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The second Verne title is The Mysterious Island, first published in
1874 but until now unavailable in a complete translation. This novel was
originally entitled Uncle Robinson in manuscript, thus indicating the
tradition Verne was using. As the appendices by William Butcher demonstrate,
Verne was strongly
influenced by Defoe, Fenirnore Cooper, and particularly by Johann Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson (1812). Butcher further shows that the deserted island theme extended into other works by Verne. The introduction to this edition, also by Butcher, shows the extraordinary state of Verne’s translations in English. Although one by the novelist W.H.G. Kingston appeared as early as 1875, English versions had substantial passages cut from the original text. A full discussion of the manuscripts of this novel gives us an indication of its composition, and Butcher’s excellent introduction points out the many inconsistencies both in Verne’s attitude to progress and imperialism and within the text. Many factual discrepancies are noted, and Butcher points out that the reappearance of Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (1870) as a secret helper to the castaways on this island is actually inconsistent with his original appearance in the earlier novel. The textual apparatus for this novel is truly outstanding. The notes, for example, not only gloss obscure terms but also give a commentary on how Verne diverged from the robinsonade pattern.
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