Free English Essay


Free English Essay

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Free English Essay Sample

The chief phenomenon is Jules Verne, whose long list of scientific romances sprang from a serious effort to anticipate the technological applications of the sciences currently in full development. Submarines, airships of several patterns, countless mechanical devices, are suggested and utilized in his novels, in such profusion that these books in turn are known to have influenced the scientific vocations of many young men, among them Simon Lake and Georges Claude, and the navigators Charcot and Bernard Franck. As do most of his contemporaries, Verne writes in positivist terms; the fantastic element is only apparent, a more advanced engineering, using the principles and tools of his own day rather than the marvellous and irrational inventions of a Cyrano de Bergerac. But neither the society nor the technology anticipated by his creative writing corresponds to the world as we know it today; for all its inventive fertility, its technological ferment, Verne's mind could not foresee such an innovation as the internal combustion motor, or imagine such problems as those imposed on the aviator by weather and atmospheric conditions. Twentieth-century science is stranger than nineteenth-century fiction; Verne remains well within the bounds of scientific possibilities, and no longer surprises his readers with his extrapolations.

Paradoxically enough, it is this very restraint that has prevented Verne from becoming recognized as a serious literary figure. Reticence may be a scientific virtue, it is not always a literary one, and a generation that delighted in highly seasoned literature relegated Verne's books to the popular and schoolboy level, with disastrous results as far as his style and general literary quality were concerned. Science penetrates literature by becoming literary, less pedantically technical, more attentive to the broader implications, and less insistent on the scrupulosities of laboratory techniques. Biological determinism in the Zola manner ends by being dull; the hypothesis precludes effective dramatic struggle, and the full use of creative imagination. The fine balance the effective novelist must maintain between an increasing understanding of the conditions that govern the phenomena of living, and the part played, per contra, by unpredictable individual impulse, is essentially the source of dramatic conflict, and the human basis of all interest in literature. From this point of view, science, as used by most conventional authors, even by the professed naturalists, is merely an extension of "common sense," the general knowledge, or in some cases the mental and moral philosophy, of an earlier generation.

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