Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.665460
Title: Jules Verne and the utopias of space, time and science fiction
Author: McFarthing, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 4374
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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Abstract:
This thesis seeks to cohere two strands in the work of Jules Verne, namely that of science and utopia. The role of science is of paramount importance to Verne's fictional practice in the Voyages extraordinaires, yet its elucidation, I will argue, is dependent upon aesthetic innovations that lend science a spatial and temporal structure. The spatial and temporal manifestations of science help form a 'chronotope of science' that allows Vernian protagonists to gain access to scientific phenomena using an aesthetically charged epistemology. The chronotope of science is accompanied by further motivic chronotopes, which I identify as key in the depiction of Vernian utopia and dystopia respectively. The vehicles of some of Verne's earlier and most successful novels, such as the Victoria of Cinq semaines en ballon (1863) or the Nautilus of Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1870), illustrate the ways in which Verne reconfigures ideology and history in new spatial and temporal categories. These utopian figurations will be subverted, so I argue, in the Vernian utopian community as depicted in the Voyages extraordinaires of the 1870s. Here, the utopian communities of L'Ile mysterieuse (1874) and France-Ville from Les Cinq cents millions de la Begum (1879) are subverted by a chronotopic recalibration of their utopian content, which sees the anti-utopian Le Chancellor and the Germanic Stahlstadt emerge as thematic opposites. This dystopian turn becomes more concretely established in Vernian production of the 1880s and 1890s, which sees various of Verne's earlier utopian motifs transformed into instruments of dystopia and terror, from destructive cannons to tyrannical airships. The thesis will conclude that the challenges initially met by Verne in the depiction of science and the rapidly changing industrial world of the nineteenth century led to the development of a unique aesthetic and spatio-temporal constructions that could frame not only the changing spatial environment, but also the unfolding temporal field of human history. These structures, both scientific and utopian, would help inform the generic development of science fiction, whose use of science and positing of alternative futures owes much, thematically and stylistically, to the Vernian literary aesthetic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.665460  DOI: Not available
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