The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Acacia O’Connor on Paolo Mantegazza’s The Year 3000: A Dream, translated from the Italian by David Jacobson and published by the University of Nebraska Press.
Acacia O’Connor is one of the first group of students to enroll in the University of Rochester’s Master of Arts in Literary Translation program. She came here by way of a year in Italy, and also worked for a time at the Association of American Publishers. I’m sure this is the first of several reviews she’ll be writing for us . . . (I love when new groups of interns start working with the press. They’re all so interesting with such diverse interests, and they’re so earnest! So eager to learn and help out! So much different than all the jaded people working in the publishing industry.)
Anyway, this novel—a work of science-fiction originally published in 1897—sounds both dry and intriguing:
Have you ever seen renderings or book covers from the 1800s in which the artist attempts to envision and portray a future world? They always seem quaint compared to the contemporary world as it has been realized—proof that we are so limited in imagining the unknown that it will always take on shades of what we have in front of us today. Early science fiction is the same way, as we see in Paolo Mantegazza’s The Year 3000: A Dream translated in its entirety into English for the first time by Nicoletta Pireddu.
Mantegazza’s thirty-first century couple, Paolo and Maria, is making a global trek to obtain a marriage license and the right to “transmit life to future generations.” In one of their last stops in Andropolis, the global capitol, the pair go to the museum of natural history, which houses samples of all life forms as well as “possible people.” These “possible people” are scientist’s renderings of alien beings, and Paolo finds them hilarious:
“Oh, my dear Maria, how comical these planetary angels are, how grotesque, above all, how impossible! . . . We can imagine only anthropomorphic forms, and so, just as the ancient founders of theogonies could fashion their gods only by clothing them in human skin, so these odd creators of supermen were unable to go beyond the human and the animal world.”
Click here to read the full review.
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