Looking forward, looking back

So I’m done with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. As I said in a previous post, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. One of the first things I realized, however, was that this book was not really written with a young adult audience in mind. It is too heavy on the science aspect of things for that, and in a really twisted kind of way that is probably what led to the popularity of Mr. Mecier’s dreadful translation: it was not just a dreadful translation, it was also a deliberate dumbing down of the book in an attempt to suit someone’s idea of who the book’s target audience was supposed to be. I guess in a way this is similar to the way in which animated features usually get –or rather used to get– an almost automatic G  or PG rating.

The thing is that this book led me to realize that in order to understand the conventions of science fiction I needed a better understanding of the genre’s history as a whole, so now I am in the midst of a short exploration of proto science fiction. Seeing how I went over several H.G. Wells novels in the past six months, I am going to be skipping him altogether this time a round, but I just finished reading Jack London’s Star Rover (or The Jacket) and The Scarlet Plague, now I’m going over the Professor Challenger stories and then I’m going to use the first of these, The Lost World, as a starting point for a small cinematographic detour through the way in which dinosaurs have been portrayed on screen in the past hundred years or so. That in turn should bring me back to the present, or close to it, via Crichton’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World.

I realize that I should probably throw a couple more Verne novels into the mix here, but after the nasty shock I received when I first approached Twenty Thousand Leagues, and knowing that I can’t always count on translators being kind enough to make such a glaring error in something that shows up in the TOC, I’ve decided to read those in French… and before I can do that I have to figure out a way to get over my fear of the language (in other words, Asterix here I come… yeah, right, like I needed an excuse).

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