THE PALIK SERIES

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The North American Jules Verne Society is pleased to announce a new series named for our generous benefactor and late fellow member and friend, Edward Palik. Shortly before his passing, he donated his extensive Verne collection to sell to other members for their enjoyment, but also to raise funds for a particular cause which was close to his heart. He wished to have translations of Verne stories that remained inaccessible to English-speaking readers.

Ed’s previous generosity had helped make possible our 2003 publication of Verne’s 1882 science fiction play, Journey Through the Impossible Available at Amazon.com. This volume won critical praise, Science Fiction Studies noting “Although he quickly became famous for the scientific novels ... theater was Verne’s true passion.... A substantial contribution to Verne scholarship.... Highly recommended.” The Washington Science Fiction Association commented, “A work for Verne aficionados, theater buffs, or just those who enjoy a good story.... See another side of the ‘Father of Science Fiction.’” Continuing in the tradition of that volume, the North American Jules Verne Society’s Palik series will offer critical editions of Verne works never before published in English. Society Vice-President Brian Taves, co-author of The Jules Verne Encyclopedia (Scarecrow Press, 1996), who also edited the first English translation and publication of Adventures of the Rat Family (Oxford University Press, 1993), will serve as series editor. The society’s publication committee will provide peer review. The publisher will be BearManor Media <http://bearmanormedia.com/>, with the books available on Amazon.com and elsewhere.

The last two decades have brought astonishing progress in the study of Jules Verne, with many fresh translations of Verne stories. Still there remain a number that have been overlooked, and it is this gap which the North American Jules Verne Society seeks to fill in the Palik series. Through the pooling of expertise by a variety of Verne scholars and translators around the world, we will be able to bring to the Anglo-American public a series of hitherto unknown Verne tales. The volumes published will reveal the range of Verne’s storytelling, especially for those who only know his most famous stories. We strive to develop a better appreciation of the famous writer who has, for more than a century and a half, been the widest-read author of fiction in the world.

Since Verne’s most famous novel is probably Around the World in Eighty Days, it is appropriate to begin in a similar genre, and the inaugural book in the series will be The Marriage of a Marquis. A foreword by Brian Taves establishes the mission of the series, and Walter James Miller’s introduction sets out the problematic history of Verne translations to this day. The emphasis shifts to Verne’s use of humor, with a preface and notes by Jean-Michel Margot for the novelette The Marriage of Mr. Anselme de Tilleuls, translated by Edward Baxter. Baxter then provides an afterword on the difficulties faced by the task of conveying Verne’s 19th century French into 21st century English. In an appendix, Kieran O’Driscoll offers Verne’s unfinished novel, Jédédias Jamet, or The Tale of an Inheritance, another amusing story, which was to include a journey to the United States.

The second volume is Shipwrecked Family: Marooned with Uncle Robinson, a deserted island story that was intended as an epic adventure but was initially rejected by his publisher and so ultimately never completed. Creating new characters, Verne rewrote it into the classic, The Mysterious Island, where the fabled Captain Nemo makes his final appearance. However, Shipwrecked Family offers a very different narrative; this time the castaways are a mother, father, and children, together with a sailor who becomes the avuncular figure of the subtitle. An afterword provides the first English translation of his prefaces to two of his other Robinsonade novels, and an introduction by Brian Taves discusses the influence of the generic tradition on his novels. Translator of Shipwrecked Family is Sidney Kravitz, who also rendered the definitive first modern edition of The Mysterious Island, and every reader of that novel will want to experience this alternate, initial telling of the story.

The third volume, Mr. Chimp and Other Plays, continues the study of Verne on stage begun with the critically-acclaimed play, Journey Through the Impossible. Four plays composed before Verne became a best-selling novelist reveal a deft, humorous touch with themes of romance, marriage, courtship and love. In particular, the title play provides a satirical look at humankind’s relation to the monkey, before publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. A young man undertakes a simian masquerade and dupes a reputable scientist, as Verne speculates on whether there is much difference between human and ape after all. Translation is by Frank Morlock, who has brought four other books of Verne plays to recent English publication, and an introduction by Jean-Michel Margot examines the importance of the stage in Verne’s career.

The fourth volume, The Count of Chanteleine: A Tale of the French Revolution, is a thrilling swashbuckler of the Reign of Terror in the region of France known as the Vendée, the scene of some of the bloodiest massacres during that tumultuous time. Today, the events that took place in the Vendée are widely discussed by historians as perhaps the first modern genocide, providing added interest. A preface by Brian Taves establishes the resemblance of The Count of Chanteleine to such stories as A Tale of Two Cities and the Scarlet Pimpernel novels in the adventure tradition. Historical notes are provided by Garmt de Vries-Uiterweerd, author of the first Dutch translation of the same novel for the Verne society of the Netherlands. In an afterword, Verne biographer Volker Dehs tells how the story came to be written. The Count of Chanteleine is another expert English rendering by Edward Baxter, who has translated Verne novels, plays, and short stories.

The fifth volume reveals how Verne’s most famous novel, Around the World in 80 Days, was originally conceived as a play, then was written as a best-selling novel, and had equal 19th century success as a mammoth stage hit. The 1874 play ran for literally thousands of performances in many different countries, including the United States, where it went on tour and was repeatedly revived over decades. The original playscript is offered here, translated directly from the French by the producers of the Broadway presentation. Like filmmakers after him, Jules Verne understood the need to adapt his novel for a new medium, and enhance the dramatic spectacle. Working in collaboration with Adolphe d’Ennery of Les Deux Orphelines fame, Verne created a distinct variation on the novel. The play includes many different characters and episodes, and all of those who love the book will want to read Verne’s stage version. An introduction by French Verne scholar Philippe Burgaud examines how the play was composed and offered to 19th century audiences. This volume also includes “The Meridians and the Calendar,” Jean-Louis Trudel’s first English translation of Verne’s essay explaining how Phileas Fogg accomplished his feat, despite actually traveling 81 days.

The sixth volume will examine the relationship between Jules and Michel Verne as two writers, the son an original author in his own right, and who re-wrote many of his father’s stories for posthumous publication. Included in this volume is Jules’s Pierre-Jean and the story Michel created from it, The Fate of Jean Morénas. (In turn, The Fate of Jean Morénas was also one of the motion pictures of his father’s books that Michel brought to the silent screen.) Providing further insight into Michel’s blending of his authorial voice with that of his father is Fact-Finding Mission, Jules’s unfinished beginning of a novel. In Michel’s hands, it was transformed and completed as The Astonishing Adventure of the Barsac Mission, but Jules’s original text, Fact-Finding Mission, has never appeared in English. Translation of Pierre-Jean, The Fate of Jean Morénas, and Fact-Finding Mission, along with critical material, is by Kieran O’Driscoll, author of the forthcoming Retranslation Through the Ages: The Example of Jules Verne, based on his recent doctoral dissertation.

Additional volumes are underway.

The books in the Palik series are illustrated with engravings from the original French editions of Verne’s books; many of these images have not been previously published in the Anglophone world. The North American Jules Verne Society is grateful to Bernhard Krauth and the Jules-Verne-Club in Germany for providing most of the illustrations from their ongoing scanning project. Original covers are based on the European editions of the 19th century.

Watch this site for further details on NAJVS publications in the Palik Series.

Brian Taves talks more about the series in this interview.

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