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The Mysterious Island (Modern Library Classics) Mass Market Paperback – April 27, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Wesleyan launches its "Early Classics of Science Fiction" line in style with this first English translation of Verne's 1904 novel Invasion of the Sea. The series will feature scholarly editions of popular sf works, with illustrations, bibliographies, textual notes, etc. Though long available in English, The Mysterious Island here receives a new and much more spry and exciting translation to replace the drab version that has been boring readers for years. This also features illustrations and an introduction by Caleb Carr.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“The reason Verne is still read by millions today is simply that he was one of the best storytellers who ever lived.” —Arthur C. Clarke
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972122
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mysterious Island is the third book in a trilogy by Verne (the 1st being In Search of the Castaways and the 2nd the famous 20000 Leagues Under the Sea). I think it's by far the best of the three - it's one of my favourites of Verne and makes the other 2 look completely superficial. It was one of my favourites as a child but now I really want to read it as an adult as I think it will be even better.

A bunch of people fighting on the side of the abolisionists in the US Civil War escape a siege on a hot air balloon. They're blown off course and are shipwrecked on a deserted island on the Pacific. However, Verne takes an optimistic approach to the story (of course it helps that the 5 or so people are all quite good at one thing or another). Over the period of their stay, they "conquer" the island as they build what is literally a civilisation with their bare hands. What follows is a story of redemption, struggle and the amazing parts of the human spirit (ones most people never get to see outside of extreme circumstances), as well as the heroes' hunt for the secret of the island.

In many other books, Verne describes scenery or nature for pages and pages which can get tiresome. But never here, for here he is singing a sublime ode to inventiveness as our heroes' knowledge of everything from chemistry to astronomy to the humanities is turned to use. This is an adventure book but it's much more deep than most adventure books - you can really tell that Verne was writing in an era of the belief in progress (the modern reader will probably have a very different attitude to nature than the author) and this book is the immortal tale of the best human nature has to offer, all against a backdrop of action.
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Format: Paperback
I had never read Jules Verne's wonderful book, The Mysterious Island. I was delighted that there was a new translation available, so I happily bought a copy and dove into it.
Imagine my shock and disappointment to find, in reading Caleb Carr's introduction, that he tells me the secret of the island! I could have reached through the pages and slapped him silly! My heart just sank. It was like reading a movie review of the Sixth Sense that flat out tells you the twist in the story! Thus, all through the book, I knew what the colonists did not. I felt cheated. Even in the short introductory piece on Jules Verne there is vital information given that is best avoided unless you have already read the book. My advice to you is to go straight to Chapter 1 and skip all the preliminaries until you have finished the book.
With that caveat, I just loved the book. Jordan Stump's translation is breezy reading, which makes this 600+ page book just glide by. The colonists, which is what they become after crash landing on the island, are all "upright, energetic, and bound by brotherly affection". These are not a bunch of modern hunky narcissists or brooding, introspective hand-wringers, my friends. These are men of good cheer who, with faith in one another and a healthy respect for the Almighty, turn this most fascinating (and surely improbable) island into a new land.
This takes place in a time when the world itself still held mystery and adventure, and there was a boundless optimism in what man could achieve when honest and civilized men pooled their efforts and added a little scientific knowledge to their endeavors (well, a lot, actually). Most certainly, because of the time in which it was written, it is not politically correct.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This new translation lifts the book to a higher level - there is very little about Verne's writing that can be described as dated or boring. Even that redoutable master of brilliant and modern-reading prose, Wilkie Collins, cannot keep up with Verne at his best. How so much seemingly tedious description is lifted to this level of fluidity - flat out amazing.
Verne's genius for what we today call Science Fiction sometimes obscures his even greater gift, for pure narrative. And with the Mysterious Island in this new translation his talent is on full display. Verne creates with this island an entire new world, a sort of Eden, and within this landscape plays out an entirely breathtaking story. Lingering in the backdrop, Verne's embittered alter ego Nemo balances the one-sided idealism of the castaways. On a scale with the Count of Monte Cristo, and the literary culmination of the enlightenment/scientific shipwrecked theme,(versus the 'humans are animals Lord of the Flies alternative), the Mysterious Island builds steadily to a tremendous finish.
When we read 19th century fiction much of the time phrases and scenes are flat, stale; even the best writers, Dickens, or Trollope, Balzac or Hawthorne, have streches of writing that just doesn't read as anything but dated. But Verne's best books, and this certainly is one of them, are as remarkable for their uncluttered fine prose writing as they are for their famous plots and explorations.
If Verne was no great creator of character, he makes up for it by some of the most eminently readable works ever penned.
A wonderful book for reading during a cold long winter weekend.
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