RECITS DE L'INFINI: LUMEN, HISTOIRE D'UNE COMETE, DANS L'INFINI. Paris: Librairie Academique Didier et Cie, Libraires-Editeurs, 1873. Octavo, pp. [1-4] [1-3] 4-415 [416: blank], title page printed red and black, contemporary quarter red leather and marbled boards, spine panel lettered and ruled in gold, marbled endpapers. First edition, first printing. Some references give 1872 as the date of the first edition, perhaps taking the information from Versins (Encyclopedie de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires et de Science Fiction, 1972, p. 337) but no copy dated 1872 exists in the online records of any libraries, including the British Library and the Bibliotheque National, all of which cite 1873 as the correct date. In addition, a list in the current copy (opposite the title page) of other works by the author notes later editions where relevant but cites the present title without any such mention. Bibliographical missteps aside, Versins calls this one of the most valuable books in the field of science fiction. An English translation appeared the same year from Roberts Brothers in Boston. The book contains three distinct works (as noted in its title). An enlarged edition followed in 1887 as LUMEN. The revised text of LUMEN was translated into English and published in New York in 1892 by Cassell (apparently an unauthorized edition) and in London in 1897 by Heinemann (apparently an authorized edition with further revisions by Flammarion). The earlier Roberts Brothers text follows Flammarion's original 1873 text. LUMEN is a story, in a series of dialogues, "of a being who has undergone a number of incarnations on other worlds, including planets round Capella, Gamma Virgo, Sirius and in the constellation Orion." - Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 84. LUMEN is "perhaps the single most innovative work in the entire literature of the scientific imagination. It is the first work to offer any real idea of the scale of the universe; the first to investigate the implications of the finite speed of light (and thus to toy with the notion of the relativity of space and time); and the first to examine the implications of evolutionary theory in the modeling of alien life-systems. In all these endeavors it was ahead of its time ... It is in Flammarion's work that we find the fountainhead of the mythology of alien beings ... Flammarion originated the mode of thought which is effective in modern science fiction's dealings with the category alien. LUMEN's affinity with modern science fiction goes further than this, because it is a work expressly directed to the cultivation of the sense of wonder (in whose cultivation, according to many readers, the prime virtue of modern science fiction lies)." - Survey of Science Fiction Literature III, pp. 1294-98. Of the two other stories in this volume, HISTOIRE D'UNE COMETE and DANS L'INFINI, the first is a panoramic history of the solar system narrated by a passing comet, while the second is a spirit description of the universe. Anatomy of Wonder (2004) II-406. A fine copy in a handsome binding. (#23058).

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