“Despite what people still say, and contrary to recent ideas, women have always been the main heroes of the Voyages and their key (?)” (Michel Serres, Jouvences sur Jules Verne,1974).
Young, loving, romantic girls, heroic patriots, enterprising and adventurous women, dominant wives, cunning and ruthless spies, fantastical ghost-women... These heroines of modernity seize the opportunities of the bustling zeitgeist and manage to live at a distance from the rigid, hierarchical and hypocritical society often described in 19th century novels that reduce women to second-class citizens. Bold and determined, displaying an unquenchable thirst for learning, these courageous, intelligent, intuitive and selfless women shake up the ruling bourgeois mentality of the time and set off on adventures across the world. They play a genuine role – one that is physical, loving, social, ethical or political. Often acting as motivators for men, they oppose the cold principles of reason and duty with the power of feelings and emotions. Without them, without their rich and nuanced personalities, Jules Verne's novels would have lacked the emotional dimension that humanizes the mechanical element and spirit of geographical and scientific conquest of the otherwise masculine Voyages extraordinaires.
Two contemporary works that were inspired by Verne and recently made part of the itinerary through the museum: Jules et la mécanique des souvenirs, a film by Catherine Verhelst and Hervé Tougeron, based on Verne’s The Story of My Boyhood; and Le Sélénite, a video by Jean Bonichon.
© Frank Pellois