Mysterious Island by Jules Verne – a new translation by Jordan Stump
Introduction by Caleb Carr
Modern Library (2001)
ISBN – 0679642366
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? 😉 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!