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The Mysterious Island (Modern Library Classics (Mass Market)) [Mass Market Paperback]

Jules Verne , Caleb Carr (Introduction) , Jordan Stump (Translator)
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Aug 2004 Modern Library Classics (Mass Market)
Since 1917 The Modern Library prides itself as The modern Library of the world s Best Books . Featuring introductions by leading writers, stunning translations, scholarly endnotes and reading group guides. Production values emphasize superior quality and readability. Competitive prices, coupled with exciting cover design make these an ideal gift to be cherished by the avid reader. Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne s masterpiece. Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive as they uncover the island s secret.

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc; Reprint edition (2 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972122
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 10.6 x 17.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 729,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jules Verne was born in Nantes in 1828, the eldest of five children
of a prosperous family claiming French, Breton, and Scottish
ancestry. His early years were happy apart from an unfulfilled
passion for his cousin Caroline. Literature always attracted him
and while taking a law degree in Paris he wrote a number of plays.
His first book, about a journey to Scotland, was not published
during his lifetime. However, in 1862, Five Weeks in a Balloon was
accepted by the publisher Hetzel, becoming an immediate success.
It was followed by Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Twenty
Thousand Leagues under the Seas, Around the World in Eighty Days,
and sixty other novels, covering the whole world (and below
and beyond). Verne himself travelled over three continents, before
suddenly selling his yacht in 1886. Eight of the books appeared after
his death in 1905--although they were in fact written partly by his
son, Michel.

Product Description

About the Author

Jordan Stump (Translator) is an associate professor of French at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and translator of more than half a dozen French novels. His translation of Nobel Prize winning novelist Claude Simon s Le jardin des plantes won the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for 2001. Caleb Carr (Introduction) is the bestselling author of The Alienist and, most recently, The Lessons of Terror. He lives in New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A note of caution 31 Mar 2006
By A.J.
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This particular edition features an introduction written by one Caleb Carr. The first thing I must do is confess that I myself have never taken it upon me to write even something close to an introduction for a novel, but despite this lack of experience in this field I have always been under the firm impression that it is quite common practice that among the guide-lines in doing so would be at least to NOT give away the entire plot of the book in a few sentences.
What was Mr. Carr thinking? I mean, it's *only* the title of the book itself that indicates what is at the heart of this story, and it's this mysterious aspect of the island that keeps the suspense of the story intact until the last few chapters. I for one wouldn't have seen it coming if it hadn't been for glancing through the introductory words, which shatter the 'mystery' aspect of this novel in a stupendously effective manner.
This is an excellent read indeed, as long as one keeps in mind that 'Introduction' should read 'Epilogue' instead.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I had been there 19 Aug 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I should start by saying that this is my favourite Jules Verne novel. The story concerns a group of men who find themselves stranded on a remote island after their baloon crash lands. Once on the island they soon realise that if they are going to survive it is going to be because of their own actions and ingenuity. Verne shows what a group of people can achieve starting from nothing. The group manage to create everything they could ever need from the natural materials that the island provides. It is fascinating learning how everything is made and how the different degrees of civilisation they create affect the inhabitants. Everytime they create something new that adds a bit more comfort to their lives, we as readers share that comfort.
Perhaps my only worry about the book would be that the group of men that are stranded are the best examples of human nature, but by having them all as decent, intelligent people Verne shows just what fantastic things human kind can create. If you enjoy this book it might be worth you ready Verne's Among the Cannibals. This book details the past life of one of the characters in the Mysterious Island.
Another strength to this novel is the return of one of Verne's greatest characters but I shall not say anymore about that as I would not want to spoil any surprise. The book is uplifting, interesting and may just help you if you get stuck on some speck of land in the middle of the ocean.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 2 April 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jules Verne not only opens up the minds of readers but also sends us in our own world of adventure. To think that he lives many centuries ago and have come up with ideas that are still being put in to action today is amazing. Read all his books, all are equally good. ^_^
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Verne's best 9 Nov 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Quite brilliant. For what it is, a 700 page tale of some men stranded on a desert island, it is surprisingly captivating. There is some slight repetition and some of the earlier animal hunting scenes are not necessarily to my taste, but the general educational value of how to get by when one falls on hard times is something I would recommend to any schoolkid. *slight spoiler* The very politically-incorrect scenes where Joop first arrives (although he's rather like a Jar Jar Binks kind of character) are amusing in a strange anachronistic way given how times have changed. There is also an obvious, probably intentional, lack of mention about the mainland, at what has happened to these people, especially from wives, sisters, girlfriends. There seems hardly ever to be a feminine character or mention of one in any of Verne's books and with this being such a long tale, it seems somehow unnatural. Perhaps it's just Verne's way to avoid a pointlessly-dreary love story inclusion? Despite these minor drawbacks, this is still definitely one of Verne's best.

NOTE: Avoid reading the introduction by Caleb Carr, who like a shameless and inconsiderate spotlight-grabber, knowing his introduction would be printed ahead of 'the main feature', indulges himself in lengthy nitpicking and revealing of all the pertinent plot details thus completely spoiling any mystery in the classic that is to come thereafter - i.e. the reason the reader bought the book. It turns out that Carr is an American military afficionado with no more insight in writing the introduction to this book than he might have for The Cat In The Hat. Printed at the end, his comments may have been halfway welcome. At the beginning, they are most unwelcome.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A testament to humanity 22 Jun 2005
By Frikle - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Mysterious Island is the third book in a trilogy by Verne (the 1st being In Search of the Castaways and the 2nd the famous 20000 Leagues Under the Sea). I think it's by far the best of the three - it's one of my favourites of Verne and makes the other 2 look completely superficial. It was one of my favourites as a child but now I really want to read it as an adult as I think it will be even better.

A bunch of people fighting on the side of the abolisionists in the US Civil War escape a siege on a hot air balloon. They're blown off course and are shipwrecked on a deserted island on the Pacific. However, Verne takes an optimistic approach to the story (of course it helps that the 5 or so people are all quite good at one thing or another). Over the period of their stay, they "conquer" the island as they build what is literally a civilisation with their bare hands. What follows is a story of redemption, struggle and the amazing parts of the human spirit (ones most people never get to see outside of extreme circumstances), as well as the heroes' hunt for the secret of the island.

In many other books, Verne describes scenery or nature for pages and pages which can get tiresome. But never here, for here he is singing a sublime ode to inventiveness as our heroes' knowledge of everything from chemistry to astronomy to the humanities is turned to use. This is an adventure book but it's much more deep than most adventure books - you can really tell that Verne was writing in an era of the belief in progress (the modern reader will probably have a very different attitude to nature than the author) and this book is the immortal tale of the best human nature has to offer, all against a backdrop of action.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not So Mysterious Thanks To Caleb Carr 29 Mar 2003
By Scorpio69 - Published on
I had never read Jules Verne's wonderful book, The Mysterious Island. I was delighted that there was a new translation available, so I happily bought a copy and dove into it.
Imagine my shock and disappointment to find, in reading Caleb Carr's introduction, that he tells me the secret of the island! I could have reached through the pages and slapped him silly! My heart just sank. It was like reading a movie review of the Sixth Sense that flat out tells you the twist in the story! Thus, all through the book, I knew what the colonists did not. I felt cheated. Even in the short introductory piece on Jules Verne there is vital information given that is best avoided unless you have already read the book. My advice to you is to go straight to Chapter 1 and skip all the preliminaries until you have finished the book.
With that caveat, I just loved the book. Jordan Stump's translation is breezy reading, which makes this 600+ page book just glide by. The colonists, which is what they become after crash landing on the island, are all "upright, energetic, and bound by brotherly affection". These are not a bunch of modern hunky narcissists or brooding, introspective hand-wringers, my friends. These are men of good cheer who, with faith in one another and a healthy respect for the Almighty, turn this most fascinating (and surely improbable) island into a new land.
This takes place in a time when the world itself still held mystery and adventure, and there was a boundless optimism in what man could achieve when honest and civilized men pooled their efforts and added a little scientific knowledge to their endeavors (well, a lot, actually). Most certainly, because of the time in which it was written, it is not politically correct. The "negro" Neb, though a free man, still calls Cyrus Smith "Master". However, there is every indication that Neb was given equal and fraternal treatment and was respected by all, blunting somewhat the inherent offensiveness of such a situation to modern readers.
In the end, this is a rich and wonderful story that, with this new translation, is a joy to read and a treasure to keep.
Caleb Carr does deserve a trip to the woodshed, however.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Novel even for Verne 13 Oct 2005
By Doug - Haydn Fan - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This new translation lifts the book to a higher level - there is very little about Verne's writing that can be described as dated or boring. Even that redoutable master of brilliant and modern-reading prose, Wilkie Collins, cannot keep up with Verne at his best. How so much seemingly tedious description is lifted to this level of fluidity - flat out amazing.
Verne's genius for what we today call Science Fiction sometimes obscures his even greater gift, for pure narrative. And with the Mysterious Island in this new translation his talent is on full display. Verne creates with this island an entire new world, a sort of Eden, and within this landscape plays out an entirely breathtaking story. Lingering in the backdrop, Verne's embittered alter ego Nemo balances the one-sided idealism of the castaways. On a scale with the Count of Monte Cristo, and the literary culmination of the enlightenment/scientific shipwrecked theme,(versus the 'humans are animals Lord of the Flies alternative), the Mysterious Island builds steadily to a tremendous finish.
When we read 19th century fiction much of the time phrases and scenes are flat, stale; even the best writers, Dickens, or Trollope, Balzac or Hawthorne, have streches of writing that just doesn't read as anything but dated. But Verne's best books, and this certainly is one of them, are as remarkable for their uncluttered fine prose writing as they are for their famous plots and explorations.
If Verne was no great creator of character, he makes up for it by some of the most eminently readable works ever penned.
A wonderful book for reading during a cold long winter weekend.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting 19th century heroic adventure! 13 Jun 2005
By Paul Weiss - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Five intrepid souls - typical Victorian "men's men" all - imprisoned in Richmond by the North's siege of the city during the American Civil War, band together in a daring escape attempt - the theft of a hot air balloon grounded by a horrific summer storm. The five men - Cyrus Harding, an abolitionist and distinguished captain in Grant's army with Neb, his negro manservant; Gideon Spilett, dauntless war correspondent for the New York Herald; Pencroft, a dashing businessman from the North and former sailor trapped in Richmond by the siege; and his young friend, Herbert Brown - plus Harding's loving dog, Top, are lofted high into the sky by the powerful storm, blown thousand of miles from Richmond and brutally dashed onto the shores of an uncharted island somewhere deep in the southern hemisphere.

The tale unfolds as a straightforward dramatic adventure outlining the trials and tribulations of our five heroes. We are witness to their amazing transformation from prisoners, to castaways, to explorers, to pioneers and, finally, through a combination of intrepid daring, perseverance, cunning, ingenuity, derring-do, and eclectic scientific know-how, to comfortable, established colonists and citizens of their tropical paradise. Quite aptly, they've christened it "Lincoln Island". That Verne allowed himself the luxury of creating characters that were the very model of goodwill and cooperation can be overlooked. That Cyrus Harding, as an engineer, and Herbert Brown, as a young naturalist, had collective instant recall of virtually the world's accumulated scientific knowledge and a great deal of arcana besides was pushing the limits even for a story like this. But, what the heck - The Mysterious Island was intended as a "feel good" adventure, after all. My suggestion to help the reader get past this credibility factor problem is to allow Verne's tale to stand-in as a representative microcosm of the perils facing any group of courageous immigrants colonizing a strange land starting with nothing more than the clothes on their back and their wits. I'm sure you'll set the book down feeling no less than awestruck at the achievements that a successful flourishing colony represents.

As a historical aside, it was with no small amount of horror and disgust that I realized that Spilett's and Pencroft's complete and utter disdain and lack of consideration for the ecology of their island was probably entirely representative of Europe's attitude to these issues in the late 19th century. For example:

" ... Gideon Spilett and Herbert one day saw an animal which resembled a jaguar. Happily the creature did not attack them, or they might not have escaped without a severe wound. As soon as he could get a regular weapon, that is to say, one of the guns which Pencroft begged for, Gideon Spilett resolved to make desperate war against the ferocious beasts, and exterminate them from the island." And "If the island is inhabited by wild beasts, we must think how to fight with and determine how to exterminate them. A time may come when this will be our first duty."

Ironically, despite their crystal clear certainty about their ability to exterminate a species under a planned program of attack, they were completely blind about the potential inability of another species to last forever as a food resource. To wit:

" ... commonly known by the name of American Rabbits. This product of the chase was brought back to Granite House and figured at the evening repast. The tenants of the warren were not at all to be despised, for they were delicious. It was a valuable resource of the colony and it appeared to be inexhaustible."

That said, the book was clearly a child of its times and, as such, the attitudes which we have hopefully left behind us can now be overlooked and accepted as historical artifacts. As an adventure story, it succeeds well and Ray Harryhausen chose well to build an exciting adventure film around it. The Mysterious Island unquestionably deserves a place on your reading list.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous translation 17 Nov 2006
By Scott C. Locklin - Published on
In one of those odd coincidences, there hasn't been an english translation of this book in about 100 years, but two came out in 2000/1. One is actually available online: it was done as a labor of love by a retired

engineer. I didn't like his prose style, and found that he actively

mistranslated a crucial section to make it politically correct (Nemo's dying words were crucial and not nice ones). So I bought the english-professor's (Jordan) version. I enjoyed it.

Effectively, it was a "Swiss Family Robinson" type story, though it was rather more butt-kicking than that book. It was amusing to note how progressive Verne was in some ways, and how oddly backwards he was in others. For example, Neb (the former slave negro) was treated as a dignified man rather than a shucking and jiving type. However, Verne couldn't help but make jokes comparing him to the "half man" orangutang who became part of the family as well. Worth a looksie if you are a Verne fan. You have to understand what Verne is; he is a man of his time -you will be getting anarchic french Victorian-era technology-optimistic science fiction. If you're interested in that, this is a great introduction to it. If you're not, you'd probably be better off reading something else.

On a trip to Paris, my poking around the Verne themed metro station (a metro made up to look like a victorian submarine) inspired me to check out some Verne.
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