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The Mysterious Island (Early Classics of Science Fiction Series) Hardcover – Unabridged, February 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
The second title in Wesleyan's new Early Classics of Science Fiction series is Sidney Kravitz's translation (14 years in the making) of Jules Verne's castaway epic, The Mysterious Island. Like the new Modern Library edition (noted in Forecasts, Dec. 24), it boasts black-and-white illustrations and is unexpurgated; unlike it, this volume contains a Verne chronology and brief biography, endnotes, appendixes and information about previous translations.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Monoglot readers who rely on translators for access to masterpieces of foreign literature can be unwittingly shortchanged. As the editors here point out, the most common English translation of Verne's longest novel contains less than half the French text and omits Verne's thoughts on 19th-century society and its evolutionary possibilities. Now better known through its movie and comic book versions, The Mysterious Island was an important development in Verne's canon and contains the history and end of Captain Nemo, his most famous character. This new translation features all of the first edition's text as well as the original illustrations. Passages critical of both U.S. and English society are often deleted in modern versions, as are Verne's thoughts on racial and class issues, but Kravitz renders them here in full, restoring the novel to the 19th-century cultural milieu that Verne inhabited. With textual, chronological, bibliographical, and other appendixes, this is useful for scholarly collections but is recommended for all libraries. Shelley Cox, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
(There were real outrages. Remember Amritsar in the movie "Gandhi"? The aptly named General Dyer ordered the machine gunning of 1500 unarmed protesters.) Forgiveness is all well and good, but not on the basis of racism. I know that was in the spirit of the times, but I live in a time that is supposed to know better.
The exact nature of Captain Nemo's grievance was never clear, but it seems to have involved salt mines and cost him his entire family. I don't know that I could ever forgive or forget that. If someone had suggested that it served some higher purpose (it was probably driven by greed), I would have loved to have a submarine with a steel spur and go around punching holes in the offending nation's ships. Forgiveness requires the offender to admit his motives and actions have been less than admirable.
I've heard that Verne originally intended to make Captain Nemo a Polish nobleman suffering under Russian oppression, but Russia was too popular in France. Political correctness is nothing new.
Finally, that has been corrected. Sidney Kravitz invested 14 years of effort in creating a translation closer to what Verne intended, and in doing so has restored this book to the status it deserves. It is a great story, long and involved (Verne's longest novel) and mostly believable, even with the several whoopers resulting from Verne nodding. Forget those and just enjoy this saga, watch rational man and American know-how conquer and subdue a wild environment, forget the movies purporting to tell this story, and read on to find the answer to the mystery of the island.
All that is good stuff. The only bad thing is that this good translation is expensive and hard to find. As much as I wanted a hardback, I wimped out and bought a paperback edition. Seemed a wise move for someone who already has three other copies of this novel. One of these other copies is the Modern Library/Jordan Stump translation which, coincidentally, came out about the same time as Mr. Kravitz's. It, too, is worth reading and can be found more easily, and cheaply. One difference is that the Wesleyan/Kravitz edition has the full complement of engravings from the original French edition. As with most Verne novels, this is about an acre of art. The Modern Library edition leaves some out. A piddling difference, but I like those engravings; they provide a wonderful vintage atmosphere, despite their occasional shortcomings (a long snaky tail on Jup, the orangutan? Yikes!). The Wyeth illustrations in the Scribner's Classics edition (again the Kingston translation) are more polished and artistic, but I like the originals. De gustibus non est disputandum.
In fact, one of my kids is reading it right now and he can't put it down. Having read the abridged version of 20,000 Leagues before this, he can't believe why anyone would bother with the abridged editions.
Just a few words about this book. Besides the full translation and more than 30 pages of introductory materials, you get all the original 154 drawings found in the first French edition as well as images of the original covers. The translation quality is beyond reproach, the typeface is legible. If I have any issue with this edition, it's got to be the binding. The book is simply too massive to fit comfortably inside a paperback binding. I wish it was issued as a 2-volume set.
Oh, well... I am still VERY happy with what I got.