Five Weeks in a Balloon (Anglais) Relié – 31 décembre 1969
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THERE was a largo audience assembled on the 14th of January, 1862, at the session of the Royal Geographical Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London. Lire la première page Parcourir les pages échantillon
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It's the story of 3 men crossing Africa (then not fully explored at the time) in a balloon (a novel method at the time). So it's basically fiction since no man had crossed that part of Africa and no one had succeed in taking a long trip in a balloon. As a result you have to take his geography and even his science in stride. It has been worked out by others that his balloon could never have made the trip and we now know that his description of that part of Africa was fanciful. So it's fiction, nevertheless it's good fiction. And we have to remember that this book was written over 100 years ago! So when I read this book, it is also an exercise in time travel for me, to read this book as it was written, in 1869, otherwise you will be offended at all the non-politically correct events that happen and the descriptions of the natives and the mind set at that time.
It's interesting to note that this book was supposed to be a forerunner to the much beloved Round the World in 80 days and I can imagine Mr. Verne testing out his ideas in this book. Jules Verne was the father of the explorer/adventure type novel and today's authors owe a lot to him. So sit back and travel back 100+ years and try this book!
The [other] publishing firm's bare-bones version of the book. There is no foreword or introduction discussing the life of Jules Verne, or the context of the times in which it was published. It simply contains the story, and nothing else. It has a good solid binding, and the print is easy to read. For some reason, they elected to put an extra line between each of the paragraphs, but this makes it even easier to read. All the extra white space also makes it a much quicker read then one would expect.
As Verne's first book, published in French in 1863, FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON is obviously a product of its time, with frequent phrasings and descriptions of African natives that would likely be pretty insulting to civil rights activists. Also, I'm sure many animal activists would be appalled at the rather brutal and uncaring attitude towards all manner of creatures. It just goes to show you how far we've come in the last 150 years.
Jules Verne's scientific aptitude is on display in this book, with relatively complex and believable descriptions of the mechanisms required for long-distance hydrogen balloon flight. Fancies such as these have led many to consider Verne to be the originator of science fiction. He was also obviously quite a history buff, with complete descriptions of previous African explorations found throughout this book.
A light and fun read, and a great example of Verne's style.
Verne has often been called the first science-fiction writer. Perhaps that description is actually quite appropriate, because much of Verne's 'science' is pretty much 'fiction'. That is certainly the case in FWIAB, which was written at a time when the average reading public's knowledge both of the interior of Africa and of ballooning were sketchy at best. There was a reason why people used to refer to interior of Africa as 'Darkest Africa' or 'The Dark Continent', and it had nothing to do with 'race'. Up until the mid 1800s few outsiders had ever been farther inland than a few miles from the coast, so that most of the continent was still a blank space on the map. At the time when Verne wrote FWIAB the newspapers were becoming filled with stories of dauntless explorers penetrating the mysteries of the 'Dark Continent', so it was a natural subject for a fantasist such as Verne. However, at the time the book was written most of the interior of the continent was still unknown, so don't expect to use FWIAB as a source for geographical accuracy. For example, Verne describes a region of arid, water-less desert a position where the Congo River actually is, not that anybody would have known the difference at the time.
Since ballooning was an equally new and exiting activity, it was a natural choice to combine the two. Needless to say, Jules Verne's grasp of ballooning was about as vague as his knowledge of the interior of Africa. Even a rudimentary knowledge of aerostatic theory reveals that the amount of lift generated by the amount of hydrogen in the balloon in FWIAB would have fallen short by about half a ton. In other words, Verne's 'Victoria' would undoubtedly have turned out to have been the original 'Lead Zeppelin'.
Technicalities notwithstanding, what the reader will find here is a charming 'flight of fancy' to strange places with three dauntless, 19th-Century British explorers. Don't look for 21st-Century sensibilities or Dostoyevskian themes and character development, because you won't ever find those things in any of the works of Jules Verne. In other words, so long as the reader doesn't expect too much, just a pleasant story about a fantastic adventure, then the reader won't be disappointed.