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

Miller has made his 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea available as a print-on-demand book at  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.


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, likely just a modernerzation of Lewis' words rather than a new translation.  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 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 annotated translations because of its use of unobtrusive endnotes rather than foot or side notes. However the extensive endnotes are so interesting and informative that, if you read it through simply as a novel, the work merits a second reading with constant reference to the notes.  His translation is generally based on the illustrated octavo edition published in 1871, but in the notes Butcher refers to differing wording in two manuscripts of the novel.  These provide an insightful discussion of Verne's conception of the story and his publisher Hetzel's influence on the final text, primarily for commercial considerations - he did not want to offend large national groups of potential buyers in the international market. 
     (The updated translation and notes also address a question I raised about his use of "control room" for what is normally translated as "crew quarters" when I read the first edition.  The new translation uses "crew room" and the expanded notes provide background and insight about Verne's use of the French term in this and other works.  I
think "crew room" is a good choice, especially considering that in the period of the novel many maritime crew in fact slept at or near their work stations.)


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 You can place an order easily via the individual links on the 20000 Leagues page.

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Updated 24 Aug 19