Dr. Ox's Experiment

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"Dr. Ox's Experiment" (French: Une fantaisie du docteur Ox, "A Fantasy of Doctor Ox")[1] is a short story by the French writer and pioneer of science-fiction, Jules Verne, published in 1872. It describes an experiment by one Dr. Ox and his assistant Gedeon Ygene. A prosperous scientist Dr. Ox offers to build a novel gas lighting system to an unusually stuffy Flemish town of Quiquendone. As the town bore no charges, the offer is gladly accepted. The hidden interest of Dr. Ox is however not lighting, but large scale experiment on effect of oxygen on plants, animals and humans. He uses electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The latter is being pumped to the city causing accelerated growth of plants, excitement and aggressiveness in animals and humans. The story ends up by destruction of the oxygen factory of Dr. Ox – by accident, oxygen and hydrogen got mixed causing a major explosion. Jules Verne acknowledges in the epilogue that the described effect of oxygen is a pure fiction invented by him.

The text was re-published in a Verne short-story anthology, Doctor Ox, in 1874.


The story was adapted by Jacques Offenbach as Le docteur Ox, an opéra-bouffe in three acts and six tableaux, premiered on 26 January 1877 with a libretto by Arnold Mortier, Philippe Gille and Verne himself. Annibale Bizzelli composed another version, il Dottor Oss.

It was also adapted by Gavin Bryars as Doctor Ox's Experiment, an opera in two acts with a libretto by Blake Morrison, first performed on 15 June 1998.


  1. ^ A Fantasy of Dr Ox, Jules Verne, trans. Andrew Browne, Hesperus Press, 2003

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