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The Mysterious Island


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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 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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