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Dalhousie French Studies






[First Paragraph] In his famous interview with the American journalist Robert H. Sherard in 1894, Jules Verne, nearing the end of his life, regretted not being able to see America one last time. "I should have liked to have gone to Chicago this year," he lamented, "but in the state of my health [...] it was quite impossible. I do so love America and the American," he continued, "As you are writing for America, be sure to tell them that if they love me- as I know they do, for I receive thousands of letters every year from the States- I return their affection with all my heart. Oh, if I could only go and see them all, it would be the great joy of my life!" (Sherard 7). Indeed, the mutual affection between the United States and Verne's works has been so strong that Verne is often even erroneously considered an American writer by many Americans. As Jean Chesneaux has observed, it is not surprising that "twenty-three out of a total of sixty four novels take place in part or entirely on American soil, and that important roles are given to American characters" as, initially at least, in the mid nineteenth century "it was the United States which came the closest to the 'model of progress' that Jules Verne envisioned for humanity" (Chesnaux, Yale French Studies, 112). "[Verne] saw America as the frontier linking the known and unknown world," Chesneaux explains. "The United States was very much a part of the contemporary political scene and the Civil War, in particular, had made a deep impression [on him]. But at the same time, this country, in the throes of rapid demographic, technical, and economic change, with few real ties to the past, had already become a major futuristic theme" (111-112).


Posted with the permission of the editor.

Original Publication Citation

Schulman, P. (2006). Jules Verne's very far west: America as testing ground in Les 500 millions de la Bégum. Dalhousie French Studies, 76, 63-71.