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Prof. Arthur Evans Quoted in Chronicle of Higher Education

December 17, 2001

December 17, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - Arthur B. Evans, professor of modern languages and University Professor at DePauw, is quoted in an article in the December 21, 2001 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, "Lost Worlds of Science Fiction; Scholars unearth the prehistory of a genre."

The story by Scott McLemee, in the Chronicle's research section, points out that two new translations of Jules Verne's 1874 work The Mysterious Island will be published next month, including one that is edited by Evans. McLemee summarizes Verne's book as a "saga of Civil War-era Americans who rebuild civilization on an uncharted desert island" and states that it "seems tailor-made for an audience drawn to Survivor and Cast Away. But the coincidence may point to a literary revival that extends beyond Verne himself. 'In a period of accelerated change, people may be looking back, at a subconscious level, to stories about inventions that were a lot less complicated,' says Arthur B. Evans, an editor of the journal Science Fiction Studies who is a professor of French at DePauw University. 'Verne's portrayal of technology is always on a human scale. His machines are also aesthetic objects. They are artistically rendered, in a way that electronic circuits usually aren't.'

Dr. Evans, who wrote the book Jules Verne Rediscovered: Didacticism and the Scientific Novel (Contributions to the Study of World Literature), is editor of the new Wesleyan Early Classics of Science Fiction Series, which will include The Mysterious Island. McLemee writes, "Wesleyan's new series reflects an unapologetically academic interest in the genre's past. Each volume will be edited by a prominent scholar in the field, who will write a long critical introduction to the work." He continues, "Titles forthcoming in the Wesleyan series were first published between the middle of the 18th century and the first two decades of the 20th. After about 1920, (Evans) says, the genre 'split into two different traditions according to how it was marketed -- on the one hand, a juvenile 'mass-market' tradition, and on the other, a higher-brow 'literary' tradition.' (Edgar Rice Burroughs would belong to the former tradition, while William Burroughs, whose postmodernist fiction also includes aliens from Venus, would belong to the latter.) The Wesleyan series will focus on the prehistory of the genre, before that split."

The Chronicle story is available in its entirety and free of charge online, by clicking here.

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

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