Vol 22 (2019)

The Illustrator and the Global Wars to Come: Albert Robida, La guerre infernale, and the Long History of Imagined Warfare

Giulia Iannuzzi
Università di Firenze – Università di Trieste

Published 2020-05-29


  • History of Time,
  • Future Wars,
  • Early Speculative Fiction,
  • Albert Robida,
  • La guerre infernale


This essay, accompanying and drawing on the publication of seven original sketches made by Albert Robida for Pierre Giffard’s feuilleton La guerre infernale (1908), locates Robida’s work within a broader history of imagined future wars between the late modern and the early contemporary age.

To foster a better understanding of Robida’s case and of the future-war sub-genre in coeval times, attention is devoted to the birth and establishment of a malleable future as a fictional setting for reflections on technology, warfare, and society. Furthermore, a close reading of Robida’s work helps to shed new light on the ideological strategies and representation practices shared by great international exhibitions and fiction narratives in the building of a hierarchized historical time, and the role of future-war narratives in shaping a globalized mind-set near the end of the nineteenth century.

La guerre infernale case study is thus located against the backdrop of coeval representations of war and violence in European mass media, and as part of the long history of wars to come.