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The Begum's Millions

Jules Verne

Publication Year: 2013

When two European scientists unexpectedly inherit an Indian rajah's fortune, each builds an experimental city of his dreams in the wilds of the American Northwest. France-Ville is a harmonious urban community devoted to health and hygiene, the specialty of its French founder, Dr. Francois Sarrasin. Stahlstadt, or City of Steel, is a fortress-like factory town devoted to the manufacture of high-tech weapons of war. Its German creator, the fanatically pro-Aryan Herr Schultze, is Verne's first truly evil scientist. In his quest for world domination and racial supremacy, Schultze decides to showcase his deadly wares by destroying France-Ville and all its inhabitants. Both prescient and cautionary, The Begum's Millions is a masterpiece of scientific and political speculation and constitutes one of the earliest technological utopia/dystopias in Western literature. This Wesleyan edition features notes, appendices, and a critical introduction as well as all the illustrations from the original French edition.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Early Classics of Science Fiction

Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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A Note on the Translation

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pp. ix-xii

This new translation of The Begum’s Millions by Stanford Luce is the first modern English translation of an important but often neglected Jules Verne novel, Les Cinq cents millions de la Bégum (1879). The two previous English translations both date from 1879. The first, an anonymous translation...

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pp. xiii-xl

“Without him, our century would be stupid,” the novelist René Barjavel once wrote.1 From the magical aerial adventures of the balloonists in Cinq semaines en ballon (1863, Five Weeks in a Balloon) to the underwater discoveries of Captain Nemo, Verne has never ceased to stimulate the imagination of readers from every point of...

The Begum’s Millions by Jules Verne

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pp. xli-xlii

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1. Mr. Sharp Makes His Entrance

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pp. 1-13

“These English newspapers are really quite well written!” the good doctor murmured to himself as he settled into a large leather armchair.1
All his life Dr. Sarrasin had indulged in such soliloquies, no doubt a sign of a certain absentmindedness.2
He was a man in his fifties with refined features, sparkling and...

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2. Two Friends

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pp. 13-26

The doctor’s son, Octave Sarrasin, was not exactly what one would call lazy. He was neither stupid nor of superior intelligence, neither handsome nor ugly, neither tall nor short, neither brown- nor blond-haired. The latter was a kind of chestnut color, and Octave was in every way an average young man born...

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3. A News Item

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pp. 26-36

Arriving at the fourth meeting of the Association of Hygiene Conference, Dr. Sarrasin could see that all his colleagues greeted him with utmost respect. Until then, Lord Glandover, Knight of the Garter, who held the office of president of the association, had scarcely deigned to notice the French doctor’s...

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4. Divided in Two

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pp. 36-48

On the 6th of November, at 7 o’clock in the morning, Herr Schultze arrived at the Charing Cross station.1 At noon he presented himself at 93 Southampton Row, in a large room divided by a wooden barrier — the clerks on one side, the public on the other — furnished with six chairs, a black table, innumerable...

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5. The City of Steel

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pp. 48-66

The place and time have now changed.1 For five years the Begum’s inheritance has been in the hands of her two heirs. The scene has now shifted to the United States, in southern Oregon, ten leagues from the Pacific shore.2 This region, which is still unmapped for the most part, forms a kind of American...

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6. The Albrecht Mine

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pp. 66-78

Mme Bauer, the good woman who had offered hospitality to Marcel Bruckmann, was Swiss by birth and the widow of a miner killed four years earlier in one of those cataclysms which makes the life of a coal miner a continual battle. The company gave her a small annual pension of thirty dollars, to which she added...

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7. The Central Block

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pp. 79-89

A detailed report from Dr. Echternach, head physician of the Albrecht shaft area, established that the death of Carl Bauer, no. 41,902, age thirteen, “trapper” in gallery 228, was due to asphyxia resulting from the absorption through the respiratory organs of a strong dose of carbon...

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8. The Dragon’s Lair

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pp. 89-104

The reader who has followed the progress of the young Alsatian’s fortune will probably not be surprised to find him, at the end of a few weeks, working closely and becoming very familiar with Herr Schultze.1 The two had become inseparable. Work, meals, promenades in the park, leisurely smoking over draughts...

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9. Absent without Leave

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pp. 105-117

The situation was, indeed, extremely grave. What could Marcel do, he whose remaining hours were now numbered and perhaps whose last night would arrive with the setting of the sun?
He did not sleep an instant — not for fear of never waking up again, as Herr Schultze had said, but because his thoughts never...

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10. An Article from Unsere Centurie, a German Journal

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pp. 117-129

One month prior to the time in which the above events took place, a journal in a salmon-colored jacket entitled Unsere Centurie (Our Century) published the following article about France-Ville.1 This article was especially appreciated by those discerning people of the German Empire, perhaps because...

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11. Dinner at Dr. Sarrasin’s

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pp. 130-136

On the 13th of September — only a few hours before the time designated by Herr Schultze for the destruction of France-Ville — neither the governor nor any of the residents had any notion of the frightful danger threatening them.
It was seven o’clock in the evening.
Nestled in thick beds of laurel roses...

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12. The Council

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pp. 136-148

The King of Steel’s hatred for Dr. Sarrasin’s work was no secret. Everyone knew that he had come to set up his own city against theirs. But no one believed that he would go so far as to attack this peaceful city and to attempt to destroy it in one fatal blow. Yet, the article in the...

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13. Letter from Marcel Bruckmann to Professor Schultze, Stahlstadt

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pp. 148-150

“France-Ville, September 14
“It seems appropriate for me to inform the King of Steel that I most fortunately passed over the border of his possessions the evening before yesterday, preferring my own health to that of the model for the Schultze cannon.
“In presenting my farewell, I should be...

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14. Preparing for Combat

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pp. 150-156

If the danger was no longer imminent, it was still serious. Marcel informed Dr. Sarrasin and his friends of all that he knew about the preparations of Herr Schultze and his engines of destruction. And the next day the Defense Council, of which he was a member, began to discuss a plan of resistance and...

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15. The San Francisco Stock Exchange

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pp. 156-165

The San Francisco Stock Exchange, a condensed and rather algebraic expression of an immense industrial and commercial system, is one of the busiest and strangest in the world. As a natural consequence of being located in California’s capital, it has a distinctive cosmopolitan character, which is one...

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16. Two Frenchman against a City

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pp. 165-174

When the news of Schultze’s disappearance reached France-Ville, Marcel’s first words had been:
“Suppose it’s just a ruse of war?”
No doubt, upon reflection, he would have realized that the results of such a tactic would have been so grievous for Stahlstadt that the hypothesis was not...

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17. Explanations at Gunpoint

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pp. 174-183

The two young men were hardly expecting such a question. They were more surprised by this than if they had been met by gunfire.
Of all the speculations that Marcel had imagined about this dormant city, the only one that had not crossed his mind was this one: a living person quietly asking him for the reason for his visit. His...

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18. The Kernel of the Mystery

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pp. 183-190

The top of the steel ladder led to a vast circular room with no communication to the outside. This room would have been in total darkness if a dazzling white light had not filtered upward through the thick glass of a round window embedded in the center of its oak floor. It resembled the disk of the moon...

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19. A Family Affair

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pp. 190-194

Perhaps, in the course of this narrative, the personal lives of those who play the heroes have not been discussed enough. That is just one more reason for us to return to them now and provide more details about them.
The good doctor, it must be said, was not so taken with humanity as a collective being that...

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20. Conclusion

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pp. 195-196

France-Ville, rid of all worry, at peace with all its neighbors, well governed, happy thanks to the wisdom of its residents, is now in full prosperity. Its success is so justly deserved that it does not elicit envy, and its strength imposes the respect of even the most...


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pp. 197-220


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pp. 221-252

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Jules Gabriel Verne: A Biography

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pp. 253-261

Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, to a middle-class family in the port city of Nantes, France. His mother, Sophie, née Allotte de la Fuÿe, was the daughter of a prominent family of shipowners, and his father, Pierre Verne, was an attorney and the son of a Provins magistrate. Jules was the eldest of five children. In addition...

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About the Contributors

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p. 262-262

Arthur B. Evans is professor of French at DePauw University and managing editor of the scholarly journal Science Fiction Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Verne and early French science fiction, including the award-winning Jules Verne Rediscovered (Greenwood, 1988). He is general editor of Wesleyan’s “Early Classics...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819574596
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819567963

Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Early Classics of Science Fiction