Jorge Luis Borges on Ray Bradbury (& John Wilkins & voyages to the Moon)

Ray Bradbury          /          Jorge Luis Borges

I have blogged previously on Borges's references to John Wilkins and artificial languages, also on Wilkins's other writings, in both English and Esperanto. Note this Esperanto post on Wilkins's writing of a voyage to the Moon:

John Wilkins (1614–1672) : artefarita lingvo & vojaĝo al Luno

Here is one translation of a related piece by Borges:

Preface to Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles", by Jorge Luis Borges

The translator is "Captain Wilder," who reproduces his translation with additional comments on the Ray Bradbury site.

There is an indirect reference to an interview, unrelated to Bradbury:

A Conversation With Jorge Luis Borges by Daniel Bourne (April 25, 1980) in Artful Dodge

See also Bradbury, Borges, and the Future of Media by Austin Allen (Big Think).

Returning to the linked "Wilder" translation: Borges begins not with Bradbury but with early writings about voyages to the moon, long before science fiction ("scientific romances") took shape in the 19th century:
"In the Second Century of our Era, Luciano de Samosata composed a truthful History, comprising, among other wonders, a description of the selenites who - according to the truthful historian - thread and comb metals and glass, put on and take off their eyes, drink air juice or squeezed air; in the early XVI century, Ludovico Ariosto imagined that a knight discovers on the Moon all that is lost on Earth, the tears and sighs of lovers, the time wasted in gambling, useless projects and unsatisfied longings. In the XVII Century, Kepler drafted a Somnium Astronomicum, that aspires to be the transcription of a book read in a dream, densely revealing in its pages the configuration and habits of the snakes of the Moon, that stay in deep caverns during the heat of the day and come out at dusk. Between the first and second of these imaginary trips there are thirteen hundred years, and between the second and the third, about a hundred; the first two are, however, irresponsible and free inventions and the third one is stalled by a thrive for credibility. The reason is clear. For Luciano and for Ariosto, a trip to the moon was a symbol or archetype of the impossible, as black feathered swans were for the Latin; for Kepler, it was already a possibility, as for us. Didn't John Wilkins, inventor of a universal language, publish in those years, his 'The Discovery of a World in the Moone: Or A Discourse Tending To Prove that 'tis probable there may be another habitable World in that Planet' with an appendix titled "The possibility of a passage thither"?

In the 'Attic Nights' of Aulo Gelio, one reads that Arquitas the Pythagoric manufactured a wooden pigeon that flew in the air; Wilkins predicts an analog or similar mechanism will take us, someday, to the moon. By its nature of anticipation of a possible or probable future, the 'Somnium Astronomicum' precedes, unless I am mistaken, the new narrative genre that Americans of the North label 'science-fiction' or 'sciencefiction' and of which these Chronicles are an admirable example.
For Wilkins himself on the Moon see:

A Journey to the Moon Possible [from The Discovery of a New World (1638)], in English Prose: Selections with Critical Introductions by Various Writers and General Introductions to Each Period; Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration; edited by Henry Craik (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916).

The Discovery of a World in the Moone: Or, A Discovrse Tending To Prove That ’Tis Probable There May Be Another Habitable World In That Planet. Printed by E.G. for Michael Sparke and Edward Forrest, 1638.

There are additional related links (in English) on the relevant Esperanto page:

Ebleco de Vojaĝo al la Luno (el La Eltrovo de Nova Mondo) de John Wilkins, tradukis William Auld

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