'Voyage to the Moon' and Other Imaginary Lunar Flights of Fancy in Antebellum America

'Voyage to the Moon' and Other Imaginary Lunar Flights of Fancy in Antebellum America

Edited by Paul C. Gutjahr

'Voyage to the Moon' And Other Imaginary Lunar Flights of Fancy in Antebellum America offers critical textual editions with introductions, explanatory footnotes and appendixes of the four moon voyage stories written by Americans before the Civil War.

Hardback, 274 Pages


March 2018

£120.00, $200.00

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About This Book

'Voyage to the Moon' And Other Imaginary Lunar Flights of Fancy in Antebellum America gathers together four moon voyage stories published by Americans prior to the Civil War. Included in this scholarly critical edition are the works of University of Virginia professor George Tucker, literary magazine author and editor Edgar Allan Poe, newspaper editor Richard Adams Locke, and scientist and medical educator John Leonard Riddell. Along with a general introduction to the collection as a whole, each story has its own introductory material along with explanatory footnotes and appendixes to identify the key points of its textual and cultural history.

The four moon tales found in 'Voyage to the Moon' And Other Imaginary Lunar Flights of Fancy in Antebellum America are remarkable for the ways in which they capture a wide diversity of both literary agendas and printed material. These stories originally appeared in genres ranging from the traditional novel and the literary periodical short story to a series of newspaper articles and a scientific pamphlet. The social critiques of Tucker and Poe, the manipulative power of startling scientific revelations demonstrated in Locke’s work and the more measured scientific discussions found in Riddell all bear witness to the power of print and science in the antebellum period.


“In his cogent introductory materials, Gutjahr demonstrates not only the period’s deep interest in the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe but also the state of scientific knowledge about what lay beyond the atmosphere.”
—Philip F. Gura, William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

“This collection of fascinating early American science fiction narratives shows how even antebellum authors were already dreaming beyond their earthly boundaries.”
—Charles Johanningsmeier, Wardle Chair of the College of Arts & Sciences, University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA

“Do you want to go to the moon? If so, there can be no more fabulous travel guides than those Paul Gutjahr has compiled in this collection of nineteenth-century lunacy.”
—George Hutchinson, Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture, Cornell University, USA

“Thanks to the fine research and lucid introduction by Paul Gutjahr, this entertaining collection of early nineteenth-century American moon voyages is an invaluable aid in exploring the science fiction component of America’s cultural imagination.”
—H. Bruce Franklin, John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies, Rutgers University, USA

Author Information

Paul C. Gutjahr is Ruth Halls Professor of English at Indiana University, US.


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Table of Contents

List of Figures; Introduction; Acknowledgements; PART I: VOYAGE TO THE MOON: With Some Account of the Manners and Customs, Science and Philosophy, of the People of Morosofia, and other Lunarians (1827) —Joseph Atterley (George Tucker); CHAPTER I: Atterley’s birth and education—He makes a voyage—Founders off the Burman coast—Adventures in that Empire—Meets with a learned Brahmin from Benares; CHAPTER II: The Brahmin’s illness—He reveals an important secret to Atterley—Curious information concerning the Moon—The Glonglims—They plan a voyage to the Moon; CHAPTER III: The Brahmin and Atterley prepare for their voyage— Description of their travelling machine—Incidents of the voyage—The appearance of the earth; Africa; Greece—The Brahmin’s speculations on the different races of men—National character; CHAPTER IV: Continuation of the voyage—View of Europe; Atlantic Ocean; America—Speculations on the future destiny of the United States—Moral reflections—Pacific Ocean—Hypothesis on the origin of the Moon; CHAPTER V: The voyage continued—Second view of Asia—The Brahmin’s speculations concerning India—Increase of the Moon’s attraction—Appearance of the Moon—They land on the Moon; CHAPTER VI: Some account of Morosofia, and its chief city, Alamatua—Singular dresses of the Lunar ladies—Religious self-denial—Glonglim miser and spendthrift; CHAPTER VII: Physical peculiarities of the Moon—Celestial phenomena —Farther description of the Lunarians—National prejudice—Lightness of bodies—The Brahmin carries Atterley to sup with a philosopher—His character and opinions; CHAPTER VIII: A celebrated physician: his ingenious theories in physics: his mechanical inventions—The feather-hunting Glonglim; CHAPTER IX: The fortune-telling philosopher, who inspected the finger nails: his visiters—Another philosopher, who judged of the character by the hair—The fortune-teller duped—Predatory warfare; CHAPTER X: The travellers visit a gentleman farmer, who is a great projector: his breed of cattle: his apparatus for cooking—He is taken dangerously ill; CHAPTER XI: Lunarian physicians: their consultation—While they dispute the patient recovers—The travellers visit the celebrated teacher Lozzi Pozzi; CHAPTER XII: Election of the Numnoonce, or town-constable—Violence of parties—Singular institution of the Syringe Boys—The prize-fighters—Domestic manufactures; CHAPTER XIII: Description of the Happy Valley—The laws, customs, and manners of the Okalbians—Theory of population —Rent—System of government; CHAPTER XIV: Further account of Okalbia—The Field of Roses—Curious superstition concerning that flower—The pleasures of smell traced to association, by a Glonglim philosopher; CHAPTER XV: Atterley goes to the great monthly fair—Its various exhibitions; difficulties—Preparations to leave the Moon—Curiosities procured by Atterley—Regress to the Earth; CHAPTER XVI: The Brahmin gives Atterley a history of his life; CHAPTER XVII: The Brahmin’s story continued—The voyage concluded—Atterley and the Brahmin separate—Atterley arrives in New-York; PART II: “Hans Pfaall––A Tale” (June 1835) by Edgar Allan Poe; PART III: “Great Astronomical Discoveries Lately Made by Sir John Herschel” (August 25-–30, 1835) by Richard Adam Locke; PART IV: “Orrin Lindsay’s Plan of Aerial Navigation” (May 1847) by John Leonard Riddell; Appendix A: Excerpt from Washington Irving’s A History of New York, 1809; Appendix B: Excerpts from “Anonymous Review of A Voyage to the Moon,” reprinted from American Quarterly Review No. 5 (March 1828); Appendix C: “Note” added for inclusion in the “Hans Pfaall” version in Poe’s collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, 1840; Appendix D: “Richard Adam Locke” in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Literati, 1850; Appendix E: Contemporary Responses to Richard Adam Locke’s “Great Astronomical Discoveries”; Appendix F: P. T. Barnum on Locke’s “Moon Hoax” (1866).


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