Histoire comique des états et empires de la luna

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Cyrano de Bergerac, Savinien. Histoire comique des états et empires de la luna. Paris: Le Bret, 1657. Also Histoire comique des états et empires du soleil. Paris: Charles de Sercy, 1662. ("Lively Stories of the Empires of Moon and Sun" vt. A Voyage to the Moon) Combined volumes translated as Other Worlds. Geoffrey Strachan. New York: Oxford UP, 1965.


"As fast-paced yarns combining cosmic travel, libertin philosophizing, and a host of technological marvels, Cyrano's works are perhaps France's first true SF novels" (Arthur B. Evans, "Science Fiction in France . . . ," SFS 16.3 [Nov. 1989]: 268-69 [citations], 255 [for the quoted sentence]).

On a post on the SFRA ListServ, 30 June 2021, Johan Jönsson noted, "In Cyrano de Bergerac's A Voyage to the Moon, the inhabitants of the Moon have something akin to audiobooks, keeping them constant company and adding to their immense learning." Jönsson quotes from the Archibald Lovell translation (1899), chapter 15 on Project Gutenberg, linked here (deletions ours).[1]

"As I opened the Box, I found within somewhat of Metal, almost like to our Clocks, full of I know not what little Springs and imperceptible Engines: It was a Book, indeed; but a Strange and Wonderful Book, that had neither Leaves nor Letters: In fine, it was a Book made wholly for the Ears, and not the Eyes. So that when any Body has a mind to read in it, he winds up that Machine with a great many Strings; then he turns the Hand to the Chapter which he desires to hear, and straight, as from the Mouth of a Man, or a Musical Instrument, proceed all the distinct and different Sounds, which the Lunar Grandees make use of for expressing their Thoughts, instead of Language.

When I since reflected on this Miraculous Invention, I no longer wondred that the Young—Men of that Country were more knowing at Sixteen or Eighteen years Old, than the Gray-Beards of our Climate; for knowing how to Read as soon as Speak, they are never without Lectures [...]; they may have in their Pockets, or at their Girdles, Thirty of these Books [...]; so that you never want the Company of all the great Men, living and Dead, who entertain you with Living Voices."


RDE, initial, and RDE finishing, with thanks to Johan Jönsson, 6Jul21