'Eighty Days' and '80 Days'
|Cover image from Random House.com|
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly
and Elizabeth Bisland's
Around the World
Around the World
in 80 Days
March 18 on The Diane Rehm Show radio program, author Matthew Goodman was discussing his new nonfiction book Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World, which also led to some discussion of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-Vingts Jours (or Around the World in Eighty Days), which inspired the events upon which Goodman’s book reports. It sounds interesting, and I’d like to read it, but I also want to re-read the Verne original.
Once upon a time, Verne was thought only fit for the children’s section of the library and bookstore in the English-speaking world, while he’s more highly though of in his native France. One of the reasons is the translations, which in America in particular are so poor that they get the science wrong that Verne tried so hard to get right, even when he was speculating on future science. The translators frequently cut passages or even chapters also. Today there are many modern translations of Verne, but there are so many more poor translations that finding the good ones is difficult. It’s also costlier, because the poor ones are out of copyright, and so come in inexpensive editions, frequently with illustrations, while the new translations require payment for the new translators.
There is a modern translation by William Butcher of 80 Days from the Oxford University Press for about $10 (paperback). I’ve been looking for modern Verne translations at bookstores for the past several years, and have never seen this one.
|Cover image from Barnes and Noble.com|
Meanwhile, Barnes and Noble has the hardcover collection Jules Verne: Seven Novels, which includes an older translation of 80 Days, plus six other novels, for $20. For the Nook e-book reader, you can get those seven plus 22 other titles for $2.99 total. (You can also read many for free at Project Gutenberg.) The best deal you can get for modern translations is Frederick Paul Walters’ Amazing Journeys: Five Visionary Classics for $25.
|The cover of my first “Around the World in 80 Days.” (Amazon.com)|