Like his father William Rathbone Greg, the author was actively involved in the Victorian debate on oligarchy, eugenics and evolutionism. A prolific novelist and a poet, Percy Greg aims to express «a truth of profound significance for all mankind» through a realistic mode of narration. However, beyond its stereotypical didacticism, the text essentially contributes to create the archetype of the journey to the planet within accessible distance from the Earth. Until recently the topos of Mars has fascinated science fiction writers such as Ray Bradbury and his Martian Chronicles. Firstly, science applied to the construction of the spacecraft is thoroughly developed in the long beginning chapters; secondly, the amazing space-montage effects highlight the ever-changing point of view of the traveller-observer whose vision focuses on the morphological features of the new land. On the one hand, the story draws classical motifs from travel literature such as the comparison between the space explorer’s vision of “an island in the midst of the principal ocean” and Columbus’ discovery; on the other hand, the detailed description provides the fictional pattern of science-fiction space travels: purported scientific principles, cumulative details and mathematical data will be exploited by H.G. Wells, while the theme of Mars as a threatening planet will be developed in The War of the Worlds (1897). Aspects of racism and colonialism emerge when the traveller classifies the extra-terrestrial Other on a racial basis and tries to captivate the very first one he encounters by offering him a gift; Eveena looks like a perfect descendant from the finest races of Europe; Mars is a land to be explored and conquered according to an imperialist logic. Greg’s conservatism supports monarchy and capital while attacking communism, doomed to civil war, and untenable democracy As for the «Woman Question,» he seems to sympathize with the reaction to female discrimination enacted by the movements for emancipation rising during the second half of the 19th century: the base utilitarianism of Victorian marriage is fore-grounded in the Martian presentation ceremony; the right of divorce is criticized as a double-edged legal measure paradoxically dispossessing women of their only recognized status. Nevertheless, female psycho-physical inferiority needs masculinity and its gifts of proficiency, endurance and high morality. His attitude of role reformer thus clashes with his patriarchal conceptions of the «inviolable weakness of sex.» The debate on the scope of epistemological research on atheistic, anti-humanistic Mars thematizes the 19th-century dispute over scientific agnosticism aroused by T.H. Huxley. Greg’s attempts to fit Nature into the utopian paradigm of order and transparency include Mars’ sanitary engineering and the erection of a great observatory on an artificially extinct volcano; old age is subsumed within «death as efflux of time,» epidemic diseases are eradicated and euthanasia is practised to imperfect creatures. Still, Esmo’s adoption of a disabled child shows man’s attempt to cope with human deficiencies, a challenge endlessly presented to an ideal perfection. However, Greg reflects the growing late-Victorian ambivalence to scientism and its epistemological creed: the scientific exploitation of natural resources enhances technological progress but does not secure a fuller understanding of the human vital impulse. Although the progress of knowledge in the fields of logic, biology and physics claims disengagement from religion or spirituality, the search for the innermost in human nature challenges a positivist, empiricist approach. Natural laws, inferences from facts and logical deductions are disrupted by «the belief in an after-world where the soul, free from its body, leads the human being to fulfilment,» soothing fears of annihilation and oblivion. The Star’s utopian message is twofold: the principle of man’s transcendence of death through the soul is linked to the belief that occult powers such as mesmerism, telepathy or prophecy lie deeply embedded in human nature and can be enacted to create a connection with the supernatural. The core of the gnoseological utopian journey is the psychic experience of the world, both physical and metaphysical; leaning across the threshold of consciousness, man explores the passing zone between assumed objectivity and perception, spirit and matter. The late 19th century focus on the subconscious – the limen – emphasizes the emergence of powerful cognitive faculties beyond rationality: the interplay of multiple layers of consciousness is explored by parapsychology and will be investigated by Freudian psychoanalytical theories.

Across the Zodiac (1880)

SPINOZZI, Paola
2000

Abstract

Like his father William Rathbone Greg, the author was actively involved in the Victorian debate on oligarchy, eugenics and evolutionism. A prolific novelist and a poet, Percy Greg aims to express «a truth of profound significance for all mankind» through a realistic mode of narration. However, beyond its stereotypical didacticism, the text essentially contributes to create the archetype of the journey to the planet within accessible distance from the Earth. Until recently the topos of Mars has fascinated science fiction writers such as Ray Bradbury and his Martian Chronicles. Firstly, science applied to the construction of the spacecraft is thoroughly developed in the long beginning chapters; secondly, the amazing space-montage effects highlight the ever-changing point of view of the traveller-observer whose vision focuses on the morphological features of the new land. On the one hand, the story draws classical motifs from travel literature such as the comparison between the space explorer’s vision of “an island in the midst of the principal ocean” and Columbus’ discovery; on the other hand, the detailed description provides the fictional pattern of science-fiction space travels: purported scientific principles, cumulative details and mathematical data will be exploited by H.G. Wells, while the theme of Mars as a threatening planet will be developed in The War of the Worlds (1897). Aspects of racism and colonialism emerge when the traveller classifies the extra-terrestrial Other on a racial basis and tries to captivate the very first one he encounters by offering him a gift; Eveena looks like a perfect descendant from the finest races of Europe; Mars is a land to be explored and conquered according to an imperialist logic. Greg’s conservatism supports monarchy and capital while attacking communism, doomed to civil war, and untenable democracy As for the «Woman Question,» he seems to sympathize with the reaction to female discrimination enacted by the movements for emancipation rising during the second half of the 19th century: the base utilitarianism of Victorian marriage is fore-grounded in the Martian presentation ceremony; the right of divorce is criticized as a double-edged legal measure paradoxically dispossessing women of their only recognized status. Nevertheless, female psycho-physical inferiority needs masculinity and its gifts of proficiency, endurance and high morality. His attitude of role reformer thus clashes with his patriarchal conceptions of the «inviolable weakness of sex.» The debate on the scope of epistemological research on atheistic, anti-humanistic Mars thematizes the 19th-century dispute over scientific agnosticism aroused by T.H. Huxley. Greg’s attempts to fit Nature into the utopian paradigm of order and transparency include Mars’ sanitary engineering and the erection of a great observatory on an artificially extinct volcano; old age is subsumed within «death as efflux of time,» epidemic diseases are eradicated and euthanasia is practised to imperfect creatures. Still, Esmo’s adoption of a disabled child shows man’s attempt to cope with human deficiencies, a challenge endlessly presented to an ideal perfection. However, Greg reflects the growing late-Victorian ambivalence to scientism and its epistemological creed: the scientific exploitation of natural resources enhances technological progress but does not secure a fuller understanding of the human vital impulse. Although the progress of knowledge in the fields of logic, biology and physics claims disengagement from religion or spirituality, the search for the innermost in human nature challenges a positivist, empiricist approach. Natural laws, inferences from facts and logical deductions are disrupted by «the belief in an after-world where the soul, free from its body, leads the human being to fulfilment,» soothing fears of annihilation and oblivion. The Star’s utopian message is twofold: the principle of man’s transcendence of death through the soul is linked to the belief that occult powers such as mesmerism, telepathy or prophecy lie deeply embedded in human nature and can be enacted to create a connection with the supernatural. The core of the gnoseological utopian journey is the psychic experience of the world, both physical and metaphysical; leaning across the threshold of consciousness, man explores the passing zone between assumed objectivity and perception, spirit and matter. The late 19th century focus on the subconscious – the limen – emphasizes the emergence of powerful cognitive faculties beyond rationality: the interplay of multiple layers of consciousness is explored by parapsychology and will be investigated by Freudian psychoanalytical theories.
9782745302182
Utopia come genere letterario; utopismo; Gran Bretagna; XIX secolo; teorie scientifiche; concezioni religiose
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/1191996
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