Gigantic bats in Space!

Modern Books and Manuscripts 2013-09-25

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Voyage dans la lune avant 1900 is an extraordinary French children’s book that is composed primarily of color lithographs by Herold & Cie., which are based on the original designs of A. de Ville d’Avray’s.  Almost nothing about the author A. de Ville d’Avray is known.  In his Preface he says that he made the book for his children “sheet by sheet during the long evenings of winter.”  It was published around 1892 and is considered by some to be the first science fiction book.  The text features two characters M. Baboulifiche and his faithful servant, Papavoine.   They transport themselves in a hot air ballon to the moon, but after crashing face a number of monstrous and surreal creatures.  Once they are able to escape some dangerous situations on the moon they are taken by gigantic bats to Saturn and end up suffering several versions of death, including being eaten by flying lizards.  In the end we discover that it was all a terrible dream as Baboulifiche wakes up safe in his home.    Voyage dans la lune avant 1900 / par A. De Ville D’Avray. Paris : Librairie Furne, Jouvet & Cie., [1892]. PN56.V6 V4 1892. can be found at Houghton Library along with many other more contemporary science fiction titles in their Science Fiction Collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, and Ryan Wheeler, Rare Book Cataloger, for contributing this post.