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img306It is time for satire! Above is the Art Nouveau style cover of the French book, Les Evasions Celebres from 1902 published by the famous French publisher Hachette. Hachette published among other things, the Jules Verne Series, countless popular novels, and yes even some pseudo history and scientific works.img307On the back of the book with its red publisher’s linen cloth is the interlocking monogram with the initials HC for Hachette et Cie.


On the spine is a wonderful stylized flower. The binding is heavy carton. This is the type of book an adolescent in France or French speaking countries would read around the turn of the century. Applying the rules of a certain etiquette in writing and with moral persuasion, the youth would be on the road to a certain bourgeois manhood.

Sometimes, I wonder who the previous owner of a book we acquire was, and what else he or she read.

At times, we have a ready answer. This ex libris (shown above) in the armorial style indicates the book belonged to an Alexandre Orlowski.

Who was he? A scion of an old Polish or Russian refugee family? Of some spurious Noble descent?

The printing quality for which Hachette became famous is well done, well illustrated, and very representative of turn of the century style. A style, when large books with their impressive binding with raised letters, would be considered very apropos to any family library.

But this post is surely not only about a book from a century ago. It also tells us what boys or young men would read. The famous escape story does well in any language. It teaches courage and foolishness at the same time. Yet the world would not have survived without it. Let us have a look in a sort of allegorical way if some of these stories could be placed in a current situation. Perhaps, these stories are also about the courage, inventiveness and morals of an entire nation. So let us “replace” the sacrosanct story, as it was written in that book with something like this:

Is this an imaginary citizen escaping from the crushing weight of the tax system? Or, is it a Government leader escaping from his “Ivory Tower” in the dead of night before the citizens discover he has fleeced them and sent all their savings to Africa in an attempt to distribute the Wealth (Those of Others that is)?

Next, comes the story where the popular hero is stopped by Government Sanctioned Militia, a sort of DHS for those living now, who asks him “show us your papers” without the customary “please” and a weapon pointed at him to provide the necessary “weight” to the “request”.

The next plate would show the devastation left by the “foreign troops” in the service of the United States Government in case of “eventualities”, as it was recently presented in a communique by the Russian Press, and apparently signed by the US Government a few days ago, under the motto of mutual security surveillance at large events.

Those poor Russians must be lacking the bullets and that could be the reason the US Government is purchasing billions of hollow point rounds.

img322 Now, the last story is one of a real Hero or Nation. In the attempt to liberate themselves, has no choice but to cut off their own leg in order to free themselves from the proverbial chains. This story goes back all the way to the ancient Greeks, obsessed by morality and stoic behavior or so the story goes in French. How could a “millennial” group of young people, weened on Apple and Smartphones, Facebook and Twitter, even comprehend that some of these stories in the book really happened? Or are happening now?