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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 2018-03-29 03:45
Childhood favorite which came with me to the adulthood
The Mysterious Island - Caleb Carr,Jordan Stump,Jules Verne

Five Union prisoners escape from the siege of Richmond in a balloon, are blown off course and crash on an uncharted island. They must learn to rebuild a society for themselves while awaiting rescue.


Dear readers,

Even after living in the US for two decades, I cannot quite figure out whether Jules Vern is a popular writer here (or in any other country, really). I mean I do see his books occasionally when I walk in the Barnes and Noble, but none of my book buds seem to have him amongst their favorites. So I have no idea, but Jules Verne was quite popular in the Soviet Union when I was growing up. I first read a lot of his stories when I was very young and same as many of my favorite books that I read at that age, “Mysterious Island” traveled with me to my adulthood and I love it today as much as ever.

I love it because my heart went out to all the five men (well four men, and fifteen year old boy – when our story begins) who wanted to escape siege of Richmond and who were ready to risk anything for that and possibly even their lives. And they escaped all right – to the island where nobody else was living, they had to throw in the ocean their meager possessions they managed to take with them before they run, so when they crashed they had nothing with them. They only had their strength, bravery, intelligence and their quickly formed friendship to survive together.

Of course the writer helped them out a lot by making sure the island had a lot of natural resources. A lot of them! However, they literally had to build so many things from scratch and their hard work (and engineering knowledge of the man who became their leader) was a big part of their success.

I have read some answers to the questions and some reviews of the book at Goodreads, because I really was interested in the opinions of those who actually read the book.

First and foremost there are two books that have some characters in common with this book. “In Search of the Castaways” and “Twenty Thousands Leagues Under the Sea” should be read *before* this book regardless of when Verne wrote those two.  These three books connected very loosely, they do not tell you the same continuous story as the normal trilogy would, however, the story of one character from “Search of Castaways” and the story of one character from “Twenty Thousands Leagues” gets satisfying conclusion ( for me) in “Mysterious Island”.

 Some reviews compared the story with “Robinson Cruzo”.  I agree that comparison works – if for no other reason then only because it is also a story of survival at the uninhabited island.  However, I also liked this book so much better than Robinson. I read Robinson but never had any desire to reread it and I think the main reason was because these men had each other, they supported each other, sacrificed for each other and worked together to make the island where they crashed good place to live in.  They had no reason to think that they would ever leave it after all.

Another review of the book I have read basically stated it was boring because there was not much plot. I do not agree with it, however I think I can *see* how somebody else can view this book as boring, because a lot of the plot describes the work men did , be it building the place for the animals they tamed, or making clothing for themselves, or gardening. The work together occupies a lot of page space for sure.

But this is not all our colonists did, not at all! They got to save a life, they had to battle pirates, they kept saving each other from various dangers and they got to discover the secret that their Island had.

I always love a redemption story too and for one of the characters the book told such a story.

I have almost a sentimental attachment to this book. Not all childhood favorites survived the rereads, but this one did and I remember reading this book to my brother before bed when he was four and I was eight, so please understand that even though I am giving it the highest grade, I am aware of the issues the book may have for other readers.

First and foremost there are no women in this story. I was not bothered by that, because it made sense to me, but if you do not want to read the book with only male characters, this is not a book for you.

I also read that Jules Verne did not do a very good job describing the Richmond of 1865, but I would not know one way or another, just something to keep in mind.

Also, one of the characters is a Black guy who was initially a slave. The former owner freed Nab long time ago, but Nab decided to stay and be a free servant because he loved this guy so much. I do not feel qualified to decide if his portrayal was problematic. I do think that Nab is portrayed in the same very sympathetic way as other main characters, but if it bothers you that he chose to stay with his former owner, one more time, just beware.

Grade: A

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review 2018-01-28 17:57
Mathias Sandorf - Jules Verne

« Entrez donc ! Entrez donc ! Suivez le monde ! répétait en s’époumonant le pauvre Pescade. Vous verrez là ce que vous n’avez jamais vu ! Pointe Pescade et Cap Matifou aux prises ! Les deux jumeaux de la Provence ! Oui… deux jumeaux… mais pas du même âge… ni de la même mère !… Hein ! comme nous nous ressemblons… moi surtout ! »

« Qu’est-ce que ce docteur Antékirtt ?
– Un fameux médecin ! Il vous guérit de toutes les maladies, même de celles qui viennent de vous emporter dans l’autre monde !
– Est-il riche ?
– Pas le sou !… C’est moi, Pescade, qui lui donne son prêt tous les dimanches !
– Mais d’où vient-il ?
– D’un pays dont personne ne sait le nom !
– Et où est-il situé, ce pays-là ?
– Tout ce que je puis dire, c’est qu’il est borné, au nord, par pas grand chose, et, au sud, par rien du tout ! »

À ce moment, le docteur ferma les yeux du jeune mort ; puis, il se releva, quitta la chambre, et on aurait pu l’entendre murmurer cette sentence, empruntée aux légendes indiennes :
« La mort ne détruit pas, elle ne rend qu’invisible ! »

Dix minutes après, pendant que la lutte continuait de part et d’autre, Cap Matifou reparut, poussant devant lui une grosse boule de neige. Puis, au milieu des blocs que les marins continuaient à précipiter sur les assaillants, il lança cette boule, qui roula sur le talus, passa à travers la bande de Zirone, et s’arrêta, cinquante pas en arrière, au fond d’une petite dépression de terrain. Alors, à demi-brisée par le choc, la boule s’ouvrit et donna passage à un être vif, alerte, «quelque peu malin » comme il le disait de lui-même. C’était Pointe Pescade. Enfermé dans cette carapace de neige durcie, il avait osé se faire lancer sur les pentes du talus, au risque d’être précipité au fond de quelque abîme. Et, libre maintenant, il dévalait les sentiers du massif en gagnant du côté de Cassone. Il était alors minuit et demi. À ce moment, le docteur, ne voyant plus Pointe Pescade, craignit qu’il ne fût blessé. Il l’appela.
« Parti ! dit Cap Matifou.
– Parti ?
– Oui !… pour aller chercher du secours !
– Et comment ?
– En boule ! »
Cap Matifou raconta ce que Pointe Pescade venait de faire.
« Ah ! le brave garçon !… s’écria le docteur. Du courage, mes amis, du courage !… Ils ne nous auront pas, ces bandits ! »

« Pour réussir au jeu, monsieur, il faut s’appliquer à perdre les petits coups et à gagner les gros ! Tout le secret est là ! »

La plus solide de ces vigoureuses bêtes, cependant, restait quelquefois en arrière. Il n’aurait pas fallu la mésestimer pour cela : elle portait Cap Matifou. Ce qui amenait Pointe Pescade à faire cette réflexion :
« Peut-être eût-il été préférable que Cap Matifou portât la mule, au lieu que la mule portât Cap Matifou ! »

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