Essentials

Note the plural.

I’ve been thinking more about The Essential Question and fear I may have made another Gibbonesque mistake and judged Jules Verne unfairly. In my historiography tutorial at Oxford, I made the catastrophic error of telling my tutor that Gibbon was an imperialist. I know–bad idea. I still wince at the memory, and he even mentioned it on my transcript, so I’m pretty certain that’s what cost me my A in that course. But I digress. I have this odd bias against Victorians, and it’s been a conscious effort to be more even handed with my forays into that century. [I suppose I should state it now: my literary isms of choice are New Historicist, Post-colonial, and mythological. I did Gender Criticism for a while, but it’s time to move on.]

I personally would categorize Jules Verne more as a fantastic, travel adventure writer, closer to Gulliver’s Travels. This is especially the case when you consider that his two other main works are Around the World in Eighty Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which could also be read as travel narratives. Because of his extended use of geological science in Journey, people tend to classify him as SF. At the present, I can’t recall how much science was used in these works, it’s been awhile since I’ve read either.

So I guess I want to acknowledge the possible argument that he could be the precursor to Hard SF, whereas his contemporaries, Shelly, Wells, & Co., were mainly Soft SF. Perhaps, Kelly, instead of removing him completely, move him down to the Honorable Mentions that you’ve started.

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