“Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne


The Mysterious Island

This was the second book that I read on my phone, the first being “As I Died Laughing” by David Lloyd . I do have a bilingual (Georgian-English) copy of the book, but that version is highly abridged, and I’ve only managed to read the first couple of pages in Georgian with extreme difficulty and excessive use of Google Translate.

I read a lot of Jules Verne when I was 10 or 11, including “Mysterious Island“. This story has elements found in Jules Verne’s more famous works “Around the World in Eighty Days“, “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and “20 000 Leagues Under the Sea“.

5 men and a dog escape from a Confederate jail in the middle of the US Civil war in a balloon. These 5 are very resourceful Cyrus Harding (an engineer), Pencroft (a sailor), Gideon Spillet (a journalist), Neb (a freed slave) and Herbert (a young adolescent, Pencroft’s adopted son). They are blown by storms out into the South Pacific, jettison all the contents of the balloon, even the basket before arriving at a deserted island. There with nothing but the clothes they arrived in, by their ingenuity and the natural resources of the island they create a colony, which they call Lincoln Island.


the six castaways

This could be a manual for castaways, as the five tame animals, plant successively larger cornfields from one ear found in Herbert’s pocket, build a boat and even manufacture nitro-glycerine. The five are all hard working and there is very little conflict between them. Finding some sulphurate of iron, the engineer is quickly able to obtain sulphuric acid.

Sulphuric acid is one of the most frequently employed, and the manufacturing importance of a nation can be measured by the consumption which is made of it.

It is only 42% into the book that one of the characters (Pencroft) remarks: “I begin to think very curious things happen in Lincoln Island.” Harding seemed to have been mysteriously rescued, a sea creature died suddenly in a struggle with Top the dog and various other incidents suggested a beneficent being was overseeing their struggles.

Jules Verne is the third most translated author of all time, behind Disney Productions and Agatha Christie. Written in the eighteen sixties some of it jars with our own PC times. Neb is desrcibed as a negro and therefore should be naturally skilled at cooking. The wildlife of the island are exploited mercilessly, the jaguars driven to extinction and monkeys are killed with little conscience, though one, which they named Jup is made into their servant. Also noted was that “the Negro and the ape understood each other.

After Pencroft’s observation, a full two thirds of the way into a very descriptive book, the engineer and colony leader,  Harding also remarks:

My friends, I think it is my duty to call your attention to certain incidents which have occurred in the island,

This is a book that takes a long time to delve into the mystery of the mysterious island. The castaways spend a full three years on the island with their daily progress noted, along with descriptions of the changing seasons and many other minutiae. I also feel that when you have read one castaway novel, you have read them all, in that on Mysterious Island the castaways encounter similar problems to those faced by Robinson Crusoe or the Swiss Family Robinson.

My rating today would be 3 out of 5 (as a child it would have been higher)

Note: “Le voyage au centre de la terre” was the first book I ever read in French back in 1993.


About jimholroyd365

Hi, my name is Jim, I am an Englishman living in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. I started this blog to share my interests, my photos and to make sense of my world. I take a lot of photographs of various subjects, some of which I intend to share here. I collect diecast cars and get the same thrill at 50 as I did when I was 8, when I find a car I'm searching for, Don't worry, I have a separate blog for this hobby. Please feel free to comment and ask questions on what I blog. I am quite new to this blogging, I was inspired by reading a book, which began as a blog of a London Ambulance Driver: "Blood, Sweat and Tea". I hope my blog will be entertaining and amusing, I did try stand up comedy in the UK and had seven gigs before I left to teach English in Georgia. I love reading and so the blog will include book reviews of books as I finish them.I don't know about which direction this blog will go, I am a great believer in serendipity...let the journey begin...
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1 Response to “Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne

  1. Pingback: “Valhalla Rising” by Clive Cussler | jimholroyd365b

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