Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'En Amérique, tout est simple'

Famed French author Jules Verne was born this day in 1828. His best known works are Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).

In a memorable quote from another of his notable novels, From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Verne editorializes on nous Américains:
"Nothing can astound an American. It has often been asserted that the word "impossible" is not a French one. People have evidently been deceived by the dictionary. In America, all is easy, all is simple; and as for mechanical difficulties, they are overcome before they arise. Between Barbicane's proposition and its realization no true Yankee would have allowed even the semblance of a difficulty to be possible. A thing with them is no sooner said than done."
If we are to "do big things" as President Obama says, I hope the cocksure America portrayed by Verne still exists in modern form. But I wonder sometimes.

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