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Sr. de Chimpanzé

Sr. de Chimpanzé

Júlio Verne

Mário Montenegro

Isidore disguises himself as a chimpanzee in order to get inside the Zoological Museum run by the father of the girl he’s in love with. This operetta by Jules Verne originally premiered in Paris in 1858, a year before the publication of Charles Darwin’s seminal work which caused an uproar for allowing for the possibility of evolutionary proximity between us and the other animals (namely other primates). Initially ill-received by the parisian public, the play remained unpublished until 1980, when a copy of the libretto was found in the censorship’s archives by Robert Pouvoyeur, a specialist in Verne and Offenbach. The Portuguese translation is due to Mario Montenegro and Marionet’s production of the text in University of Coimbra’s Science Museum for the European Night of Researchers 2009.



Jules Gabriel Verne

Jules Gabriel Verne, known in Portuguese-speaking countries as Júlio Verne, was born in Nantes, on February 8th, 1828. The eldest of the five children of Pierre Verne, a lawyer, and Sophie Allote de la Fuÿe, from a bourgeois family of Nantes, he is considered the inventor of science fiction, having predicted in his books the appearance of new scientific advances, such as submarines, flying machines and the moon voyage.


At the age of eight he entered the Saint-Donalien Seminary and studied philosophy and rhetoric at the Lycée de Nantes. Despite a failed attempt, at the age of 11, to run away to India, he ended up following his father’s wishes and studied Law, graduating in Nantes in 1846 and moving to Paris in 1848 to continue his studies. It is there that he begins his literary career and prioritises his passion for theatre and literature over his education in Law. He thus came into contact with some of the great figures of French literature of the second half of the 19th century, such as Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, the latter having played a pivotal role in the production of his first dramatic text “Les Pailles Rompues” (Broken Straws, premiered on June 12th, 1850).


The following year, 1851, he published his first short story, “Un drame dans les airs” in the magazine Musée des familles, edited by his fellow countryman Pierre-Michel-François Chevalier (known as “Pitre-Chevalier”). In 1862, he met the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who published in his magazine not only his first novel, “Cinq semaines en ballon”, but most of the works for which Verne is known today, namely “Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras”, “Vingt mille lieues sous les mers”, “Voyage au centre de la Terre”, “De la Terre à la Lune” and “Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours”. From 1867, when Verne bought the boat Saint-Michel (which he would replace with the Saint-Michel II and the Saint-Michel III), he sailed through Europe and as far as America.


On March 9th, 1886, on his return home, his 26-year-old nephew Gaston shot him twice with a pistol, one of which struck Verne in the left leg, leaving him with a limp for life. This incident, hidden from the press, led to Gaston being committed to an asylum for the mentally ill.


He was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) in 1870 and promoted to Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour) in 1892.


On March 24th, 1905, suffering from chronic diabetes and complications related to a stroke that had left the left side of his body paralysed, Jules Verne died at his home in Amiens (on what is now Boulevard Jules-Verne). His son, Michel Verne, took charge of the publication of his remaining works, and the series “Voyages Extraordinaires” (where Verne had published most of his works) continued for a few more years.


In 1989, Verne’s great-grandson discovered the unpublished novel “Paris au XXe siècle”, which was later published in 1994.


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