Depictions of the Deep: Illustrations in the Popular Press of Deep-Sea Animals from Jules Verne (1860’s) to William Beebe (1930’s) and beyond - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Arts et sciences Year : 2020

Depictions of the Deep: Illustrations in the Popular Press of Deep-Sea Animals from Jules Verne (1860’s) to William Beebe (1930’s) and beyond

Portrait des eaux profondes : Évolution des illustrations d’animaux des profondeurs dans la presse populaire, de Jules Verne (1860) à William Beebe (1930) jusqu’aujourd’hui

John Dolan

Abstract

Our vision of deep-sea life changed dramatically with the results of scientific explorations and study of the deep that began in the 1860's. Mythical monsters, epitomized by Jules Verne's giant octopus, gave way to mysterious landscapes inhabited by odd creatures actually dredged up from the deep. While we now know of the diversity and unusual life cycles of deep-sea creatures, visions of the deep as a world of monstrous creatures persists today in the popular press. Introduction Here are shown, in five 'chapters', changes in the depictions of deep-sea life in popular books and magazines. The time period covered is from the era of Jules Verne (1860's) to that of William Beebe (1930's) and to recent years. The major focus is on the period of the 1860's to the 1930's as it corresponds, firstly with early scientific exploration of the deep-sea, and secondly, growth in our knowledge of natural history of organisms in the deep-sea. Traditionally images such as those illustrating "20,000 Leagues under Sea" (and before) were of mythical monsters in the deep sea. With the first scientific explorations of the deep sea, from the 1860's-1920's, the existence of odd creatures became known. The deep-sea was then depicted as an eerie land of monstrous forms but about which little was known. Finally with the first systematic studies, including in situ observations by William Beebe, some of the natural history of deep-sea organisms became known. Organisms were then shown with their predator-prey relationships and depictions of life-cycle stages of deep-sea animals appeared. From the eras of Jules Verne to that of William Beebe, the imaginary monsters of the deep were gradually replaced by actual animals but of many with frightening shapes and unimaginable life cycles. Nonetheless, ferocious-looking and monstrous forms of the deep-sea still remain popular in contemporary works.
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hal-02486654 , version 1 (21-02-2020)

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John Dolan. Depictions of the Deep: Illustrations in the Popular Press of Deep-Sea Animals from Jules Verne (1860’s) to William Beebe (1930’s) and beyond. Arts et sciences , 2020, 4 (2), ⟨10.21494/ISTE.OP.2020.0475⟩. ⟨hal-02486654⟩
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