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review 2018-11-06 23:05
The Count of Chanteleine
The Count of Chanteleine: A Tale of the French Revolution - Jules Verne

I jumped at the chance of reading this book because I am still on a mission to read more stories by Jules Verne. 


This particular story is set during the French Revolution where the Count of Chanteleine is fighting for the country only to find out that his wife and daughter have been captured by the revolutionaries. The Count sets of to find them and keep them save. His efforts are too late for his wife who's already fallen victim to Madam Guillotine, so when he does manage to save his daughter, he goes to extreme efforts to hide her away and ensure her safety.


This is where the main part of the story sets in and this is also where the story turns into a bad daytime soap opera. 


Not one of Verne's best works.

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review 2018-09-25 07:23
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Around the World in Eighty Days (Oxford World's Classics) - Jules Verne

TITLE:  Around the World in Eighty Days


AUTHOR:  Jules Verne


TRANSLATOR:  William Butcher


DATE PUBLISHED:  2008 (reissue)


PUBLICATION:  Oxford World's Classics


FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780199552511



"With the words 'Here I am, gentlemen', Phileas Fogg snatches a day from the jaws of time to make one of literature's great entrances.


Fogg - still, repressed, English - assures the members of the exclusive Reform Club that he will circumnavigate the world in eighty days.  Together with an irrepressible Frenchman and an Indian beauty he slices through jungles and climbs over snowbound passes, even across an entire isthmus - only to get back five minutes late.  He confronts despair and suicide, but his Indian companion makes a new man of him, able to face even his club again.


William Butcher's stylish new translation of Around the World in Eighty Days moves as fast and as brilliantly as Fogg's epic journey.  This edition also presents important discoveries about Verne's manuscripts, his sources, and cultural references."



This is a fun, and occasionally nail-biting, romp around the World in 80 days - more or less.  Passepartout is a hilarious character that nicely complements Fogg's rather enigmatic personality.  William Butcher's translation is beautifully done, making it hard to tell that this is a translation from the original French.   All the extra goodies (introduction, notes, chronology, appendices) make this critical edition a treat.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-04 17:20
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne
The Extraordinary Journeys: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Oxford World's Classics) - Jules Verne

TITLE: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas


AUTHOR: Jules Verne


TRANSLATOR: William Butcher


EDITION: Oxford World's Classics


DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2009 (reissue)


FORMAT: Paperback


ISBN-13: 9780199539277



"French naturalist Dr Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus, a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience amongst the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo's mission is one of revenge—and his methods coldly efficient.

This new and unabridged translation by the father of Verne studies brilliantly conveys the novel's varying tones and range. This edition also presents important manuscript discoveries, together with previously unpublished information on Verne's artistic and scientific reference.




When a giant sea creatures starts sinking ships, Dr Aronnax (a marine biologist), his unflappable manservant Conceil, and hot tempered harpooner Ned Land, are invited to join the hunting parting in an attempt to catch it.  Well, things don't go as planned and they end up as the unwilling (sort of) guests of Captain Nemo. Thus commences the fascinating, fast paced, exciting, and at at times, terrifying adventures under the seas (with the occassional land expedition interrupted by cannibals) inside the Nautilus (which is in itself absolutely fascinating).  I love that Verne included such things as an underwater passage between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, Atlantis, pearl fishing, shark hunting, a journey to the South Pole, giant squid and a host of other wierd and wonderful experiences. The relationship between Captain Nemo and Dr Aronnax is particularly fascinating, as is the development of the relationships between the unwilling guests.  Conceil is at times amusing, even though he doesn't intend to be.  Dr Aronnax is a marine biologist so every organism he comes across gets mentioned and classified, along with an encyclopedia worth of facts.  This might annoy some readers, but they can just be skimmed over those bits, though they will miss out on the ocean panarama described.  


This is another Jules Verne novel that got butchered and abridged in translation.  This new unabridged translation by William Butcher aims to be faithful to the original French novel and makes use of both manuscripts Verne produced while working on this novel.  I found this translation to be well done, with the narrative flowing smoothly.  The book includes relevant notes, which are of great help when Verne refers to scholars, ships captains, local politics and other goodies.  This edition also has in interesting introduction which discusses certain aspects of the book, what Verne intended with this novel from letters to his publisher, the bits his publisher insisted he change (he was worried about offending the Russians), amongst others.  The extra information adds additional depth to the story and I'm pleased it was included.





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review 2018-08-22 11:29
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Oxford World's Classics) - William Butcher,Jules Verne

TITLE:  Journey to the Centre of the Earth


AUTHOR:  Jules Verne


TRANSLATOR:  William Butcher


EDITION:  Oxford World's Classics


DATE OF PUBLICATION:  2008 (reissue)


FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780199538072




"Now available in a new translation, this classic of nineteenth century French literature has been consistently praised for its style and its vision of the world. Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel travel across Iceland, and then down through an extinct crater toward a sunless sea where they enter a living past and are confronted with the origins of man. Exploring the prehistory of the globe, this novel can also be read as a psychological quest, for the journey itself is as important as arrival or discovery. Verne's distinctive combination of realism and Romanticism has marked figures as diverse as Sartre and Tournier, Mark Twain and Conan Doyle."



Journey to the Centre of the Earth is an exciting adventure story that is well plotted and fast paced with interesting characters.  This book revolves around the (sometimes nail-biting) subterreanean adventures of the excitable Professor Lidenbrock (who reminds me of the overly-energetic Alexander von Humboldt), his nephew Axel, and eventually the frightfully competent Icelander Hans.  The wonderously fantastical prehistoric and geological settings are beautifully described.  The story is fantastic, but neither full-out fantasy or science-fiction.  Everything described by Jules Verne in the book in terms of geology and natural history reflects the state of scientific knowledge at the time of writing (1864) - except (of course) the fantastical bits. 


From a variety of comments on the internet, apparently the previous English translations of this book have been butchered with insertions, omissions, name changes and clunky writing.  This new translation by William Butcher aims to be faithful to the original French novel.  I found this translation to be well done, with the narrative flowing smoothly.  It didn't read like a translation at all.  The book includes notes where relevant.  This edition also has in interesting introduction which discusses certain aspects of the book, as well as important aspects of Jules Verne's life.




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review 2018-08-01 19:51
Hector Servadac - Jules Verne

"Soyez tranquille, mon capitaine, dit Ben-Zouf. Il vivra, j’en réponds. Ces petits hommes-là, c’est tout nerfs ! J’en ai vu de plus secs que lui, et qui étaient revenus de plus loin !
– Et d’où étaient-ils revenus, Ben-Zouf ?
– D’Égypte, mon capitaine, dans une belle boîte peinturlurée !
– C’étaient des momies, imbécile !
– Comme vous dites, mon capitaine !"


"En finirons-nous ? demanda le professeur. Le volume d’une sphère…
– Est égal au produit de la surface… répondit Hector Servadac en tâtonnant, multiplié…
– Par le tiers du rayon, monsieur ! s’écria Palmyrin Rosette. Par le tiers du rayon ! Est-ce fini ?
– À peu près ! Le tiers du rayon de Gallia étant de cent vingt-trois, trois, trois, trois, trois, trois…
– Trois, trois, trois, trois… répéta Ben-Zouf, en parcourant la gamme des sons.
– Silence ! cria le professeur, sérieusement irrité. Contentez-vous des deux premières décimales, et négligez les autres.
– Je néglige, répondit Hector Servadac.



Un jour, le 12 octobre, Ben-Zouf, qui rôdait autour de la grande salle de Nina-Ruche, dans laquelle le professeur se trouvait en ce moment, l’entendit pousser un cri retentissant.
Ben-Zouf courut à lui.
"Vous vous êtes fait mal, sans doute ? lui demanda-t-il du ton dont il aurait dit : Comment vous portez-vous ?
– Eurêka ! te dis-je, eurêka !" répondit Palmyrin Rosette, qui trépignait comme un fou. Il y avait dans son transport à la fois du contentement et de la rage.
"Eurêka ? redit Ben-Zouf.
– Oui, eurêka ! Sais-tu ce que cela veut dire ?
– Non.
– Eh bien, va-t’en au diable !"
"Heureusement, pensa l’ordonnance, que lorsqu’il ne veut pas répondre, M. Rosette y met au moins des formes !"
Et il s’en alla, non au diable, mais trouver Hector Servadac.
"Mon capitaine, dit-il, il y a du nouveau.
– Qu’est-ce donc ?
– Le savant… eh bien ! il a « eurêké…".
– Il a trouvé !… s’écria le capitaine Servadac. Mais qu’a-t-il trouvé ?
– Cela, je ne le sais pas.
– Eh ! c’est ce qu’il faudrait précisément savoir !"

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