Literary A True Story by Lucian of Samosata
#11  fantasyfan 07-24-2019, 01:57 AM
For anyone interested, there is an excellent extended article on “Proto-science fiction” in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia here

The same source also has an article concerning Lucian:

Personally, I think that The True History is satire using the conventions of imaginative literature in the broad sense. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy describes the work as “a parody of the travellers’ tales that were already multitudinous in Lucian’s day.”

#12  fantasyfan 07-24-2019, 09:41 AM
Quote Spinnenmonat
Has anybody tried the version of Delphi Classics, is it a good bargain?
Just an update—the Delphi volume iis an excellent buy! It contains the translation by H W Fowler as well as others.

#13  AnotherCat 08-01-2019, 12:55 AM
I have enjoyed this and is another choice of the group which I would likely otherwise never got to.

In the main I read the Fowler translation with the Redmond commentary. I also partly read the Harmon translation and glanced through the Hickes one. The Harmon one, although dating from 1913, contained the most fluid prose to me (enough so for it to come across well using a text to speech reader).

I could not really find much that for me gave the story any inkling as to it being science fictionish, rather I found it to be fantasy and satire with humor. In considering this I tried to put myself back in Lucian's time and scientific (really philosophic then) environment and while he takes us to the moon, for example, that is a fantasy voyage in a contemporary vehicle. In comparison, Well's science fiction also takes us to the moon but that is in a rocket ship of a type yet to be invented.

I found parts of Book II to be a lampoon of the classics authors and others. What drove Lucian to that I do not know as the targets were people of mythology or from several centuries before his time.

It is short enough and enjoyable enough that I will read it again, the Harmon version that time in full.

#14  Bookworm_Girl 08-03-2019, 06:08 PM
I am glad that we read this book. It was an interesting and unique choice. I can safely say that I never would have heard of this book or author if not for the book club. I wish I had read Gulliver's Travels at some time in the past to understand its influence on Swift.

I also would describe it as more fantasy than science fiction. I enjoyed reading the article on proto-SF that fantasyfan posted (thanks again!) since I do not know much about the history of the science fiction genre. There were some lines that were laugh out loud funny. It was very imaginative. I am very glad that I read an annotated version so I was able to understand the allusions to the works that were the object of his satire. I am also thankful that the version I read also included an appendix of selections from works of that time period, placing the parody in context. Therefore this work was also an insightful read for me. I fully admit that I am very ignorant of classical literature and mythology.

How ironic that there is little biographical information of Lucian except what he tells in his works that may or not be autobiography. Because of his sarcasm, scholars can't trust the truth of his writing.

What a great concluding line! I hope no one waited patiently for the sequels.
Our fortunes on the continent will be the subject of the following books.

#15  Spinnenmonat 08-13-2019, 05:27 AM
That's exactly the magic of our book club. Different participants have different background knowledges and points of view. One may know something that the others know little about. We can always share our knowledges and thoughts.
(I am sorry, because of the problems of my internet connection to this website, I can not take part in the activities of our book club regularly. But I am always with you all.)

#16  sun surfer 08-30-2019, 05:49 AM
I enjoyed it well enough, and thought it definitely heavily used the Odyssey for outline structure and satiric inspiration, such as for instance they visited Calypso's island, and they also visited the underworld that Odysseus and company did, and I also thought maybe the space fighting was, accordingly, somewhat of a satire of the Iliad.

The version I read, The True History Decrypted, had some very strange annotations, lol. It was a smorgasbord of quality. Some were good, and others were so obvious and extraneous as to be funny. At the moment I can't think of examples but I might go find some to post.

#17  fantasyfan 08-31-2019, 02:38 PM
I would agree with those who feel that an annotated edition is very helpful for making sense of the satire. I can see the influence it had on Swift though I feel that Gulliver’s Travels is far superior. Of course that is in part because I can relate to Swift’s satiric vision more readily than to Lucian’s.

I have read that Lucian’s Dialogues of the Dead is generally regarded his masterpiece. There, the satire is more directed at the human condition itself as being futile. I think I may give that work a try.

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