Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Prone to exaggeration.
Monday 10th June - Amiens

From time to time I will admit, I have been quite fairly accused of, if not making things up, then perhaps taking liberties with the actual statistics in order to effect a certain emphasis, as though that is some sort of bad thing.  When other people do that they are sometimes hailed as visionaries, indeed some of them are.

Take Jules Verne’s for instance.  If he had actually been twenty thousand leagues under the sea technically he’d be through the other side of the planet and a third of the way to the moon. Presumably he persevered with that number because a league is a curious measure of distance over time, a curious indeterminate.  He is of course best known in the English speaking world at least for making up lots of unbelievable stuff which over the course of the following century would become part of our lives.  If you had read his novels a century or so ago you would not have been aware that electric submarines, skywriting, helicopters, stun guns, news broadcasts, solar sails and much more were already on their way as indeed were helicopters and even floating cities, although we now call them cruise ships.  Truth has become stranger than science fiction.

We dropped in to his house today but he wasn’t home.  Presumably he’s off time travelling at the moment, so we poked around among some of his things for a bit, and promised ourselves we’d reacquaint ourselves with his tales next time we have a rainy day.  Tomorrow.


Joan Elizabeth said...

Have you actually read it? I am told it is rather a tedious read so have avoided thus far. Lovely photo.

bitingmidge said...

@Joan - Verne was prolific and not just in Science Fiction, but the English translations were apparently mostly aimed at a children's audience. I suspect direct translations from the French manuscript could indeed be a little tedious, I'll let you know!

I am intrigued to see how the "jokes"translated though I suspect they didn't. Science was deliberately bent in the name of fiction, so while a "league" is generally held to be about 5km it was actually a bit more complicated - the distance a man can walk in one hour. So 20,000 leagues could be 100,000 kilometres..... or... how far can one walk in an hour under the sea?

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