Thursday, July 19, 2018

In search of In Search of the Castaways

My son has been reading Verne’s In Search of the Castaways (Captain Grant’s Children, Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant) on his Kindle, one of the favorite books from my childhood (I read it in Polish translation). He was resting at the gym and forgot his Kindle, so I loaded up a version from Project Gutenberg, and to his puzzlement he found it had material that the version he had on his Kindle—also from Gutenberg—was missing. So he had me investigate which version was more faithful to the French. Turns out both versions were abridged, but differently so.

According to Wikipedia, in 1876, Routledge produced what sounded like a three volume unabridged version, but it seems difficult to find a copy of it, unless one is willing to pay $50 per volume.

Finally, our library catalog turned up pdfs of volumes 2 and 3 on Hathitrust. (Annoyingly, to download volume 2, I had to login as part of a member institution, even though the catalog explicitly marks it as public domain.) After getting volumes 2 and 3 on Hathitrust, I had some more ideas what to look for in Google Books and found volumes 1 and 2 there.

For any other Verne fans, here are the links to the three volumes of the Routledge edition, all in one place:

I don't know for sure that these are unabridged, but the beginning of my son's test chapter (XVII of Volume 1) seems to have material from both of the abridged versions (one published by Lippincott in 1874 and one edited by Horne n.d.). Sadly, the three Routledge volumes do not say who the translator is, so I can't give credit to someone who deserves it (textually, it looks like the 1876 Routledge edition was the basis for the Horne abridged version).


Brandon said...

This is a very common problem with Verne's works. In the Bibliography to my Wesleyan UP edition of The Begum's Millions, which gives the scholarly assessment of all the major English translations of all of Verne's works, the Routledge edition of Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant is recommended; that usually means it is at least unabridged, although sometimes it just means the least bad of all the available ones. (They also don't know who the translator is.)

Alexander R Pruss said...

It's also really, really hard to find good translations of popular 19th century stuff on Amazon when the book hasn't had a good scholarly edition, because it's not clear who the translator is and the formatting is sometimes terrible.

I got so frustrated trying to find a good English edition of Sienkiewicz's _Deluge_ for my kids--all I could find were print-on-demand versions by people who did things like omitted maps, screwed up formatting, and/or had line lengths that were unreadable, etc.--that I spent several hours preparing my own print-on-demand version and putting it on Amazon (volume 1: and volume 2: ).

Besides my ordering the page proofs, nobody has bought a copy, but at least my kids now have a nicely formatted version.

Philip Rand said...

Abebooks will solve all your book issues... time to leave the Amazonian swamp and get to civilisation...

Alexander R Pruss said...

There are many entries on Abebooks which do not give much in the way of information on the precise features of the edition. But on the bright side, there are enough entries which do give enough information. Thanks for the tip.

Alexander R Pruss said...

In the past, I would normally use