In the article, we will examine Jules Verne’s Doctor Ox’s Experiment, which is as unknown as the others and is full of black humor.
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I started reading with Jules Verne. Of course, I was reading things before, but it was Jules Verne who taught me to enjoy reading and taught me to follow the pages in a cheeky way. For example, the first book I finished reading until the morning was Five Weeks in a Balloon. I became interested in submarines with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. As I grew older, my literary taste became thinner and I began to read his works with greater attention. Although Jules Verne was considered one of the first authors of the science fiction genre, his attention to scientific facts in his works made him almost a science writer.
In the past my high school teacher asked “Is science important or literature?” I remember his question. Of course, these concepts are inherent and valuable from each other, but when considered as an intellectual discussion, looking at Jules Verne, answer to this question “Literature is more important.” I think we can easily answer. Because science helps us realize what we dream about. Dreams are fictionalized through literary works. The source of science is the imagination and the literary works that reveal it.
For example, when Jules Verne wrote From The Earth to The Moon, it was only one dream for humans, but it became possible roughly fifty years after the book. Or the machines that Jules Verne described in his books, relying solely on imagination, opened the door to many scientific innovations today and inspired engineers to realize what was told. As Yahya Kemal said, indeed, people live in this realm as long as they dream.
Now, as an adult, I go back to reading Jules Verne’s books and look at Doctor Ox’s Experiment.
Let’s first look at Jules Verne’s biography.
Who is Jules Verne?
Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France, to a wealthy family, and spent winters here and summers on the banks of the Loire River, which eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Throughout his childhood, he looked at ports and ships and dreamed of journeys. Even though we cannot be sure of its accuracy, it is even said that at the age of 12, he escaped from home to go on an adventure, hid secretly on a ship and was caught by his father and promised that he would only travel in his dreams again.
His youth took shape in Paris, where he went to study law. Although he graduated from the law department at the request of his lawyer father, he met the intellectuals of Paris in these years and became interested in writing. Influenced by writers such as Victor Hugo, he wrote theater plays and operettas. However, his father got angry and cut off his financial support for Jules Verne.
After that, Jules Verne started to work as a broker(1) with the support of his wife’s brother whom he married while in Paris. It is known that he read all scientific publications and literary works, including at least 20 magazines or newspapers a day, while waiting for the results of his transactions in the stock market during this period.
In these years, Jules Verne met Piere Jules Hetzel, who will be his publisher and friend for many years, publishing his first book Five Weeks in Balloons, and his first book has been translated into dozens of languages.
Deciding to make a living with this success, Jules Verne left the brokerage and made great agreements with Hetzel for 20 to 30 years and became a prolific writer thanks to these agreements, leaving dozens of works behind.
Jules Verne, who is relieved financially, will spend the next time to write new books, make the journeys that he remembered, and embark on adventures. Based on the experiences he gained from these journeys, he will write adventurous books about places he has never seen, using only his imagination. Meanwhile, the author of the Ottoman Empire because of the detailed descriptions in the book Kéraban The Inflexible the Inflexible on the territory of Turkey is said to make the trip but it is not possible to access a proven knowledge on this subject.
Jules Verne, who also entered politics in his later years, was a councilor in the Municipality of Amiens for a few periods, after doing valuable works in culture and art, he was first shot in the leg by his mentally ill nephew, then he lost his sense of sight due to diabetes. He was destroyed by the death of his friend Hetzel and died in his hometown of France in 1905.
Summary of Doctor Ox’s Experiment
Doctor Ox’s Experiment takes place in a city called Quiquendone, where people lose their excitement, become unresponsive and constantly seek reconciliation. There has not been a single discussion in this city for years. The marriage of people who love each other takes place at least 10 years later. The lawyers have not lost any lawsuits because Quiquendone has not been tried in years. So much so that the mayor of Van Tricasse and Consultant Niklausse are even considering removing the police staff in the city.
Knowing about this situation of the city of Quiquendone, Doctor Ox and his assistant Ygene came to the city with the promise of providing lighting and started to spread the gas mixture they developed secretly to all the city people from the pipes laid under the city. From now on, the mood of the people living in the city of Quiquendone will change in an unprecedented way.
Then, in two months, unprecedented marriages, passionate people, discussions …
Subject of Doctor Ox’s Experiment
Filled with dark humor, this novella (2) is the first neuroscience science fiction, but also contains serious political criticism. He criticizes people who never move in order not to disturb their comfort, calls them to act, and screams that the most important feature of humanity is to have passions.
According to Jules Verne, it is unreasonable to seek reconciliation even on issues that cannot be reconciled, and to live indecisively without taking the responsibility of thinking. Even at the end of the book
“What was this mysterious Doctor Ox trying to do? It’s just a crazy experiment; nothing more. After installing the gas pipes, he filled Quiquendone’s public buildings, then private residences, and finally the streets with pure oxygen without adding a single hydrogen atom. This tasteless, odorless gas, when mixed with high doses of air, causes serious damage to the organism when inhaled.
If you live in an environment saturated with oxygen, anger, extreme anger, and a state of fire will occur! As soon as normal air is reached, the old state is returned; The situation of the counselor and the mayor, who find themselves in breathing air again at the top of the watchtower, is proof of this, as the oxygen is deposited in the lower layers due to its weight.
In addition, living in these conditions, breathing this gas, which causes physiological changes in the body as well as the soul, accelerates death, as is the case with these crazy people who lead an immoderate life. So, the people of Quiquendone were very lucky that an unexpected explosion that grew like Khidr destroyed Doctor Ox’s factory and put an end to this dangerous experiment.
In the end, could all qualities or traits, such as virtue, courage, talent, intelligence, imagination, be due solely to an oxygen problem? This was Doctor Ox’s theory, but the right not to accept this theory applies to everyone, and despite this insane experiment where the venerable city of Quiquendone is the scene, we reject it on our own account, from all points of view.”
I think this book emphasizes a political message that this book should not be perceived as a work of science fiction.
(Jules Verne’s books have been adapted into films many times, including the Around the World in 80 Days, starring Jackie Chan, in 2004.)
The speculative fiction(3) type of work also has an extraordinary narrative style. In literary works, form and content are elements that complement each other. Doctor Ox’s Experiment also has an experimental, entertaining and easy-to-read narrative, with its unconventional section names and report-like progress, justifying its name. Section names are as follows:
- So İt İs Futile to Search for Quiquendone City, Even On The Best Maps.
- In This Part, Mayor Van Tricasse And Consultant Niklausse Discuss The Affairs of The City.
- In This Episode, Commissioner Passauf Makes An Unexpectedly Loud Entry.
- Doctor Ox Turns Out to Be A First-Class Physiologist And Bold Experiment.
- Mayor And Counselor’s Visit to Doctor Ox And What Happened Later.
- Frantz Niklausse And Suzel Van Tricasse Make Plans for The Future.
- Andantes Are Transforming İnto Allegroes And Allegroes İnto Vivacés.
- Former And Glorious German Governor Turns Into a Hurricane.
- Doctor Ox And His Assistant Ygene Just Speak a Few Words.
- In This Section, We Will See That The Epidemic Has Affected The Whole City And The Result İt Creates.
- In This Episode, The People Of Quiquendone Make A Heroic Decision.
- Assistant Ygene Voices The Rational Thought Of Doctor Ox Violently Opposed.
- In This Episode, İt İs Proved Once Again That People İn A High Place Leave Their Great Vulgarity Behind.
- In This Chapter, Things Reach So Extreme That Quiquendone Residents, Readers, And Even The Author Himself Ask For A Solution Immediately.
- The Knot Is Unraveling.
- Despite All The Importance Of The Author, Zeki Reader Realizes That He Has Made The Right Guess
- Doctor Ox’s Theory Revealed
Doctor Ox’s Experiment Quotes
As a language, the paragraphs that are often called the name of the reader, reminding the reader that the text is reading a fiction and that he should think about it, and the author insistently stated that the author is the narrator of the book.
“Our readers know that the mayor has a daughter named Ms. Suzel. But no matter how insightful they were, they could not guess that counselor Niklausse also had a son named Mr. Frantz.” – Page 31.
and literally, there are paragraphs full of creative discoveries that are enjoyable to read:
“Is Quiquendone a lost city? No. Is it a city for the future? Not at all. It exists despite the geographers, for eight or nine hundred years. At the same time, considering that every inhabitant of this city has a soul, it has two thousand three hundred and ninety-three souls.” – Page 1
The Books Of Jules Verne
The main books of Jules Verne, who left countless works and even a few of his works can be published after his death, with the agreements he made with his publisher and his longtime friend Hetzel, are as follows. The book list of this author, who left countless works, can be expanded, of course, but his well-printed and popular books are more or less like that.
- The Adventures of Captain Hatteras
- The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa
- An Antarctic Mystery
- Around the Moon
- Around the World in Eighty Days
- Backwards to Britain
- The Barsac Mission
- Captain Antifer
- The Carpathian Castle
- The Castaways of the Flag
- The Child of the Cavern
- Claudius Bombarnac
- Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen
- Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon
- Family Without a Name
- Five Weeks in a Balloon
- A Floating City
- From the Earth to the Moon
- In Search of the Castaways
- Invasion of the Sea
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Kéraban the Inflexible
- The Kip Brothers
- The Lighthouse at the End of the World
- The Lottery Ticket
- Master of the World
- The Mysterious Island
- The Steam House
- Travel Scholarships
- Tribulations of a Chinaman in China
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas
- Two Years’ Vacation
Paris in the Twentieth Century
Jules Verne has another book called Paris in the Twentieth Century, but his publisher Hetzel thinks that the book should not be published in the years when it was written, finding it very pessimistic. Until 1990, this work is thought to be missing. 126 years after the book was written, when his family found the manuscript of the book in an old ballot box belonging to Jules Verne, the work was published in 1994, 130 years after it was written. It attracts a great deal of attention, especially in France.
I usually approach such stories with suspicion, but of course it is necessary to investigate and comment in detail. Let’s know that he also had a book called Paris in the Twentieth Century.
There are too many opera-related terms in Doctor Ox’s Experiment. I think it will attract the attention of those who are interested.
(1) Broker: Expert financier trading on the Stock Exchange.
(2) Novella: short novel, long story.
(3) Speculative Fiction: A general term expressing compositions in which surreal elements are included in all branches of art.
Review Doctor Ox’s Experiment
Breifly My Opinion
We strongly recommend this extraordinary speculative fiction of Jules Verne, one of the first writers we will recommend to bring children a love of reading.