reviews

Resurrected book review: The Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne

Another book review from 2010! Enjoy more cheerful abuse of my capslock key.

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THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND BY JULES VERNE

AKA, LOST: 19TH CENTURY STYLE

Seriously, this was definitely the forerunner.  Five guys + a dog in a hot air balloon, crashing on an unknown island that’s going to do some seriously trippy stuff.

This is a book I read years and years ago – high school?  Maybe junior high.  I freaking loved it, and I’m loving it again.  Though I am just now realizing how lolarious the writing is.  I LOVE THE QUAINT, ABSURD, PRETENTIOUS WORDINESS OF 19TH CENTURY PROSE.  Oh, Verne.

And I am giggling endlessly over what Gary Stus ALL the characters are, they are all fresh-faced and noble, even the SAILOR and JOURNALIST.  (The jouranlist’s job is seriously glorified.  What a different era.)  It is even funnier that this takes place during the American Civil War and all the characters are staunch Unionists.  One random mention of a “violent Southerner,” lololol.

Proof of how ETERNALLY COURAGEOUS AND MANLY they are:

It was evident that these men were strong and able to face death. Not a murmur escaped their lips. They were determined to struggle to the last second to retard their fall, and they tried their last expedient. […]Then a voice was heard—the voice of a man whose heart knew no fear—responded to by others not less strong:

Although I am newly impressed that one of the five main characters is a NEGRO (to use the book’s description), and I have not yet detected any cringeworthy racism in his character depiction.  At first I was worried that his lines sounded idiotic, but then I realized no, Verne wrote all the characters’ dialogue that way.  Anyway, check out his introduction: “He was a man of thirty years, vigorous, agile, adroit, intelligent, quick, and self-possessed, sometimes ingenuous always smiling, ready and honest.”  Not bad, really.

[Blogger’s note from 2014: The depiction was definitely racist, and more so later on.]

By the way, I freaking love Verne’s character descriptions: “Thus, while possessing inventive genius, he had acquired manual dexterity, and his muscles showed remarkable firmness. He was as much a man of action as of study; he moved without effort, under the influence of a strong vitality and his sanguine temperament defied all misfortune.”  MUSCLES OF REMARKABLE FIRMNESS INDEED.

Another sample of the absurdly wordy and unnecessary prose which I delight in:

Every one knows the statical sensibility of a balloon. It is only necessary to relieve it of the lightest object in order to have it rise. The apparatus floating in air acts like a mathematical balance. One can readily understand, then, that when disencumbered of every weight relatively great, its upward movement will be sudden and considerable. It was thus in the present instance.

NO, REALLY, VERNE.  I’M PRETTY SURE EVEN PEOPLE IN YOUR TIME KNEW HOW BALLOONS WORKED.

I mean, seriously.  I miss the age in which you could actually publish a book called “The Mysterious Island.”  We have lost a precious era.

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