20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Comparisons

As far as we can determine, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea has been translated into English eleven times since it was originally published in France as Vingt milles lieues sous les Mers. The first time was in 1871 by Lewis Mercier. Five years later, another one appeared, translated by Henry Frith. It was almost a century before it was translated anew, this time by Phillip Schuyler Allen in 1956. This was followed by Anthony Bonner in 1962, Walter Miller in 1965, and Mendor Brunetti in 1969. 

Mercier's translation became the "standard" English version because for ninety years it was the main English translation, and thus, was the first edition to enter the public domain. In the past century, there have been literally hundreds of reprints, and today, there are still scores of editions of the Mercier translation available—as opposed to those of Brunetti, Bonner, or Miller—as Mercier's is copyright-free. It has become so ubiquitous, in fact, that many people are unaware that Verne wrote in French! The misconception that he wrote in English is bolstered by the fact that often publishers leave off the name of the old translator.

But Mercier, a Protestant minister and theological writer, had little background for translating a book full of scientific, technical, and nautical details. Very often, things were translated incorrectly. For example, at one point Mercier has Nemo explain that iron is lighter than water! Unfortunately, Verne was blamed for these errors. Additionally, Mercier cut the text wherever he did not understand Verne's science, or did not agree with his politics or religion. Ultimately, Mercier cut more than twenty percent of the text! Hundreds of paragraphs of action, narration, and important character developments are gone from Mercier's edition. In one case, an entire chapter is missing. It is little wonder, then, that for generations, readers of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea have often found themselves confused about what was going on!

Bonner's translation was a great improvement; his language and style are close to Verne's own. Early editions of Bonner's were still missing a number of things, but Bantam cleaned these up with the 2007 reprint. Brunetti's is extremely accurate so far as content is concerned, but he has heavily rewritten Verne; the style is very much Brunetti's own. Walter James Miller's is good, but compressed; narration and dialogue are often paragraphed. Miller also edited The Annotated Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in which he explains in detail the problems with the "standard" edition, and undertakes to reprint it with the reinstated passages. However, many of Mercier's translation errors are left unexplained, and some of the missing parts are still missing.

Ron Miller released his translation in 1988. While he uses as his core the Mercier translation, he does this because Mercier translated Verne very literally, changing word order only to the degree dictated by the differences in grammar. As a result, the style stays true to Verne's own. But he made corrections—lots of them. Errors in translation and scientific errors (Mercier's, not Verne's; any mistakes Verne himself made are left unchanged) were all fixed. This amounted to literally several thousand corrections. The style and wording were made as true as possible to the original. (An example is the title: literal translation from original French makes "Seas" plural. This is actually more accurate than "Sea" (singular), but the singular version is more familiar.

(The above is adapted or completely stolen from the introduction of Ron Miller's version)

Since Ron Miller, there have been several more translations: Frederick Paul Walter released his translation in 1991, and in 1993 The Completely Restored and Annotated Edition (translated and with critical materials by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter) as published. This is considered by the North American Jules Verne Society to be the definitive edition in existence.

But is it? The Miller/Walter edition still uses Mercier as a base, supplementing it with an original translation of those passages that had been omitted. Mickel uses the original Hetzel (1869, 1870, 1871) French texts as his point of departure, instead of the hackneyed and much-abridged 1928 Hachette text (used by many 20th century translators), and must be recognized as truly professional in its scope and its integrity.

"In addition to his re-translation of the text itself, Mickel is generous with explanatory footnotes (a very Vernian trait). And he also includes a lengthy introduction which discusses a wide variety of biographical, thematic, and critical issues pertinent to Jules Verne’s life and work. Although occasionally based too much (in my opinion) on several early canonical French studies that are now either outdated or highly controversial—like Marc Soriano’s Freudian “psychological” biography of the author, or Allotte de la Fuye’s gossipy “family” biography—Mickel’s critical introduction is one of the most informed (i.e., the best) that I have seen in English. The book also provides a chronology of the events portrayed in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, a relatively up-to-date critical bibliography, and reprints of many (though not all) of those now-famous Riou, Neuville, and Hildibrand lithographs found in the original. All in all, this Indiana UP publication of The Complete Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea proves to be an excellent translation and a fine piece of scholarship. My only regret is that Mickel did not lend his expertise to some of Verne’s lesser-known but equally-deserving works.
-- Excerpted from Arthur B. Evans, “New and Recycled Translations of Jules Verne,” Science Fiction Studies, 19.2 #57 (July 1992): 261-63.
review obtained 12 Jan 2009 "

 

 

 

 

http://www.najvs.org/works/V006_VL.shtml

http://www.julesverne.ca/vernebooks/jules-verne_twenty-thousand-leagues-under-the-sea.html

Translators:

Lewis Mercier 1871

Henry Frith 1876

Philip Schuyler Allen 1956 (Dover 0486448495)

Anthony Bonner 1962 (IJL with errors, adapted Books of Wonder, Bantam Classics GOOD)

Walter James Miller 1965 (1976?) (https://archive.org/details/twentythousandle00jule_1)

Mendor Brunetti 1969 (Signet)

Ron Miller 1988 (Unicorn)

Frederick Paul Walter 1991 (Seawolf)

Emanuel J. Mickel 1992 (0253338107)

William Butcher 1998 (Oxford 0192828398)

David Coward 2017 (Penguin 0141394935)

 

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Comparisons
22 Items found Print
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Illustrated Junior Library Series 4
by Jules Verne, translated by Anthony Bonner and illustrated by Stephen Armes
from Grosset & Dunlap
Science Fiction for 5th-10th grade
in Science Fiction (Location: FIC-SCI)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Sterling Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and illustrated by Scott McKowen
from Sterling Publishing Co.
for 5th-10th grade
in Sterling Classics (Location: FIC-STE)
$14.95
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Books of Wonder
by Jules Verne, translated by Anthony Bonner and illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
from Grosset & Dunlap
Science Fiction for 5th-10th grade
in Science Fiction (Location: FIC-SCI)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Bantam Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by Anthony Bonner
from Bantam Books
Science Fiction for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Complete Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne, translated by Emanuel J. Mickel
from Indiana University Press
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
ECL: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Educator Classic Library #2
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and illustrated by Don Irwin
Complete and Unabridged Edition from Classic Press
in Educator Classic Library (Location: VIN-FIC)
Eyewitness Classics: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Retold)
by Jules Verne
from DK Publishing
for 4th-6th grade
in Science Fiction (Location: FIC-SCI)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Signet Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by Mendor Brunetti
from Signet Classics
Science Fiction for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$5.95
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne
from Nelson Doubleday, Inc.
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$4.00 (1 in stock)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Junior Deluxe Editions
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and illustrated by Henry C. Pitz
from Grosset & Dunlap
Science Fiction for 5th-8th grade
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Seawolf Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by F. P. Walter
Illustrated 1875 from SeaWolf Press
for 10th-Adult
in Seawolf Illustrated Classics (Location: FIC-SW)
$15.45
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne, illustrated by Milo Winter
from Barnes & Noble
for 10th-Adult
in Science Fiction (Location: FIC-SCI)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Oxford World's Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by William Butcher
2nd edition from Oxford University
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$12.95
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne, translated by Philip Schuyler Allen and illustrated by Joseph Ciardiello
from Reader's Digest
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne, with essays by Matthew Booth and David Stuart Davis
from Worth Press
for 10th-Adult
in Science Fiction (Location: FIC-SCI)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and illustrated by Edward A. Wilson
from Heritage Press
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Rainbow Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and illustrated by Kurt Wiese
from World Publishing Company
Science Fiction for 5th-8th grade
in Vintage Fiction & Literature (Location: VIN-FIC)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and illustrated by W. J. Aylward
from Charles Scribner's Sons
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Penguin Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by David Coward
from Puffin Books
Science Fiction for 5th-8th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$13.00
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Vintage Classics
by Jules Verne, translated by Henry Frith
from Vintage Classics
Science Fiction for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (abridged)
Puffin Classics
by Jules Verne
from Puffin Books
Science Fiction for 5th-8th grade
in Science Fiction (Location: FIC-SCI)
$6.99
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas
by Jules Verne, translated by Lewis Page Mercier and Ron Miller, illustrated by Ron Miller
from Unicorn Publishing House
for 10th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)