The Mysterious Island (French: L’Île mystérieuse) is a novel by Jules Verne, published in 1874.
The plot focuses on the adventures of five Americans on an uncharted island in the South Pacific. During the American Civil War, five northern prisoners of war decide to escape, during the siege of Richmond, Virginia, by hijacking a balloon.
The escapees are Cyrus Smith, a railroad engineer in the Union army (named Cyrus Harding in Kingston’s version); his ex-slave and loyal follower Neb (short for Nebuchadnezzar); Bonadventure Pencroff, a sailor (who is addressed only by his surname; in Kingston’s translation, he is named Pencroft); his protégé and adopted son Harbert Brown (called Herbert in some translations); and the journalist Gedéon Spilett (Gideon Spilett in English versions). The company is completed by Cyrus’ dog “Top.”
The original edition, published by Hetzel, contains a number of illustrations by Jules Férat. The novel is a crossover sequel to Verne’s famous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways, though its themes are vastly different from those books. An early draft of the novel, initially rejected by Verne’s publisher and wholly reconceived before publication, was titled Shipwrecked Family: Marooned With Uncle Robinson, seen as indicating the influence of the novels Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson. Verne developed a similar theme in his later novel, Godfrey Morgan (French: L’École des Robinsons, 1882)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jules Gabriel Verne (8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright.
He was born in the seaport of Nantes, he was trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as a lawyer, but quit the profession early in life to write for magazines and the stage. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages extraordinaires, a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).
Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation is markedly different in Anglophone regions, where he has often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children’s books, largely because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels are often reprinted.
Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare. He has sometimes been called the “Father of Science Fiction,” a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley, and Hugo Gernsback.