9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Michael A. Duvernois
- Published on Amazon.com
This is the first "journey into the hollow Earth" novel. Written shortly after Gulliver's Travels, by a Danish author. Much less satirical than Gulliver, this is still a mix of philosophical comment and adventure. Though adventures there are aplenty with warring birds, talking instruments, intelligent trees, and a sort of mini-solar system in the very center of the Earth.
Bison Frontiers of Imagination have been diligently reprinting the often lost or ignored "science fiction" of the past. Here we have the first journey into the hollow Earth written by a contemporary of Jonathan Swift, but a largely forgotten book. Pick it up, no one you know has read it...
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I am always hesitant to review a work in translation, such as this work. One can never be sure that the translator is not using his power as interpreter to become co-author, after all! On the other hand, the work was originally written in Latin, which is not as impenetrable a language as all that, so one assumes that if Mr. McNelis, Jr., was taking major liberties with the text, that someone would have called him on it. But translators are a wily bunch…
Ludvig Holberg was a Norwegian-born, culturally Danish Enlightenment philosopher and man of letters who did not write in English; he wrote many plays, historical works, poems, and essays. This was his only novel, and the novel as a genre was young although the romance as a genre was not. This work is much more a "romance" in the old tradition than a "novel", as it is intensely episodic and structurally 'messy'. Comparisons with Jonathan Swift's more famous Gulliver's Travels are highly justified. I am not a fan of the Enlightenment or the literature that it produced, so I personally did not much care for this, but if the eighteenth century is your period of choice, you will probably love this. I did appreciate the strong imagination and the utterly bizarre ending. Gryphons and wandering Jews, tiger-men and defecation…yes. So the book has its merits.
From the perspective of literary history, this work is very significant. Holberg is considered the founder of modern Danish and Norwegian literature, the "Molière of the North", and this work happens to be the first proto-science fiction novel about venturing into the earth's center.
The edition of this book is splendidly done - a preface *and* an introduction (woo!), excellent cover design, legible typeface––Bison Books, you spoil us! A bit pricy (hellaciously expensive now that it's gone out of print), so you might wish to cruise real-life used bookstores for this instead of a used copy on Amazon.