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1638 __ « The Man in the Moone - or a Discourse of a Voyage thither, by Domingo Gonsales, the Speedy Messenger »
Bishop Francis Godwin of Hereford (1562-1633)
Comment : Bishop of Hereford and author of what is arguably the first science fiction story to be written in the English language. In The Man in the Moone, published posthumously in 1638, Godwin conveys his astronaut, Domingo Gonsales, to the Moon in a chariot towed by trained geese. (Gonsales had intended a less ambitious flight but discovers that the geese are in the habit of migrating a little further than ornithologists had supposed!) In keeping with both popular and scientific opinion of his day, Godwin accepted the notion that air filled the space between worlds and that the Moon was inhabited by intelligent human beings. He may, however, have been the first to hint at the possibility of weightlessness.In this production Godwin not only declares himself a believer in the Copernican system, but adopts so far the principles of the law of gravitation as to suppose that inertial mass decreases with distance from the Earth. The work, which displays considerable fancy and wit, influenced John Wilkins' “The discovery of a world in the Moone”. Both works were translated into French, and were imitated in several important particulars by Cyrano de Bergerac, from whom (if not from Godwin directly) Jonathan Swift obtained valuable hints in writing of Gulliver's voyage to Laputa. Another work of Godwin's, “Nuncius inanimatus”, published In “Utopia”, originally printed in 1629 and again in 1657, seems to have been the prototype of John Wilkins's “Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger”, which appeared in 1641. Another work was “De praesulibus Angliae” (1616). (Compiled from various sources).The suggestion of using music to communicate with intelligence beyond Earth has a long history. As early as the 17th century, the European literary genre of the imaginary voyage provided a context for exploring a variety of proposals for universal language schemes. For example, the English clergyman Francis Godwin described a voyage to the Moon, in which the terrestrial adventurer encountered strange and exotic Lunarians who communicated through a musical language. The inspiration for this tonal language, however, was thoroughly terrestrial -- based on the Chinese language as described by Jesuit missionaries recently returned to Europe. In the case of Godwins lunar "language," the musical system was simply a method for translating letters of the alphabet into particular musical notes. However, it did preview more truly universal language proposals of the next three centuries. But would music really be comprehensible to intelligent beings who evolved independently of humans on other planets? Are the mathematical and acoustical foundations of terrestrial music sufficiently universal to provide a basis for interstellar communication?. (“SETI: Celestial Music” By Douglas Vakoch, 2000)First account in English of a journey to the Moon. Shipwrecked on an Island, the hero, Domingo Gonsales, manages to train birds to lift things into the air. One day while experimenting with a trapeze contraption he is taken by them directly to the Moon which took 11 days. He experienced diminishing gravitational pull (incidently he wrote this half a century before Newton proposed his principle of gravitation). On the Moon he found men twice as big as earth men, no disease, moved by leaping and fanning themselves along. Gonzales speaks with them about a number of subjects including Spanish wine and Antwerp beer. The prince of the Lunarians gives him a jewel which allows him to return to Earth taking only 9 days because of the ‘Earth’s pull’. This was a scientific/philosophical work where he advanced 13 propositions concerning the nature of the moon and the possibilities of creating craft to get there and establish a colony there. These craft would be propelled by flying wings or ‘a flying chariot’. (Carol Duncan, Gionni Di Gravio)According to Godwin, the Moon characteristics such as land are similar to our Earth's, but huger: everything is ten, twenty or even thirty times higher than ours, their trees are at least three times higher, and more than five times thicker. The people are "most of the time twice as high," their homes between forty rooms fifty feet high, the entries at least thirty feet high. Her prince, Pylonas, is the highest of all and the taller they are the more mentally gifted they are and live longest. [...] The Moon is not completely dark. His language, as is partly musical, and difficult to learn. There is no evil, and food grows everywhere. The women are so beautiful that once a man knows a woman no longer wants to hear from others. But people believing in life, trees, and nature in the Moon goes further back than Godwin in time. It is said that Anaxagoras and Democritus believed that there were mountains, valleys and fields in the Moon. The Pythagoreans believed that the Moon had trees and animals fifteen times larger than Earth's animals, and that the Moon's color is the same of Earth, for it was crowded and full of people like this our Earth. (4dlab.info)
French comment : En [1638] dans “L'Homme dans la Lune”, Francis Godwin imagine une langue extraterrestre musicale où le "ton" ferait la distinction des sens : « Cela me fait croire qu’il serait facile d’inventer une langue telle que celle-ci, que l’on pourrait apprendre aisément, et qui serait même aussi aisée qu’aucune des autres langues du Monde, ne consistant qu’en tons et en notes. ». (Compiled from various sources)"The Man in the Moone" de l'Anglais Francis Godwin en 1638, donnait aux Séliniens (lunaires) un langage musical, sans distinguer entre noblesse et peuple [comme chez Cyrano de Bergerac] et sans aborder la question de l'écriture. L'idée de la musique aurait été inspirée à Godwin par les traités contemporains sur la tonalité chantante de la langue chinoise (langues à ton). (Daniel Maher)Dans son livre, "Voyages to the Moon", Marjorie H. Nicolson montre qu’il est possible de faire quelques rapprochements entre le "The Man in the Moone" de Francis Godwin et un certain nombre d’œuvres mineures. Ces liens, parfois subjectifs, montrent que l’attelage d’oies de Domingo Gonzales, le héros du roman, était devenu assez populaire après la parution du livre en 1638. Le successeur direct le plus célèbre de Francis Godwin est Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac. "États et Empires de la Lune" doit beaucoup à "The Man in the Moone", non seulement pour l’intrigue, mais aussi pour un grand nombre de détails. Harold W. Lawton dresse un inventaire de ces détails : intuition de la gravitation, démesure de l’autre monde, absence de faim et de soif pendant le voyage sur la Lune, éternel printemps sur la Lune, baume guérisseur, retournement physique du héros lors de la jonction des sphères d’attraction de la Lune et de la Terre. On peut en relever d’autres : couleur de certains sélénites (olivastre), similarité des arguments jusque dans la formulation… Les héros de Godwin et de Cyrano se rencontrent d’ailleurs dans le roman du second : éA une demye heure de la, je vis entrer, au milieu d’une trouppe de singes qui portoient la fraize et le hault de chausse, un petit homme basty presque tout comme moy, car il marchoit à deux piedz. Si tost qu’il m’apperceut, il m’aborda par un « Criado de nouestra mercede » ; je lui riposté sa reverence à peu pres en mesmes termes […]. Ce petit homme me conta qu’il estoit European, natif de la vieille Castille, qu’il avoit trouvé moyen avec des oyseaux de se faire porter jusques au monde de la lune où nous estions à present…" Il faut cependant garder à l’esprit que si Cyrano a eu connaissance du roman de Godwin, c’est probablement par l’intermédiaire de la traduction qu’en a fait Jean Baudoin. Or cette traduction est assez fantaisiste ; elle élude certains passages, en censure d’autres, et transforme parfois le sens des phrases originales. Parmi les successeurs moins évident de Francis Godwin on peut nommer John Wilkins qui, en 1640, fait paraître une version augmentée de "Discovery of a New World in the Moon" comportant une quatorzième proposition intitulée "That it is possible for some of our posterity to find out a conveyance to this other world ; and, if there be inhabitants there, to have commerce with them" et dont la ressemblance avec le sujet de "The Man in the Moone" ne serait que fortuite selon l’auteur : « Alors que je venais de conclure, le hasard a voulu que je découvre un récit imaginaire traitant du même sujet, récemment publié sous le pseudonyme de Domingo Gonzales, et écrit par un savant évêque depuis peu décédé. » (traduction d’Annie Amartin). En 1687, une pièce d’Aphra Benh, "The Emperor of the Moon", fait, à plusieurs reprises, explicitement référence à The Man in the Moon au détour de dialogues : "Scaramouch : How came he thus infected first ?Elaria : With reading foolish books, Lucian’s Dialogue of the Loftly traveler, who flew up to the Moon, and thence to Heaven; an Heroik business called, the Man in the Moone, if you’ll believe a Spaniard, who was carried thether, upon an Engine drawn by wild Geese…" En 1706, Thomas d’Urfey écrit un opéra-comique qui se présente comme la suite de "The Man in the Moone". On y retrouve les personnages principaux du roman de Godwin et sa célèbre machine. La paternité et la date de la première édition de "The Man in the Moone" n’ont jamais été contestées. Mais la date de composition du roman fait l’objet de nombreuses controverses. Dans un article intitulé "The dates of Godwin’s Domingo Gonzales" Grant Mc Colley propose de situer la genèse du roman entre 1627 et 1629. En effet, on peut admettre qu’il existe un certain nombre de références, dans "The Man in the Moone", au "Sylvia Sylvarum" de Bacon, publié en 1627. La date de 1629 est retenue, elle, en raison de l’annonce faite par le narrateur de la publication prochaine du "Nuncius Inanimatus". On peut donc suggérer que la rédaction de "The Man in the Moone" précède la publication du "Nuncius Inanimatus" en 1629. Dans une note annexée à Hans Pfaall, Edgar Allan Poe parle de “The Man in the Moone” en ces termes : « J’ai lu récemment un petit livre étrange et assez ingénieux dont la page titre porte : L’homme sur la Lune. […] En dépit des bévues que j’ai soulignées, le livre mérite de retenir l’attention parce qu’il nous offre en toute naïveté un spécimen des idées communément admises à l’époque en matière d’astronomie. […] On a écrit d’autres ‘voyages sur la Lune’, mais aucun dont le mérite l’emporte sur celui-ci. Le récit de Bergerac est entièrement dépourvu de sens. ». (Compiled from various sources)L’aventurier de ce formidable [et improbable] périple est un espagnol, Dominique Gonzales. Sans prévenir quiconque, le jeune homme abandonne ses études universitaires pour se consacrer à sa passion : les voyages et tout ce qu’ils apportent. Rencontrer d’autres personnes et découvrir des cultures très diversifiées. Il se rendra à l’île Sainte-Hélène, aux Indes et pour finir après son retour de la Lune, il atterrira en Chine. Pour se déplacer par voie aérienne, Dominique a l’idée de faire un dressage de gansas (oiseaux). Il entraîne avec des poids des oies sauvages. L’essai concluant avec un agneau, il expérimente à son tour l’embarcation. Bientôt, l’attelage prend de l’altitude. Encore et encore. Le vol durera douze jours, durant lesquels il n’éprouvera ni l’envie de boire ni le besoin de manger. Il explique cela « soit par la pureté de l’air ou de l’eau, pour n’être imbue d’aucune vapeur terrestre, me fournit alors d’une nourriture suffisante, soit qu’il le fallut attribuer à une autre cause que je confesse m’être inconnue ». Une fois sur la Lune, l’appétit revient. Les oies et lui-même se nourrissent de feuilles d’arbres. Là-bas, le jeune homme rencontre une civilisation extraterrestre, scindée en trois sous- espèces en fonction de leur taille et de leur longévité. Certains d’entre eux mesurent le double d’un Homme et vivent un millénaire. Les extraterrestres, nous rapporte Dominique, sont très cultivés. Ils sont dirigés par un prince et au sommet de la hiérarchie se trouve le souverain seigneur Irdonozur. L’étranger est chaleureusement accueillit et la communication s’opère malgré la barrière du langage. Il prend succinctement connaissance des us et coutumes, rencontre le souverain seigneur furtivement puis repart sur la Terre... GODWIN s’appuie sur les découvertes scientifiques de son époque. Il prend position, via son personnage, pour le paradigme héliocentrique ainsi que sur les forces de gravitation qui expliquent les trajectoires elliptiques des planètes autour du soleil (NEWTON). Il prône, à travers le concept de voyage, ses bienfaits initiatiques. GODWIN imagine également de mettre en place une langue universelle artificielle basée sur des tonalités et des notes, à l’instar des extraterrestres. Ainsi toutes les barrières linguistiques seraient annihilées. Plus tard, le philosophe allemand LEIBNIZ tentera en vain de formuler la "characteristica universalis". (Compiled from various sources)
Original excerpt : « Part 1.[...] Would to God that lying and Vanitie had beene all the faults he had; his covetousnesse was like to bee my utter undoing, although since it hath proved a meanes of eternizing my name for ever with all Posteritie, (I verily hope) and to the unspeakeable good of all mortall men, that in succeeding ages the world shall have if at the leastwise it may please God that I doe returne safe home againe into my Countrie, to give perfect instructions how those admirable devices, and past all credit of possibilitie, which I have light upon, may be imparted unto publique use. You shal then see men to flie from place to place in the ayre; you shall be able, (without moving or travailing of any creature,) to send messages in an instant many Miles off, and receive answer againe immediately; you shall bee able to declare your minde presently unto your friend, being in some private and remote place of a populous Citie, with a number of such like things: but that which far surpasseth all the rest, you shall have notice of a new World, of many most rare and incredible secrets of Nature, that all the Philosophers of former ages could never so much as dreame off. [...]Part 4.It was now the season that these Birds were wont to take their flight away, as our Cuckoes and swallowes doe in Spaine towards the Autumne. They (as after I perceived) mindfull of their usuall voyage, even as I began to settle my selfe for the taking of them in, as it were with one consent, rose up, and having no other place higher to make toward, to my unspeakeable feare and amazement strooke bolt upright, and never did linne towring upward, and still upward, for the space, as I might guesse, of one whole hower, toward the end of which time, mee thought I might perceive them to labour lesse and lesse; till at length, O incredible thing, they forbare moving any thing at al ! and yet remained unmoveable, as stedfastly, as if they had beene upon so many perches; the Lines slacked; neither I, nor the Engine moved at all, but abode still as having no manner of weight. I found then by this Experience that which no Philosopher ever dreamed of, to wit, that those things which wee call heavie, do not sinke toward the Center of the Earth, as their naturall place, but as drawen by a secret property of the Globe of the Earth, or rather some thing within the same, in like sort as the Loadstone draweth Iron, being within the compass of the beames attractive. [...] An other thing there was exceeding, and more then exceeding, troublesome unto mee, and that was the Illusions of Devills and wicked spirits, who, the first day of my arrivall, came about mee in great numbers, carrying the shapes and likenesse of men and women, wondring at mee like so many Birds about an Owle, and speaking divers kindes of Languages which I understood not, till at last I did light upon them that spake very good Spanish, some Dutch, and othersome Italian; for all these Languages I understood. [...]Part 7.[...] In good time, therefore, I setled my selfe immediately to the learning of the language which (a marvellous thing to consider) is one of the same throughout all the regions of the Moone, yet so much the lesse to bee wondred at, because I cannot thinke all the Earth of Moone to Amount to the fortieth part of our inhabited Earth, partly because the Globe of the Moone is much lesse then that of the Earth, and partly because their Sea or Ocean covereth in estimation Three parts of Foure, (if not more) whereas the superficies of our land may bee judged Equivalent and comparable in Measure to that of our Seas. The Difficulty of that language is not to bee conceived, and the reasons thereof are especially two : First, because it hath no affinitie with any other that ever I heard. Secondly, because it consisteth not so much of words and Letters, as of tunes and uncouth sounds, that no letters can expresse. For you have few wordes but they signifie divers and severall things, and they are distinguished onely by their tunes that are as it were sung in the utterance of them, yea many wordes there are consisting of tunes onely, so as if they list they will utter their mindes by tunes without wordes: for Example, they have an ordinary salutation amongst them, signifying (Verbatim) Glorie be to God alone, which they expresse (as I take it, for I am no perfect Musician) by this tune without any words at all. [...] By occasion hereof, I discerne meanes of framing a Language (and that easie soone to bee learned) as copious as any other in the world, consisting of tunes onely, whereof my friends may know more at leasure if it please them. This is a great Mystery and worthier the searching after then at first sight you would imagine. [...] »
Source : Maher, Daniel (2002), “La Communication fantaisiste au XVIIème siècle”, In “Étrange Topos Étranger” dirigé par Max Vernet, Université Queen's Kingston 2002, Presses Université Laval, 2006, pp. 147-184.
Source : Cornelius, Paul (1965), "Languages in Seventeenth - and early Eighteenth - Century Imaginary Voyages", p. 38.
Source : Godwin, Francis (1638), “The Man in the Moone or A Discourse Of A Voyage Thither by Domingo Gonsales, The Speedy Messenger”, London : John Norton for Joshua Kuton, and Thomas Warren ; and also : Ed. John Anthony Butler, (Publications of the Barnabe Riche Society, 3.), Ottawa: Dovehouse Editions, 1995.
Source : Godwin, Francis (1638), “L’Homme dans la Lune”, L’Insulaire, 2007.
Source : Aït-Touati, Frédérique (2005), “La découverte d'un autre monde : fiction et théorie dans les oeuvres de John Wilkins et de Francis Godwin”, Revue Epistémè, N° 7 (printemps 2005) “Sciences et Littérature(s)”, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, p. 15.
Source : Lawton, L.H. (1931), “Bishop Godwin’s Man in the Moone”, In The Review of English Studies 1931 os-VII(25):23-55; doi:10.1093/res/os-VII.25.23, Oxford University Press, 1931.
Source : Amartin, Annie (1988), “Francis Godwin – L’homme dans la Lune - The Man in the Moone”, édition bilingue ; texte traduit par Jean Baudoin et annoté par Annie Amartin, Nancy : Presses Universitaires de Nancy.
Source : Mc Colley, Grant (1937), “The dates of Godwin’s Domingo Gonsales”, In Modern Philology, XXXV, 1937.
Source : Hope Nicolson, Marjorie (1948), “Voyages to the Moon”, New York, McMillan.
Source : Poe, Edgar Allan (?), “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall”, New York : AMS Press, 1965.
Source : Hutton, Sarah (2005),”The Man in the Moone and the New Astronomy : Godwin, Gilbert, Kepler”, in Études Épistémè, 7, 2005, Science(s) et littérature(s), I, p. 3-14.
Urls : http://www.etudes-episteme.org/ee/articles.php?lng=fr&pg=78 (last visited ) http://www.space.com/searchforlife/seti_celestial_music_001222.html (last visited ) http://res.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/os-VII/25/23 (last visited ) http://uoncc.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/godwin004.jpg?w=1000 (last visited ) http://www2.fcsh.unl.pt/docentes/rmonteiro/pdf/The_Man_in_the_Moone.pdf (last visited )

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