Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:
Jules Verne’s stories are not about endings. They aren’t about the past and they aren’t about projections into the future either. The stories are about journeys. Jules Verne wanted to get his characters lost — Lost! LOST! LOST! — lost in the ocean, on uncharted islands, at the very center of Creation. He wanted to pluck his characters out of the light and plunge them into the darkness. Jules Verne sent his characters into mazes that cycled them through future and past — lost in time and place — knowing that they would always return to the present. In the one novel Jules Verne wrote that was explicitly about the future, Paris in the Twentieth Century, the main character heads straight into the darkness and never returns. He is 16-year-old Michel Dufrénoy, a student of classics and literature, born into a century that has no interest in either. Paris 1960 is a time and place without war but also without poetry, where only technology and business are valued. Michel cannot work, he cannot love, and he eats synthetic food. Michel spends the novel journeying through the city of Paris like a refugee, aimless and unloved, until he becomes delirious. He moves in circles around the city, hunted by the Demon of Electricity. The novel ends abruptly with the poet circling Père-Lachaise cemetery weeping, where he at last collapses unconscious in the snow.
If Verne’s protagonists often seem to stop short of revelation, it’s because the revelation is not meant to be known.