The Five Hundred Millions of the Begum; The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China; The Giant Raft: Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon

The Five Hundred Millions of the Begum; The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China; The Giant Raft: Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon

Read FREE!

The Five Hundred Millions of the Begum; The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China; The Giant Raft: Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon

The Five Hundred Millions of the Begum; The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China; The Giant Raft: Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon

Read FREE!

Excerpt

"The Five Hundred Millions of the Begun", published in 1879, is an interesting tale in itself, and in its fancy of the different uses to which untold wealth might be put in the hands of different men.

The moral lesson is also strong. Riches are shown as meaning to the world in general only selfishness and self- indulgence. To the two men who possess the millions, they become, in the hands of one, merely an instrument for gathering more millions. To the other, the altruist, they open a means of uplifting the entire world. Thus we get on the one side Verne's view of a modern Utopia; on the other, his idea of the inferno whither he believes modern centralization of capital and industry are tending. This is the only one of Verne's works in which he turns political economist.

This antagonism, thus drawn between two views of society, the two cities erected by the rivals, is made doubly interesting by the racial bitterness to which in this book Verne for the first time gives vehement expression. It must be remembered that his books, especially with his method of frequently rewriting them, were usually begun several years before the date of their publication. At the close of the war of 1870-71, France lay prostrate and helpless beneath the heel of Germany. Hence Germans, and back of them the whole Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon race, were anathema to this patriotic Frenchman. In "Off on a Comet" he had for the first time chosen a French hero. Hector Servadac is made governor-general of the comet, which is itself called Gallia. Before that, the Frenchmen of his books had all been light and whimsical: Ardan the heedless in the "Trip to the Moon," Paganel the astound . . .

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