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The Begum's Fortune
The Begum's Fortune (French: Les Cinq cents millions de la Bégum), also published as The Begum's Millions, is an 1879 novel by Jules Verne, with some utopian elements and other elements that seem clearly dystopian. It is noteworthy as the first published book in which Verne was cautionary, and somewhat pessimistic about the development of science and technology.
Long after The Begum's Fortune was published, it came out that its story is based on a manuscript by Paschal Grousset, a Corsican revolutionary who had participated in the Paris Commune and was at the time living in exile in the United States and London. It was bought by Pierre-Jules Hetzel, the publisher of most of Verne's books. The attribution of plot elements between Grousset's original text and Verne's work on it has not been completely defined. Later, Verne worked similarly on two more books by Grousset and published them under his name, before the revolutionary finally got a pardon and was able to return to France and resume publication in his own name.
The book first appeared in a hasty and poorly done English translation soon after its publication in French—one of the bad translations considered to have damaged Verne's reputation in the English-speaking world. W. H. G. Kingston was near death and deeply in debt at the time. His wife, Mrs. A. K. Kingston, who did the translation for him, was certainly otherwise preoccupied than with the accuracy of the text and may have had to rely on outside help. in 2005 a new translation from the French was made by Stanford Luce and published by Wesleyan University.
I. O. Evans, in his introduction to his "Fitzroy Edition" of The Begum's Fortune, suggested a connection between the creation of artificial satellites in this novel and the publication of The Brick Moon by Edward Everett Hale in 1869.
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