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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Round The Moon - Chapter XI - Fancy and Reality
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A Round The Moon - Chapter XI - Fancy and Reality Post by :John_Piteo Category :Long Stories Author :Jules Verne Date :July 2011 Read :667

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A Round The Moon - Chapter XI - Fancy and Reality

Chapter XI - Fancy and Reality

"Have you ever seen the moon?" asked a professor, ironically,
of one of his pupils.

"No, sir!" replied the pupil, still more ironically, "but I must
say I have heard it spoken of."

In one sense, the pupil's witty answer might be given by a large
majority of sublunary beings. How many people have heard speak
of the moon who have never seen it-- at least through a glass or
a telescope! How many have never examined the map of their satellite!

In looking at a selenographic map, one peculiarity strikes us.
Contrary to the arrangement followed for that of the Earth and
Mars, the continents occupy more particularly the southern
hemisphere of the lunar globe. These continents do not show
such decided, clear, and regular boundary lines as South
America, Africa, and the Indian peninsula. Their angular,
capricious, and deeply indented coasts are rich in gulfs
and peninsulas. They remind one of the confusion in the
islands of the Sound, where the land is excessively indented.
If navigation ever existed on the surface of the moon, it must
have been wonderfully difficult and dangerous; and we may well
pity the Selenite sailors and hydrographers; the former, when
they came upon these perilous coasts, the latter when they
took the soundings of its stormy banks.

We may also notice that, on the lunar sphere, the south pole is
much more continental than the north pole. On the latter, there
is but one slight strip of land separated from other continents
by vast seas. Toward the south, continents clothe almost the
whole of the hemisphere. It is even possible that the Selenites
have already planted the flag on one of their poles, while
Franklin, Ross, Kane, Dumont, d'Urville, and Lambert have never
yet been able to attain that unknown point of the terrestrial globe.

As to islands, they are numerous on the surface of the moon.
Nearly all oblong or circular, and as if traced with the
compass, they seem to form one vast archipelago, equal to that
charming group lying between Greece and Asia Minor, and which
mythology in ancient times adorned with most graceful legends.
Involuntarily the names of Naxos, Tenedos, and Carpathos, rise
before the mind, and we seek vainly for Ulysses' vessel or the
"clipper" of the Argonauts. So at least it was in Michel
Ardan's eyes. To him it was a Grecian archipelago that he saw
on the map. To the eyes of his matter-of-fact companions, the
aspect of these coasts recalled rather the parceled-out land of
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and where the Frenchman
discovered traces of the heroes of fable, these Americans
were marking the most favorable points for the establishment
of stores in the interests of lunar commerce and industry.

After wandering over these vast continents, the eye is attracted
by the still greater seas. Not only their formation, but their
situation and aspect remind one of the terrestrial oceans; but
again, as on earth, these seas occupy the greater portion of
the globe. But in point of fact, these are not liquid spaces,
but plains, the nature of which the travelers hoped soon
to determine. Astronomers, we must allow, have graced these
pretended seas with at least odd names, which science has
respected up to the present time. Michel Ardan was right when
he compared this map to a "Tendre card," got up by a Scudary or
a Cyrano de Bergerac. "Only," said he, "it is no longer the
sentimental card of the seventeenth century, it is the card of
life, very neatly divided into two parts, one feminine, the
other masculine; the right hemisphere for woman, the left for man."

In speaking thus, Michel made his prosaic companions shrug
their shoulders. Barbicane and Nicholl looked upon the lunar
map from a very different point of view to that of their
fantastic friend. Nevertheless, their fantastic friend was a
little in the right. Judge for yourselves.

In the left hemisphere stretches the "Sea of Clouds," where
human reason is so often shipwrecked. Not far off lies the "Sea
of Rains," fed by all the fever of existence. Near this is the
"Sea of Storms," where man is ever fighting against his
passions, which too often gain the victory. Then, worn out by
deceit, treasons, infidelity, and the whole body of terrestrial
misery, what does he find at the end of his career? that vast
"Sea of Humors," barely softened by some drops of the waters
from the "Gulf of Dew!" Clouds, rain, storms, and humors-- does
the life of man contain aught but these? and is it not summed up
in these four words?

The right hemisphere, "dedicated to the ladies," encloses
smaller seas, whose significant names contain every incident of
a feminine existence. There is the "Sea of Serenity," over
which the young girl bends; "The Lake of Dreams," reflecting a
joyous future; "The Sea of Nectar," with its waves of tenderness
and breezes of love; "The Sea of Fruitfulness;" "The Sea of
Crises;" then the "Sea of Vapors," whose dimensions are perhaps
a little too confined; and lastly, that vast "Sea of
Tranquillity," in which every false passion, every useless
dream, every unsatisfied desire is at length absorbed, and whose
waves emerge peacefully into the "Lake of Death!"

What a strange succession of names! What a singular division of
the moon's two hemispheres, joined to one another like man and
woman, and forming that sphere of life carried into space!
And was not the fantastic Michel right in thus interpreting the
fancies of the ancient astronomers? But while his imagination
thus roved over "the seas," his grave companions were considering
things more geographically. They were learning this new world
by heart. They were measuring angles and diameters.

Content of Chapter XI - Fancy and Reality (Jules Verne's novel: A trip around the Moon)

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