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Thread: "Erewhon", Samuel Butler, 1872

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    "Erewhon", Samuel Butler, 1872

    Author - Samuel Butler

    "Erewhon" on Wikipedia

    "Erewhon; Or, Over the Range by Samuel Butler" on

    "Erewhon" on

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    Translating to Russian language: "Нигдея" Ю. Г. Коновалов

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    CHAPTER XXII "The Colleges of Unreason Continued"

    It was during my stay in City of the Colleges of Unreason — a city whose
    Erewhonian name is so cacophonous that I refrain from giving it — that I
    learned the particulars of the revolution which had ended in the
    destruction of so many of the mechanical inventions which were formerly
    in common use.

    Mr. Thims took me to the rooms of a gentleman who had a great
    reputation for learning, but who was also, so Mr. Thims told me, rather a
    dangerous person, inasmuch as he had attempted to introduce an adverb
    into the hypothetical language. He had heard of my watch and been
    exceedingly anxious to see me, for he was accounted the most learned
    antiquary in Erewhon on the subject of mechanical lore. We fell to talking
    upon the subject, and when I left he gave me a reprinted copy of the work
    which brought the revolution about.

    It had taken place some five hundred years before my arrival: people had
    long become thoroughly used to the change, although at the time that it
    was made the country was plunged into the deepest misery, and a
    reaction which followed had very nearly proved successful. Civil war raged
    for many years, and is said to have reduced the number of the inhabitants
    by one-half. The parties were styled the machinists and the
    antimachinists, and in the end, as I have said already, the latter got the
    victory, treating their opponents with such unparalleled severity that they
    extirpated every trace of opposition.

    The wonder was that they allowed any mechanical appliances to remain in
    the kingdom, neither do I believe that they would have done so, had not
    the Professors of Inconsistency and Evasion made a stand against the
    carrying of the new principles to their legitimate conclusions. These
    Professors, moreover, insisted that during the struggle the anti-machinists
    should use every known improvement in the art of war, and several new
    weapons, offensive and defensive, were invented, while it was in progress.
    I was surprised at there remaining so many mechanical specimens as are
    seen in the museums, and at students having rediscovered their past uses
    so completely; for at the time of the revolution the victors wrecked all the
    more complicated machines, and burned all treatises on mechanics, and
    all engineers’ workshops—thus, so they thought, cutting the mischief out
    root and branch, at an incalculable cost of blood and treasure.

    Certainly they had not spared their labour, but work of this description can
    never be perfectly achieved, and when, some two hundred years before
    my arrival, all passion upon the subject had cooled down, and no one save
    a lunatic would have dreamed of reintroducing forbidden inventions, the
    subject came to be regarded as a curious antiquarian study, like that of
    some long-forgotten religious practices among ourselves. Then came the
    careful search for whatever fragments could be found, and for any
    machines that might have been hidden away, and also numberless
    treatises were written, showing what the functions of each rediscovered
    machine had been; all being done with no idea of using such machinery
    again, but with the feelings of an English antiquarian concerning Druidical
    monuments or flint arrow heads.

    On my return to the metropolis, during the remaining weeks or rather
    days of my sojourn in Erewhon I made a resume in English of the work
    which brought about the already mentioned revolution. My ignorance of
    technical terms has led me doubtless into many errors, and I have
    occasionally, where I found translation impossible, substituted purely
    English names and ideas for the original Erewhonian ones, but the reader
    may rely on my general accuracy. I have thought it best to insert my
    translation here.

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