From Interstellar to Poe

As per my previous post, I recently watched the film Interstellar. Turning today to my Penguin book of Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, instead of The Children’s Encyclopedia, I began where I’d left off a few days earlier with a tale called Hop-Frog. It’s the last in the Tales section in this particular publication.

Hop-Frog is a dwarf and a king’s jester, and you’d think such a tale would have little in common with a sci-fi film such as Interstellar, unless of course we deem the dying words of Professor Brand (played by Michael Cane) to be his final “jest”. I wasn’t thinking all that much of the film when I reached the second paragraph of the tale, and things changed with the word “Gargantua”.

In Interstellar, Gargantua is the name given to the black hole. In Poe’s tale he refers to Rabelais’s ‘Gargantua’ being in preference to the king, over the ‘Zadig’ of Voltaire, since over-niceties wearied him, and he liked a good laugh.

Not knowing who this Rabelais was, I turned to Wikipedia to learn that François Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer of fantasy and satire, and the ‘Gargantua and Pantagruel’ that Poe refers to tells of the adventures of two giants, rather than dwarfs; nice one Poe. As for Voltaire’s Zadig, I’ve read about Voltaire, and Zidig, I now learn, is a fictional philosopher in ancient Babylonia. According to Wikipedia, the novella ‘Zadig, or The Book of Fate’ written in 1747, presents human life as in the hands of a destiny beyond human control; one could say the same of such sci-fi films as Interstellar.

Back to the works of Poe and after the King and his band of seven men were chained together and thrust up into the sky (ceiling) and set on fire by the dwarf I moved on to the ‘Essays and Reviews’ section, and next to read was a piece about ‘Wyandotte’, or ‘The Hutted Knoll’.

Just four lines in and I’m at another reference to Interstellar, for a ‘Mr Cooper’ was the author of Wyandotte, and Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey is the lead character in Interstellar. As my Poe book informs me, James Fenimore Cooper also wrote ‘The Pathfinder’, Pathfinder not being sciency at all…

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