IBNA- Science fiction novel 'The Begum's Fortune' (1879) by prominent French writer Jules Verne, a cautionary, and somewhat pessimistic book about the development of science and technology has become available in Persian.
Also published as 'The Begum's Millions', the novel combines some utopian elements and other elements that seem clearly dystopian. It has been translated into Persian by Farzaneh Mehri. Afarinegan Publishing in Tehran has released 'The Begum's Fortune' in 239 pages.
Two heirs to an Indian Begum's estate- Dr. Francois Sarrasin, a Frenchman, and Professor Schultz, a German- split 525 million francs. With his half of the money, Sarrasin builds an ideal community called Frankville in the northwestern United States. Schultz uses his half to construct a city called Steeltown, which produces weapons of destruction. Of course, their ideologies clash . . . literally and figuratively.
The book was seen as an early premonition of the rise of Nazi Germany, with its main villain being described by critics as "a proto-Hitler". It reflects the mindset prevailing in France following its defeat in the Franco-German War of 1870–1871, displaying a bitter anti-German bias completely absent from pre-1871 Verne works such as ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ where all protagonists (save one Icelander) are Germans and quite sympathetic ones.
In his extensive review of Verne's works, Walter A. McDougall commented with the regard to ‘The Begum's Millions’: "After the Franco-Prussian War, Verne began to invent mad scientists and evil geniuses".
Throughout the book, Verne repeatedly ridicules Schultze's racist ideas and their author (the word "Vaterland" in German continually occurs within the French rendering of Schultze's diatribes). As reviewer Paul Kincaid points out, Verne's ridiculing of the German's ethnic stereotyping can be regarded as itself part of an ethnic stereotyping in the opposite direction.
Verne is best known for his tales of adventure, including ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’, ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, and ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’. A true visionary, Verne foresaw the skyscraper, the submarine, and the airplane, among many other inventions, and is now regarded as one of the fathers of science fiction.