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"SOME CURIOUS DRAWINGS". MARS THROUGH GIOVANNI SCHIAPARELLI'S EYES: BETWEEN SCIENCE AND FICTION

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<title> ABSTRACT </title>From the second half of the 19th century up to the first part of the 20th century the drawings of Mars by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli became the centre of an international controversy concerning the existence of canals and the hypothetical habitability of the red planet. These images also generated a full impact on the popular culture of the time. This essays follows the scientific representations of Mars by Schiaparelli (drawings of discs and maps) from their birth in the hands of the astronomy community up to their growing old in the hands of scientific popularizers such as Camille Flammarion and science fiction writers such as Herbert George Wells. With its seas and canyons Mars turned into the ideal background for scientific and exotic romanticism, offering a suitable setting for novels and tales. The core question crossed paths with the contemporary early 20th century debate raging on about the evolutionary theory. The study of Mars moved from astronomy to extraterrestrial physiology, biology, meteorology and geography: astronomical images then became imaginary portraits of Martians and artificial Martian landscapes.

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/content/journals/10.1163/182539109x00642
2009-01-01
2016-12-10

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