Mini-Reviews and Comparisons

of the several complete translations

 

The Annotated Jules Verne -- Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, edited by Walter James Miller, New American Library (out-of-print)

This is the book that informed me about incomplete translations of the work. It is Mercier Lewis's translation but the missing pieces have been filled in and the errors pointed out and corrected in side notes. The annotations provide technical, historical, and literary background as well, and there are numerous period illustrations. For me it is of more interest as a study tool than as a novel because the side note annotations distract me from the flow of the narrative.

 

 

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, illustrated and translated by Ron Miller, Unicorn Publishing (out-of-print)

Although this volume begins with the Lewis translation, Miller has corrected nearly all of the errors and has seamlessly added his own translations of the missing parts. The edition is very readable and richly illustrated with Miller's accurate drawings and paintings.

Click to purchase at lulu.com

Miller has made his 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea available as a print-on-demand book at lulu.com.  This version is a smaller format than the Unicorn edition, but contains all the original text with typos corrected.  He has produced new black and while illustrations based on the original illustrations.

Spider Web Art Gallery currently has some copies of this complete translation as well as two abridged children's editions. All are nicely illustrated with Miller's art. Click on the search icon at the gallery site and search for "Ron Miller". This will bring up a page with links to the books as well as some of Miller's paintings of various subjects.

 

Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, translated by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter, Naval Institute Press

This is a complete new translation. Footnotes annotate the text with explanations and expansions and there are a number of the original woodcut illustrations. The illustrations are large size and clearly rendered. This volume can easily be read as a novel and makes a nice gift. As I've said elsewhere this is my preferred in-print edition.

 

The Complete Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, translated by Emanuel J. Mickel, Indiana University Press (out-of-print)

This volume also includes explanatory notes and woodcut illustrations, but the translation seems spotty. For example there is a Lewis mistranslation in the chapter "Some Figures" that confuses the second hull with the keel. The misstatement is maintained in this translation, although the metric units have been restored. Some of the illustrations are small and some are less clearly rendered than the Naval Institute volume. The translation notes, however, avoid of some of the modern day slant found in Miller's notes in both the New American Library and Naval Institute editions.

 

Jules Verne -- Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, a new translation by William Butcher, Oxford World's Classics

I find this the most readable of the translations in its use of unobtrusive endnotes rather than foot or side notes. There are no illustrations. The translation is smooth although I take small issue with the use of mixed English and metric units in the text. A spot check with my 1883 Hetzel French volume shows meters where Butcher uses feet. The number conversions are correct. Butcher offers insight from two Verne manuscripts by noting their differences from the published work. In the physical description of the Nautilus one translation item is a large departure from the other volumes. Butcher translates the room after the galley as the "control room" rather than the "crew quarters" (in the chapter "All by Electricity"). He quotes a manuscript text that appears to elaborate on this room in his notes. Verne's words are "le poste de l'équipage". I am not a linguist, but, given the unpublished manuscript, I might translate this "crew station" which could imply a work place rather than berths. The text lists living accommodations for Nemo, Aronnax, perhaps for Ned Land and Conseil, and even a bathroom. I would expect Aronnax to note the living space for the crew if only because there are so many of them. I leave it to you to decide the validity of this translation detail.

 

20,000 Leagues under the Sea, translated by Anthony Bonner, Grosset & Dunlap Illustrated junior Library

This translation eluded me for a while because at first glance it appears to be an abridged children's edition, but it is a complete translation.  Spot checks indicated a number of Lewis's omissions restored and glaring errors corrected although at least one remains.  The several illustrations by Stephen Armes are nicely executed if somewhat strange, but for me there are too few of them.

 

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, a Definitive Modern Translation by William James Miller, Washington Square Press (out-of-print)

This 1965 volume includes William Miller's introduction discussing the novel as Verne conceived it and the deleterious effects of Mercier Lewis’ deletions, changes, and mistakes.  The translation itself is different from the Naval Institute version.  The volume is nicely illustrated in black and white with a number of stylish drawings by Walter Brooks.  The short afterward by Damon Knight is a mini-biography of Jules Verne.

 

The in-print translations are available from amazon.com. You can place an order easily via the individual links on the 20000 Leagues page.

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Updated 24 Feb 06