A Bibliography of Jules Verne Translations

By Jeffrey Smith: I’ve always enjoyed making lists of books, though with the internet and its copious bibliographies I don’t do near as many as I used to. I love my recent, handwritten Agatha Christie reading order one; I keep thinking I should type it up, except I like the handwritten one so much, with its arrows shifting the positions of books around.

Thinking about Jules Verne, with the new TV version of Around the World in Eighty Days about to start, I just bought the Wesleyan edition of Five Weeks in a Balloon, translated by Frederick Paul Walter – after researching what the good modern translations of Verne are. Verne has been abysmally translated into English over the years, but there’s been a push to correct that.

In the back of this edition, there is a bibliography of Verne’s work that includes lists of good translations and bad translations for each novel. I typed up a simplified version of just the recommended editions of the Voyages Extraordinaires for my own use, and then decided to share it here. This bibliography is from 2015, so reasonably up to date, though there might have been a few good translations since then.

If the recommended ones are old, I’ve marked them “best available” instead of “recommended,” figuring they still aren’t as good as a modern translation. And while my initial thought was that all the ones from the 1960s on were probably good, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Also, anything translated by I.O. Evans is an automatic don’t-buy; although he loved Verne’s work and thought he was providing a service by translating so many of his novels, and some of them might not be bad, they are spectacularly unreliable. Many of the later novels have no recommended versions at all.

[The list begins after the break.]

Jules Verne

Voyages Extraordinaires

Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863) – Recommended: Frederick Paul Walter (Wesleyan)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) – Recommended: Robert Baldick; William Butcher; Frederick Paul Walter (in Amazing Journeys: Five Visionary Classics, including Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, Circling the Moon, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas, and Around the World in Eighty Days)

From the Earth to the Moon (1865) – Recommended: Harold Salemson; Ron Miller; Walter James Miller; Frederick Paul Walter (in Amazing Journeys)

The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) – Recommended: William Butcher

In Search of the Castaways (1867-68) – also known as The Children of Captain Grant; Voyage Round the World: South America/Australia/New Zealand. Best available: 1876 Routledge edition, translator unknown

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869-70) – Recommended: Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter; William Butcher

Around the Moon (1870) – Recommended: Jacqueline and Robert Baldick; Harold Salemson; Frederick Paul Walker (in Amazing Journeys)

The Floating City (1871) – Best available: 1876 Routledge edition, translated by Henry Frith

Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in Southern Africa (1872) – Best available: 1877 Routledge edition, translated by Henry Frith

The Fur Country (1873) – Recommended: Edward Baxter

Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) – Recommended: William Butcher; Frederick Paul Walter (in Amazing Journeys)

A Fantasy of Doctor Ox (1874) – short story collection: A Fantasy of Doctor Ox; Master Zacharius; A Winter Amid the Ice; A Drama in the Air; Fortieth French Ascent of Mont Blanc. Recommended: Andrew Brown. Acceptable: 1874 translation by George M. Towle

The Mysterious Island (1874-75) – Recommended: Sidney Kravitz (Wesleyan); Jordan Stump

The Wreck of the Chancellor (1875) – Best available: 1875 translation by George M. Towle

Michael Strogoff (1876) – Best available: 1876 translation by W.H.G. Kingston and Julius Chambers

Off on a Comet (1877) – Recommended: Adam Roberts

The Underground City (1877) – Recommended: Sarah Crozier

Dick Sand; or a Captain at Fifteen (1878) – Best available: 1878 Munro edition, translator unknown

The Begum’s Millions (1879) – Recommended: Stanford L. Luce (Wesleyan)

The Tribulations of a Chinaman in China (1879) – Best available: 1879 translation by Virginia Champlin (Grace Virginia Lord)

The Steam House (1880) – Best available: 1880 translation by Agnes D. Kingston

The Giant Raft (1881) – Best available: 1882 translation by W.J. Gordon

The Green Ray (1882) – Recommended: Karen Loukes

An American Robinson Crusoe (1882) – aka The School for Crusoes – Best available: 1883 translation by J.C. Curtin

The Headstrong Turk (1883) – Best available: 1883 translation by J.C. Curtin

Archipelago on Fire (1884) – Best available: 1885 Munro edition, translator unknown

The Star of the South (1884) – Recommended: Stephen Gray

Mathias Sandorf (1885) – Recommended: Edward Brumgnach

Waif of the Cynthia (1885) – Best available: 1885 Munro edition, translator unknown

Robur the Conqueror (1886) – aka Clipper of the Clouds – Recommendation assumed: Alex Kirstukas (Wesleyan) – 2017 edition, so not listed in 2015 bibliography

Ticket No. 9672 (1886) – Best available: 1886 Munro edition translated by Laura E. Kendall

The Flight to France (1887)

North Against South (1887) – Best available: 1887 Sampson Low edition, translator unknown. There is also an 1887 Munro edition, translator unknown, that is neither recommended nor not recommended

A Two Years’ Vacation (1888) – Best available: 1889 Munro edition, translator unknown

The Earth Turned Upside Down (1889) – Recommended: Sophie Lewis

Family without a Name (1889) – Recommended: Edward Baxter

Caesar Cascabel (1890) – Best available: 1890 translation by A. Estoclet

Mistress Branican (1891) – Best available: 1891 translation by A. Estoclet

The Castle in Transylvania (1892) – aka The Castle of the Carpathians – Recommended: Charlotte Mandel

Claudius Bombarnac (1893)

P’tit-Bonhomme (1893) – aka Foundling Mick

Captain Antifer (1895)

The Floating Island (1895)

Facing the Flag (1896) – Best available: 1897 translation by Cashel Hoey

Clovis Dardentor (1896)

The Sphinx of the Ice Realm (1897) – Recommended: Frederick Paul Walter

The Mighty Orinoco (1898) – Recommendation assumed: Stanford L. Luce (Wesleyan) – when the bibliography lists only the Wesleyan edition, I’m guessing it’s a recommendation

The Will of an Eccentric (1899)

Their Island Home and The Castaways of the Flag (1900)

The Aerial Village (1901)

The Sea Serpent: The Yarns of Jean-Marie Cabidoulin (1901)

The Kip Brothers (1902) – Recommendation assumed: Stanford L. Luce (Wesleyan)

Travel Scholarships (1903) – Recommendation assumed: Teri J. Hernández (Wesleyan)

A Drama in Livonia (1904)

The Master of the World (1904) – Best available: 1914 translation by Cranstoun Metcalfe

Invasion of the Sea (1905) – Recommendation assumed: Edward Baxter (Wesleyan)

Posthumous books prepared by Jules Verne’s son, Michel:

The Lighthouse at the Edge of the World (1905)

The Golden Volcano (1906)

The Thompson Travel Agency (1907)

The Hunt for the Meteor (1908)

The Danube Pilot (1908)

The Survivors of the Jonathan (1909)

The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz (1910)

Yesterday and Tomorrow (1910) – short story collection: The Rat Family; Mr. Ray Sharp and Miss Me Flat; The Fate of Jean Morénas; The Humbug; In the Twenty-ninth Century: The Diary of an American Journalist in 2889; The Eternal Adam – Recommended: Evelyn Copeland (Adventures of the Rat Family, one story only)

The Barsac Mission (1919)

11 thoughts on “A Bibliography of Jules Verne Translations

  1. Credit for improving the list by including the illustrations totally goes to OGH. What I sent him was text only.

  2. Huge thanks for taking the time to share this with us! A good translation makes a big difference.

  3. Thanks! By the time I learned generally about the, cough, varied flaws of Verne-to-English — somewhere in the past 1-2 decades — I’d read (and re-read) Verne enough, give or take reading an annotated version. (The basement of the public library where I grew up had a 10-15 volume set of Verne which was one of the many kilobooks I consumed, growing up.) But this is enough to have me to re-approach, at least, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, and perhaps the Moon shot one.

  4. I must recommend “The Meteor Hunt.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Meteor-Hunt-Translation-Manuscript-Imagination/dp/0803296347

    It is also translated by Frederick Walter, who is all over Jeff Smith’s list.

    And there is an afterword with the sad history of the novel. Published after Verne’s death, his shitty son rewrote it.

    I read it about six years ago?

    I remember it as a fun read and liking the humor.

    Also, try the very short “Paris in the Twentieth Century.” It is as dark and gloomy as “The Meteor Hunt” is fun and romantic.

    http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Twentieth-Century-Jules-Verne/dp/034542039X

    I guess there is some type of significance that he wrote the “Paris in the Twentieth Century,” in his thirties; and “The Meteor Hunt” as an old man, so close to death, he did not live to see it published.

  5. Thanks! I read a lot of the old translations when I was a kid and wanted to find a good translation to try as an adult but Google completely failed me.

  6. Daniel Miller’s recommendation of The Meteor Hunt sent me back into the Wesleyan bibliography, and I found it not in the main section, but in “Rediscovered Works.” The posthumous works as rewritten by Michel are listed in the main section, with no comments on the value of English translations. The “rediscovered” versions are taken from Jules’s original manuscripts.

    There is much debate about the value of Michel’s contributions. He heavily rewrote the books that were published, so Jules’s original intent can’t be discerned. But it appears that Jules asked his son to contribute to novels that were published while the father was still alive, so some people feel that his versions of the posthumous novels are legitimate. I don’t know enough to weigh in.

    There are two series of translations of the Jules Verne manuscripts — so either unadulterated or unfinished, depending on your point of view. The North American Jules Verne Society publishes The Palik Series, which includes rare stories and plays that are mostly not part of the Voyages Extraordinaire (although there is a stage version of Around the World in Eighty Days among their offerings). Three of their books are:

    Shipwrecked Family — This early novel was rejected by his publisher, and he completely rewrote it as The Mysterious Island — translated by Sidney Kravitz

    Golden Danube — Jules version of the Michel *The Danube Pilot” — translated by Kieran M. O’Driscoll

    Vice, Redemption, and the Distant Colony — includes the first 4 1/2 chapters of Fact-Finding Mission, which Michel extended into the novel The Barsac Mission — translated by Kieran M. O’Driscoll

    Bison Books is from the University of Nebraska Press, and they also have been researching the original manuscripts.

    The Self-Propelled Island — listed above as The Floating Island — restored from the original manuscript, as the first English translation was censored for the bad things it said about England and America — translated by Marie-Therese Noiset

    Lighthouse at the End of the World — this and all following titles were posthumously rewritten by Michel; these are the Jules manuscripts — translated by William Butcher

    The Golden Volcano — translated by Edward Baxter

    The Meteor Hunt — translated by Frederick Paul Walker and William James Miller — Bison had originally published the 1909 translation of Michel’s version as The Chase of the Golden Meteor, but they’ve let that go out of print

    Magellania — Michel’s version was called The Survivors of the Jonathan — translated by Benjamin Ivry

    The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz — translated by Peter Schulman

  7. George Phillies: Yes, there are many alternate titles I left out. This is up there as North Against South. Every English edition of this seems to have a slightly different title, but Burbank the Northerner and Texar the Southerner are among them.

  8. So, nobody has translated Verne’s version of the Mutiny on the Bounty? I’ll have to give that a try…

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