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Jules Verne's Captain Nemo and French Revolutionary Gustave Flourens:A Hidden Character Model?

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Abstract:

This article treats the recent assumption made by Vernian specialist William Butcher that Jules Verne's most famous character, Captain Nemo, is based on the French revolutionary intellectual Gustave Flourens (1838-1871), son of the eminent physiologist J. P. M. Flourens. Gustave Flourens fought in the Cretan insurrection of 1866-1868, later participated in the republican opposition against Napoleon III's imperial regime, eventually became a friend of Karl Marx and was finally killed as a general of the Paris Commune. By comparing step-by-step Verne's inspiration and writing procedures with Flourens' unfolding activities and fame, it is concluded that there is little basis for such an assumption. The article includes also a brief account of the Cretan question in the nineteenth century and of the deep discord between Marx's and Flourens' respective analyses of the Eastern Question.

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