Mysterious Island by Jules Verne – a new translation by Jordan Stump
Introduction by Caleb Carr
Modern Library (2001)
English
ISBN – 0679642366
629 Pages

I was strolling through the stacks at my main branch library in Downtown Tampa the other day when I came across an old favorite of mine that I had not read since I was a child. It was the inimitable Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. However, it was a more modern translation by a fellow named Jordan Stump, who says in his translator’s preface to the book that he attempted to modernize the translation and yet remain faithful to Verne’s original intent and wordage. I’ve never read the original French, but I have read the old standard translation of this story originally done by Agnes Kinloch Kingston and W. H. G. Kingston back in 1875. It was the gold standard of translations for this story for many years. It’s probably the one you read as a child if you’re 40+ years old or so. I’d have to say, though, that I enjoyed this new translation immensely.

You probably remember the story from high school or, if you’re old enough, from seeing the 1961 movie that was rather loosely based on Verne’s story. It’s a simple plot. Four men, a boy, and a dog escape Confederate sequestration in the city of Richmond, Virginia by high-jacking a reconnaissance balloon during an epic hurricane. The winds aloft send the balloon all the way across the southern portion of the U.S., across the Gulf of Mexico, across Central America, and out into the middle of the South Pacific. Heck of a storm, huh? πŸ˜‰ The men survive the crash landing on a deserted island that, fortunately for them, has just about everything that anyone could ever want on it… except good-looking native girls. Can’t have everything, you know.

Anyway, the men spend their time improving their surroundings and fighting off the occasional pirate or two. They domesticate some of local flora and fauna, modify some of the geography to their liking, and construct many useful items for themselves along the way. It’s an epic survival adventure in the Robinson Crusoe tradition. And, of course, there are many unusual events that occur that form the mysteriousness of the Mysterious Island. You’ll have to read the book to find out how that turns out, though.

This is classic Verne, folks. Good stuff. If you haven’t read it since you were a young one, I highly recommend that you grab a copy from some online bookseller or check with your local library. It’s well worth the read. They don’t write ’em like this anymore.

Enjoy your reading time!

Later…

~Eric

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

6 responses »

  1. comhack says:

    Very nice!! I may have to read that one sometime. πŸ™‚

    • Jules Verne wrote many great books… 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, Around the World in Eighty Days, etc. He’s considered by many to be the father of speculative Science Fiction because many of his stories were ahead of their time, technologically speaking. If you’ve never read any of Verne’s stories, you’re missing out on some classic reading.

      • comhack says:

        Ah, I have read ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ and ‘Around the World in 80 days’ back in school but it has been a long time so I need to reread them again.

        • Yeah… actually, after reading this one, I’ve rekindled my love of Verne. I may re-read all his stuff over the next few months. I have him on my list of favorite authors at my local library. πŸ™‚

  2. Barnabyh says:

    Don’t think I’ve ever read this. Thanks for the idea.

    • Good stuff. However, keep in mind that this is 19th century literature, so it’s not going to read like a modern adventure novel. Times were different back then. πŸ™‚

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