JULES VERNE, French author died (b. 1828); A French author who pioneered the science-fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).
Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated author in the world, according to Index Translationum. Some of his books have been made into films. Verne, along with H.G. Wells, is often popularly referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”.
Some historians and literary critics have theorized certain pederastic elements in the life and work of Verne. Jean Paulhan describes two main themes identified in Verne’s work. First, that “in life we must, little by little, substitute in place of our natural father an older and better man than ourselves,” and later that we will need likewise to substitute, in place of our wife, a male friend worthy of esteem and admiration.
The second theme is that “the entire opus of Jules Verne has, as its purpose and secret, pederasty.” His theme is picked up by a later work, that of Marc Soriano, who sees elements of “latent homosexuality, sublimated pederasty, misogyny” in Verne’s writings.
Verne’s close and lasting friendship with Aristide Briand, whom he met in Nantes in 1876 when the young man was a fifteen-year old lycéen and schoolmate of his son Michel, is also cited as a possible example of his attraction to youths. He frequently picked up Briand from the lycée and brought him to his house, and also used him as a character in A Long Vacation.
Michel Larivière, in his Homosexuels et bisexuels célèbres posits a quasi-universal theme in the novels of “an older and more experienced man who offers support and affection to a young and very handsome boy.” Examples of such pairs are Lord Glevanan with the young Robert Grant, in The Children of Captain Grant, the dashing Pencroft with the fifteen-year old Herbert Brown, the “brave boy” whom he “loved as if he had been his own child,” in The Mysterious Island,and Kaw-djer and Halg in The Survivors of the ‘Jonathan,’ of whose love he writes:
Halg was the only one able to move this disaffected man, who knew no love other than the one he felt for a child… Is it because they have some dim notion of this disproportion that, despite its resplendent beauty, such an emotion astonishes more than it charms other men, and seems inhuman to them, even though it is above them?”
Another indication of Verne’s pederastic or possible homosexual leanings has been suggested in his purported lack of tolerance for women, who are largely absent from his works, or reduced to insignificance, or subjected to a ferocious misogyny.
Likewise, the incident of the attack by his nephew, with whom he had entertained a long term and affectionate relationship, and which was hushed up by the local press, is held to be indicative of either a sexual relationship gone bad, or else an attack of jealousy at the arrival of a new love interest. In a recent biography, his translator, William Butcher, in presenting evidence for Verne’s homosexual leanings, also cites the fact that he only fathered one child, spent large periods of his life and both major journeys in the company of his close friend, the composer Aristide Hignard who was probably homosexual himself, and spiced up his letters to Hetzel with double-entendres about oral sex.