Verniana — Jules Verne Studies / Etudes Jules Verne — Volume 1 (2008–2009) — 1–8

As Verne Smiles


Walter James Miller


In this piece, Walter James Miller describes the “resurrection” of Jules Verne among English-speaking countries and interviews five Vernian scholars about the current state of Verne’s reputation. He begins with the fact that, in an effort to profit from Verne’s international fame in the 19th century, British and American publishers rushed into print very poorly translated and edited versions of his works. As a result, by the 1930s, Verne had developed a reputation as an author only of “children’s books,” which persisted for many decades. This situation began to change in 1963 when Miller was asked to write the introduction to a new edition of an 1872 version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This version was riddled with errors that had stripped the work of its humor, philosophy, and science. The first printing sold out quickly and began to inspire a new generation of Verne scholars. In 1976, the first volume of The Annotated Jules Verne was published, containing a new and annotated translation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. A second volume followed 2 years later, performing the same service for From Earth to the Moon. In all, more than 30 new translations have been published since 1965, and 9 new titles have been published in English. Perhaps most validating is the news that French publishers are now preparing their first critical editions of Vernian works, which will be modeled after the American annotated versions. Truly, an international victory for those seeking Verne’s rehabilitation.

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