned to print, with unabridged and illustrated editions of his works printed by Livre de Poche and Éditions Rencontre.   The wave reached its climax in Verne's sesquicentennial year 1978, when he was made the subject of an academic colloquium at the Centre culturel international de Cerisy-la-Salle, and Journey to the Center of the Earth was accepted for the French university system's Agrégation reading list. Since these events, Verne has been consistently recognized in Europe as a legitimate member of the French literary canon, with academic studies and new publications steadily continuing.


Verne's reputation in English-speaking countries has been considerably slower in changing. Throughout the 20th century, most Anglophone scholars dismissed Verne as a genre writer for children and a naïve proponent of science and technology (despite strong evidence to the contrary on both counts), thus finding him more interesting as a technological "prophet" or as a subject of comparison to English-language writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and H. G. Wells than as a topic of literary study in his own right. This narrow view of Verne has undoubtedly been influenced by the poor-quality English translations and very loosely adapted Hollywood film versions through which most American and British readers have discovered Verne. However, since the mid-1980s a considerable number of serious English-language studies and translations have appeared, suggesting that a rehabilitation of Verne's Anglophone reputation may currently be underway.

English translations

An early edition of the notorious Griffith & Farran adaptation of Journey to the Center of the Earth


Translation of Verne into English began in 1852, when Verne's short story "A Voyage in a Balloon" (1851) was published in the American journal Sartain's Union Magazine of Literature and Art in a translation by Anne T. Wilbur. Translation of his novels began in 1869 with William Lackland's translation of Five Weeks in a Balloon (originally published in 1863), and continued steadily throughout Verne's lifetime, with publishers and hired translators often working in great haste to rush his most lucrative titles into English-language print. Unlike Hetzel, who targeted all ages with his publishing strategies for the Voyages extraordinaires, the British and American publishers of Verne chose to market his books almost exclusively to young audiences; this business move, with its implication that Verne could be treated purely as a children's author, had a long-lasting effect on Verne's reputation in English-speaking countries.


These early English-language translations have been widely criticized for their extensive textual omissions, errors, and alterations, and are not considered adequate representations of Verne's actual novels. The British writer Adam Roberts, in an essay for The Guardian titled "Jules Verne deserves a better translation service", commented: "I'd always liked reading Jules Verne and I've read most of his novels; but it wasn't until recently that I really understood I hadn't been reading Jules Verne at all.... It's a bizarre situation for a world-famous writer to be in. Indeed, I can't think of a major writer who has been so poorly served by translation."


Similarly, the American novelist Michael Crichton observed:


    Verne's prose is lean and fast-moving in a peculiarly modern way … [but] Verne has been particularly ill-served by his English translators. At best they have provided us with clunky, choppy, tone-deaf prose. At worst—as in the notorious 1872 "translation" [of Journey to the Center of the Earth] published by Griffith & Farran—they have blithely altered the text, giving Verne's characters new names, and adding whole pages of their own invention, thus effectively obliterating the meaning and tone of Verne's original.


Since 1965, a considerable number of more accurate English translations of Verne have appeared. However, the highly criticized older translations continue to be republished, due to their public domain status and in many cases their easy availability in online sources.

Relationship with science fiction

Caricature of Verne with fantastic sea life (1884)


The relationship between Verne's Voyages extraordinaires and the literary genre science fiction is a complex one. Verne, like H. G. Wells, is frequently cited as one of the founders of the genre, and his profound influence on its development is indisputable; however, many earlier writers, such as Lucian of Samosata, Voltaire, and Mary Shelley, have also been cited as creators of science fiction, an unavoidable ambiguity arising from the vague definition and history of the genre.


A primary issue at the heart of the dispute is the question of whether Verne's works count as science fiction to begin with. Maurice Renard claimed that Verne "never wrote a single sentence of scientific-marvelous". Verne himself argued repeatedly in interviews that his novels were not meant to be read as scientific, saying "I have invented nothing". His own goal was rather to "depict the earth [and] at the same time to realize a very high ideal of beauty of style",as he pointed out in an example:


    I wrote Five Weeks in a Balloon, not as a story about ballooning, but as a story about Africa. I always was greatly interested in geography and travel, and I wanted to give a romantic description of Africa. Now, there was no means of taking my travellers through Africa otherwise than in a balloon, and that is why a balloon is introduced.… I may say that at the time I wrote the novel, as now, I had no faith in the possibility of ever steering balloons…


Closely related to Verne's science-fiction reputation is the often-repeated claim that he is a "prophet" of scientific progress, and that many of his novels involve elements of technology that were fantastic for his day but later became commonplace. These claims have a long history, especially in America, but the modern scholarly consensus is that such claims of prophecy are heavily exaggerated. In a 1961 article critical of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea's scientific accuracy, Theodore L. Thomas speculated that Verne's storytelling skill and readers misremembering a book they read as children caused people to "remember things from it that are not there. The impression that the novel contains valid scientific prediction seems to grow as the years roll by". As with science fiction, Verne himself flatly denied that he was a futuristic prophet, saying that any connection between scientific developments and his work was "mere coincidence" and attributing his indisputable scientific accuracy to his extensive research: "even before I began writing stories, I always took numerous notes out of every book, newspaper, magazine, or scientific report that I came across.



By Nick Lomb


I have recently read this book by Jules Verne and was struck by the number of uncanny similarities between this imaginary voyage that Verne describes as happening in the 1860s and the first lunar circling mission of Apollo 8 made a century later. What is also fascinating is to see how impossibly difficult such a voyage would have been at that early date without the benefit of the electronics and radio communications that were available to the Apollo 8 astronauts. As well, part of the fun of reading this book is to see what parts of the science of a lunar mission Verne gets right and what he gets wrong.


Round the Moon is a sequel to From the Earth to the Moon. This first book tells the story of the construction of a giant cannon to shoot a shell to the Moon. It is a project of the Gun Club in Baltimore, USA, that was set up by former military artillery officers. With the advent of peace after the American Civil War of 1861-1865 these officers were getting bored and their president thought that they needed a major project to boost their spirits.


The 274-m long cannon was set up in Florida to shoot the projectile at the Moon. Initially, the 2.7-metre wide projectile was to be unmanned but a French adventurer arrives and insists on riding inside the capsule and persuades the president of the Gun Club and his chief critic to join him.


Round the Moon begins just after the projectile had been fired. The three occupants survive, of course, in the book. Should they have? According to my calculations to reach the target velocity of11 km/s,     the Earth’s escape velocity, in the 274-metres long gun barrel, they must have traversed it in0.05 seconds and experienced an acceleration of 22 500g! For comparison, the highest accelerations that humans are known to have survived have been the 100-200g experienced by racing car drivers involved in crashes.


Leaving the miraculous survival of the three pseudo-astronauts aside, during the journey there is a lot of fun conversations and interesting speculations about the possibilities for an atmosphere and inhabitants on the Moon. The travellers miss the Moon as on the way they happen to have an encounter with an unknown satellite of the Earth that deflects the spacecraft into an orbit around the Moon. Fortuitously, but just a little implausibly, a later encounter with a giant asteroid deflects them on a path back towards the Earth. Very cleverly, Verne has them travelling at full Moon, so that when they are flying over the unseen side of the Moon it is unlit by the Sun and so the travellers can see nothing of the then unknown surface.


Some of the science in the book seems be correct, but there are quite a few errors. The travellers still experience the Earth’s gravitational pull as they fly away from the planet with just the normal diminution by the square of the distance. The only time they find themselves in zero gravity is when they reach the point where the gravitational forces of the Earth and the Moon are in balance (the L1 point) and afterwards they feel the Moon’s attraction. Of course, a spacecraft moving along an orbital trajectory is basically in free fall and so the environment should have zero g, or more correctly, microgravity.


The book is most enjoyable to read with lots of banter between the three travellers and interesting descriptions of what the surface of the Moon facing Earth would look like when viewed from close-up. For a modern reader though the best part is to find the parallels to the Apollo flights a century later, especially that of Apollo 8 that first looped around the Moon, and to consider the science given in the book to see what is right and wrong. I have mentioned a few problems that I have found in this review, but there are others. For instance, check out the discussion of what a lunar eclipse may look like from the Moon.


For me, possibly the most important aspect is how Round the Moon highlights that until the right technology comes along, such as rockets, electronics and wireless communication in this case, many projects are impracticable and can only be achieved in the imaginative mind of a clever writer of fiction.

The book is suitable for 10 years old and up


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