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Paris: Edite par W. Coquebert, n.d. [1846].. Small quarto, pp. [1-4] 1-324, engraved illustrations by Bertall, O. Penguilly and St.-Germain, ten on inserted plates, numerous others in the text, original decorated cloth, front and rear panels stamped in blind and gold, spine panel stamped in gold, marbled endpapers. First edition. Versins calls this the first detailed forecast of the future (aside perhaps from Webb's THE MUMMY, 1827) to explore the malignant repercussions of advancing technology. With its extravagant and grotesque illustrations, it makes a fitting bookend to Robida's LA VINGTIEME SIECLE (1883), steam versus electricity, to bracket the first flowering of French dystopian literature, serving as a model, despite its faults, of all the futuristic nightmares that followed, even into the twentieth century (Versins, pp. 822-824). Souvestre projects Marthe and Maurice, his observers from the present day, into the year 3000 and sets them down in Tahiti, where scantily-clad people live in a machine-ridden age. Pipes dispense not only water in homes but fire, light and fresh air. An endless roll of newsprint displays the breaking news of the hour (sound like the Internet?). The very clouds are mined for water and electricity. Infants are handed over to steam-operated feeding machines before being classified by phrenologists and assigned a purpose in life corresponding to their physiognomy. They are then moved to greenhouses where the correct degree of heat ensures the maturation of their brains. All learning is based on the memorization of mnemonic devices. Criminals are either given very lenient or very severe treatment, the latter sent to solitary confinement until they have devolved into complete stupefaction. The technology of 3000 is dominated by steam (including steam-powered shoes) and balloons. Fanciful flying machines present some of the most charming images. Versins credits the little-known Charles Nodier's 1833 compositions, HURLUBLEU and LEVIATHAN-LE-LONG as influences on Souvestre. Versins, Encyclop├ędie de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires, et de la Science Fiction, pp. 822-24. Cloth worn at edges, splits to cloth along outer joints repaired, considerable foxing throughout (regrettably common to this book), a sound, good copy. (#153226)
      [Bookseller: L. W. Currey, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2017-06-22           Check availability:      IOBABooks    


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