The Mysterious Island (Anglais) Relié – 10 septembre 2010
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|Relié, 10 septembre 2010||
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I had read portions of this classic for an advanced English Literature course, many years ago. I recently downloaded the Kindle version to read again in its entirety. This is a fairly long book (516 paperback pages) and I have to admit that I found it hard going at times.
The storyline is a classic juvenile adventure of courage in the face of adversity and survival from disaster. In March 1865 during the American Civil War, five men of assorted origins find themselves imprisoned in Richmond, Virginia, at the time under siege by the army of General Grant. They flee in a balloon that was intended to secure reinforcements for the Confederate cause, but had been left tethered in the main square, waiting for a break in the stormy weather. The five desperados, an energetic bunch between the ages of 15 and 45, include a top engineer (whose encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of science, chemistry, physics, industrial manufacture, geography etc. defies belief), his faithful black servant (a liberated slave who has chosen to remain devoted to his master), a very able young sailor, an intellectually-inclined but capable reporter, and a teenager who is (conveniently) an expert botanist, budding scientist and well up in natural history. The engineer's dog is also a superbly intelligent animal, endowed with almost magical powers.
I think this the key to enjoying this complex story: it needs to be read as an inspiring fairy tale, enriched with an unbelievable amount of detailed scientific content, probably valid for the period, but stretching belief for the modern reader.
The five fugitives miraculously survive a perilous ocean crossing in the balloon until the storm throws them on the shores of a remote, uninhabited little island. Since they were forced to chuck overboard all their possessions when their torn balloon was plunging out of control, they have only the clothes on their backs and a couple of watches. Over time, with incredible ingenuity and a remarkable amount of luck, they customize shelter, manufacture tools, gather supplies, and generally establish themselves on their temporary home, making judicious use of the natural flora and fauna. From the viewpoint of an animal lover, the constant slaughter of small and large animals to provide for their many needs is rather sickening, but one understands that they cannot survive on nuts and roots alone. It is also an interesting reflection of the mores of the times, when man was considered master and owner of all that nature had to offer. Alongside the practical details of their many projects runs a subtle, supernatural force (the mysterious in the title) which will in time determine the outcome.
Although hailed as a timeless classic, personally, I found the story too long and slow-moving to hold my attention. I disliked the arrogant idea that everything had to be rearranged to suit this small group (they plot to exterminate all wild animals that might pose a threat, even before being sure of their existence). Also so many aspects were simply too unrealistic: five men cooped up together in a cave, sometimes for days on end, who never have an argument or disagreement? Not once do they curse their fate, even after years of isolation, maintaining an unwavering good humour and optimistic outlook? They never get sick? They never miss female company?
Excruciatingly slow pace, one-dimensional characters and too many typos and editing issues. I admire and appreciate excellence in literature, old or new, but cannot pretend to have enjoyed reading the whole of this saga, hence my rating.
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
Details of survival and people caring for one another are the mainstay of thus novel, a combination of adventure and gentleness, tensions and success, mysteries and discovery.
Jules Verne is a bit of a slow read but I find his work to be satisfying. It is reading a classic. A dictionary of scientific terms in the areas of geography, botany, zoology, and geology seemed necessary at times.
People looking for a fairly long yet satisfying read will like this book. It is interesting to note that, in keeping with the moral writing styles of its time, there is no sexual suggestions. Indeed there are no women on this island nor the suggestion that they were even missed!
So get in your balloon and escape to "The Mysterious Island," for an interesting and different read.
I read this book back in high school, but only remembered a few high points, including the central mystery's resolution. Re-reading it now, and listening to the audio book, led me to re-evaluate it. Be aware that even though it was probably fairly progressive, when it was written, that description does not hold up today. Neither does some of the science, including how the hurricane moved. I also have to wonder if this book is where the idea of 'monkey butlers' came from.
Also, please note that this book is almost required reading for fans of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
For me, the most fascinating aspect of this book is that Jules Verne knew so much about science in 1874 that the colonists fantastic feats, although a little far-fetched, are believable in 2015. I found the conversation among the characters about the sustainability of coal energy to be particularly fascinating. How would Jules Verne feel to know that nearly 150 years later, we STILL rely on coal energy! At 500 Kindle pages, this was a lengthy read and at times it felt over-powered with detail. The painstaking process of creating their "Granite House" dwelling includes descriptions of the survey of the island for the best location, the search for the raw materials to make nitroglycerine, the manufacture of nitroglycerine, the preparation of the site, and the creation of instruments and tools to produce bricks and mortar to outfit their home with a hearth, etc. The day-to-day activity of exploring, building, cultivating, hunting, and animal herding is interrupted by a rescue of a castaway from the closest charted island and a battle with pirates.
Despite it's length and occasional tedium, I felt compelled to finish the book and stick with the colonists to learn their fate.
This book also contains one of the greatest twists that I have ever came across. It was one of the few times that the ending was 'given' to me through the clues throughout the book and I did not catch it. It went above and beyond my expectations for a free book.
In summary, this is one of Jules Verne's greatest books, and it is a real pity that it is not as know of this one as they do 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and some of his other more popular books. The Mysterious Island is a great read, and it is free, so I highly recommend that you read it. In my hundreds of books that I have read, I have never found one that is like this, it is one of the few great classics that are actually readable.