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Paris AD 1960: A World of Cold Marvels,
This review is from: Paris in the Twentieth Century: Jules Verne, The Lost Novel (Paperback)
The story of the discovery of Jules Verne's novel PARIS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY is the stuff of fantasy: The 1863 unpublished manuscript was discovered lying in a safe some 130 years later.
It tells the tale of one Michel Dufrenoy, winner of a prize in poetry at a time when poetry, indeed literature, means nothing. Thousands of books are still published, but they are all engineering and scientific works with sesquipedalian titles. The real hero, however, is the city of Paris circa 1960: a city of engineering marvels with such devices as elevators, fax machines, underground trains, and gas-powered cabs. (Curiously, this future world also contains quill pens and giant accounting ledger books with scaffolding.)
Verne's vision of the future is endlessly fascinating, especially as so many of his predictions have come true. Where the young Verne faltered, however, is his failure to display the rambunctious 19th century optimism of his later works. Instead of a triumphant tone, we have a world in which the individual who refuses to be a cog in the great works of society becomes marginalized and ultimately crushed. PARIS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY is a young writer's experiment that was rejected by publishers of the day, ostensibly because its vision was too far-fetched (it isn't), but oddly not because it was pervaded with a feeling of doom (which it certainly is).
The book makes interesting reading for its insights, but fails as a story. The hero and his struggling friends are sadly short-changed.