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The Twentieth Century
Albert Robida; Philippe Willems, trans.; Arthur B. Evans, ed.; Philippe Willems, intro.

Early Classics of Science Fiction

2004 • 434 pp. 284 illus. French flap cover. 7 x 10"
Science Fiction / Fiction Classics / Literary Criticism - French

$34.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6680-5

Although largely forgotten now, the French writer Albert Robida was a pioneer of science fiction. ...(H)is 1882 roman d’anticipation The Twentieth Century (is) a... [continued in Reviews below]”—Joshua Glenn, Boston Sunday Globe

Humorous, illustrated novel by the “father of science fiction illustration”.

The Twentieth Century—a unique blend of objets d’art and pulp fiction, science fiction and satire—was initially published in 1882 to great acclaim. Abundantly illustrated by the author, the story presents a panorama of society in the century to come. The story opens in the spring of 1952 as Hélène Colobry, niece of mega-banker Raphael Ponto, has just graduated from a private provincial school and needs to find a career. This highly original futuristic fantasy is a cross between “The Jetsons” and the novels of Charles Dickens: it focuses on the daily life of a bourgeois family living in the technology-driven world of tomorrow—where trips to the market are made by aircar and where women argue politics with their husbands via videophone. The book opened new frontiers in speculative fiction with its superb graphics and its evocative text.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Although largely forgotten now, the French writer Albert Robida was a pioneer of science fiction. ...(H)is 1882 roman d’anticipation The Twentieth Century (is) a funny, sometimes cynical, frequently prophetic soap opera about a young woman who embarks upon a career search in the future worlds of 1952, gets caught up in a revolutionary struggle, and winds up having a brand-new continent named after her....”—Joshua Glenn, Boston Sunday Globe

“The Twentieth Century is the literary equivalent of discovering King Tut’s tomb and marveling that such wonderful things were there for all these years but concealed. Wesleyan’s edition will allow us to see at last one of France’s hidden treasures.” —Paul Alkon, Professor of English, University of Southern California

“Robida's funny and surreal drawings are well known: now at last we have the story to go with them. The climax, where a sixth continent is created in the Pacific…reaches heights of glorious absurdity!”Brian Aldiss, author of Billion Year Spree

ALBERT ROBIDA (1848-1926) was a prolific and celebrated French artist and writer. His books include La Guerre au Vingtième Siècle (1887, War in the Twentieth Century) and La Vie Électrique (1892, The Electric Life). PHILIPPE WILLEMS is currently Assistant Professor of French at Northern Illinois University-DeKalb. ARTHUR B. EVANS is Professor of French in the Modern Languages Department at DePauw University and editor of Science Fiction Studies.

Sat, 2 Dec 2017 11:55:50 -0500