Esperanto and Science Fiction: Jules Verne

© David Poulson

"...we are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne. His name never stops. At Aerospace or NASA gatherings Verne is the verb that moves us to Space.

He was born in the future we inhabit as our present. Once born, he ricocheted back to the 19th century to dream our dreams and to realise his possible improbabilities...

Without Verne there is a strong possibility we would never have romanced ourselves to the Moon. His immortal dust should be divided in separate and equal parts to be lodged in that first footprint on the Moon and tossed to the winds that blow across that great Martian ravine that can hide our continental United States and swallow our imagination."
(Ray Bradbury)

In 1993, editor of the journal Esperanto was Istvan Ertl, who was well known by that time to readers of Esperanto journals because he had previously edited Kontakto, La Internacia Pedagogio Revuo, and Opus Nigrum. You can find a small selection of his articles at this URL: )

In the November issue (no. 1053) Ertl wrote an interesting and informative article about Jules Verne which was prompted by the publication, earlier in 1993, of a collection of some previously unpublished manuscripts of Verne. That collection included about 50 pages of a novel which, unfortunately, Jules Verne never finished. At least, not in the form in which he left it. I will have more to say about this unpublished fragment later, but first I'll give some background information about Verne's connection to the Esperanto movement.

Ertl recalled that the November-December issue of the journal Franca Esperantisto included an article written by Marcel Delcourt and Jean Amouroux entitled "Jules Verne kaj la Internacia Lingvo." Thanks to the researches of these writers, wrote Ertl, "we know that Verne was well acquainted with the international language question because one of his friends, Raoul Duval, was an enthusiastic supporter of Volapuk."

(For more information about Volapuk, an earlier and unsuccessful attempt to create an acceptable international language, and about some other planned languages, read the second chapter of Don Harlow's book, which is available in digital format here:

In 1903, therefore, when Theophile Cart gave a lecture about Esperanto in Amiens, where Verne had lived for many years, and inspired his audience to form a local Esperanto society, Jules Verne agreed to be its first honorary president. (The unusual house shown in the picture is where Verne lived.)


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Here's the follow-up discussion on this article: View all related messages

2.   Oct 31, 1999 9:54 PM
If you feel like re-reading some of the old favourites, Brian, you may be interested to know that I have just received a parcel of books, very kindly sent by Professor William Butcher, who is currentl ...

-- posted by David_Poulson

1.   Oct 29, 1999 12:27 PM
Great article.

Being an avid science fiction fan I know the name well but this adds an interesting new dimension to the man.

Hmmm... science fiction and Esperanto... maybe the language will take ...

-- posted by Brian_Hughes

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