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An Antarctic Mystery by Jules Verne

An Antarctic Mystery (1897)

by Jules Verne

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  1. 10
    The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (391)
    391: An Antarctic Mystery is Verne's response/sequel to Poe's book.

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In a way this could be considered an early example of fan fiction. Le Sphinx des Glaces ("An Antarctic Mystery" in English) is a sequel of sorts to Edgar Allan Poe's story The Narrative of Gordon Arthur Pym of Nantucket, which involves a mysterious and fateful trip to Antarctica. Verne's continuation follows an American named Jeorling who decides to join the crew of the Halbrane, a ship captained by the brother of the Jane, the ship featured in Poe's story. It has its breathlessly exciting moments and its not very interesting moments, but you have to give Verne credit for his imagination. And as a story set in the age of sail, it has a sort of timeless quality that I liked. It did take me a while to read, but that's because I was reading it (a) in my second language (b) as an ebook -- both of these factors can slow down my reading and are not really reflections of the actual book.

If you're planning to read it in English, there is a translation available on Project Gutenberg, but it's rather literal and close to the French. This might make it a bit difficult to stick with. I'd suggest reading this in French if you can, or at the very least reading the English for the content and not the style. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Sep 19, 2014 |
I've been a sucker for maritime adventure books, particularly polar exploration stories, since I read "The Last Cruise of the Jeannette" as a kid. I know what binnacles and ratlines are, how a sail is fothered, and why you're screwed if you don't have the stuff in your cargo hold stowed properly. So I was delighted to learn that Edgar Allen Poe had written a novel in this vein, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" (1839) and that Jules Verne added a sequel to Poe's work, "An Antarctic Mystery" 60 years later.

Read the rest at my blog: http://thegrimreader.blogspot.com/2013/09/i-visit-antarctica-with-two-famous.htm... ( )
  nohrt4me2 | Sep 20, 2013 |
Read in Livre de Poche edition ( )
  Georges_T._Dodds | Mar 30, 2013 |
From the Foreword, by translator Frederick Paul Walter:
An 1896 letter Verne wrote to his publisher to introduce a new manuscript - his Poe-inspired thriller entitled THE SPHINX OF THE ICE REALM -
"It will come at the right time, since people are talking about voyages and discoveries at the South Pole. My point of departure is one of Edgar Allan Poe's strangest stories, THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM, but it will not be necessary to have read Poe's novel to understand mine. I have used everything that Poe left in suspense and developed the mystery surrounding certain of the characters. I have one particularly bright idea: one of my heroes who, like everyone else, thought that Poe's novel was entirely fictitious, comes face to face with a matching reality. Needless to say, I go much farther than Poe did. Let me know what you think; I hope that my readers will be very interested.
"I am so taken with the extraordinary side of a work like this that I wish to dedicate it to Poe's memory and to our friends in America. I'm very excited about this novel; we shall see whether it gets the public excited too ... in my opinion it's another PYM, but more true to life and I think more interesting."

Walter goes on to say: "SPHINX exploited all the antarctic research it could, then vividly imagined the rest.... SPHINX is Verne's ultimate manhunt, literally two for the price of one. And beyond this, SPHINX is the old Frenchman's homage to a boyhood influence, a literary role model, and long-distance mentor, a lifelong inspiration. His books rarely have dedications, but he dedicated this one to Poe's memory.
"And maybe there's a little humility in that - the reverence a wise man sometimes feels for a forerunner. Even so, Verne is still cocky enough to think that he has gone Poe one better, that he has written a novel (see above) 'more true to life and I think more interesting.' Unlike Poe he was a bestseller in his day and only humble up to a point."
Kindle location: 174-194

Edgar Allan Poe's only novel, THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM, published in 1838, is an Antarctic adventure with a startling and puzzling ending. The book inspired at least 3 writers to create their own versions of Pym's quest for the South Pole. Each book is a fun read in its own very different way.
THE SPHINX OF THE ICE REALM by Jules Verne, 1897
PYM: A NOVEL by Mat Johnson, 2011
  Mary_Overton | Oct 31, 2012 |
There were definitely some moments of adventure, but overall the narrator was simply too passive for my taste and I thought the story bogged down in quite a few places. It was really boring to slog through and had none of the horror of Poe's original story to break up the otherwise mediocre prose. Not to say it was awful, Verne could never be truly terrible, just that the book had very little going for it and a whole lot of effort for very little relative payoff. ( )
  391 | Jun 8, 2011 |
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Der Erinnerung an Edgar A. Poe und meinen amerikanischen Freunden gewidmet
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No doubt the following narrative will be received: with entire incredulity, but I think it well that the public should be put in possession of the fact narrated in ???An Antarctic Mystery.???
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A sequel to Poe's "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket;" also published as "Captain Len Guy;or, An Antarctic Mystery" and "Mystery of Arthur Gordon Pym"; alternative title or subtitle "The Sphinx of the Ice Fields"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0839823169, Hardcover)

excerpt from CHAPTER I - THE KERGUELEN ISLANDS No doubt the following narrative will be received: with entire incredulity, but I think it well that the public should be put in possession of the facts narrated in "An Antarctic Mystery." The public is free to believe them or not, at its good pleasure.

No more appropriate scene for the wonderful and terrible adventures which I am about to relate could be imagined than the Desolation Islands, so called, in 1779, by Captain Cook. I lived there for several weeks, and I can affirm, on the evidence of my own eyes and my own experience, that the famous English explorer and navigator was happily inspired when he gave the islands that significant name.

Geographical nomenclature, however, insists on the name of Kerguelen, which is generally adopted for the group which lies in 49- 45- south latitude, and 69- 6- east longitude. This is just, because in 1772, Baron Kerguelen, a Frenchman, was the first to discover those islands in the southern part of the Indian Ocean. Indeed, the commander of the squadron on that voyage believed that he had found a new continent on the limit of the Antarctic seas, but in the course of a second expedition he recognized his error. There was only an archipelago. I may be believed when I assert that Desolation Islands is the only suitable name for this group of three hundred isles or islets in the midst of the vast expanse of ocean, which is constantly disturbed by austral storms.

Nevertheless, the group is inhabited, and the number of Europeans and Americans who formed the nucleus of the Kerguelen population at the date of the 2nd of August, 1839, had been augmented for two months past by a unit in my person. Just then I was waiting for an opportunity of leaving the place, having completed the geological and mineralogical studies which had brought me to the group in general and to Christmas Harbour in particular.

Christmas Harbour belongs to the most important islet of the archipelago, one that is about half as large as Corsica. It is safe, and easy, and free of access. Your ship may ride securely at single anchor in its waters, while the bay remains free from ice.

[Illustration: The approach of the Halbrane]

The Kerguelens possess hundreds of other fjords. Their coasts are notched and ragged, especially in the parts between the north and the south-east, where little islets abound. The soil, of volcanic origin, is composed of quartz, mixed with a bluish stone. In summer it is covered with green mosses, grey lichens, various hardy plants, especially wild saxifrage. Only one edible plant grows there, a kind of cabbage, not found anywhere else, and very bitter of flavour. Great flocks of royal and other penguins people these islets, finding good lodging on their rocky and mossy surface. These stupid birds, in their yellow and white feathers, with their heads thrown back and their wings like the sleeves of a monastic habit, look, at a distance, like monks in single file walking in procession along the beach.

The islands afford refuge to numbers of sea-calves, seals, and sea-elephants. The taking of those amphibious animals either on land or from the sea is profitable, and may lead to a trade which will bring a large number of vessels into these waters.

On the day already mentioned, I was accosted while strolling on the port by mine host of mine inn.

-Unless I am much mistaken, time is beginning to seem very long to you, Mr. Jeorling?-

The speaker was a big tall American who kept the only inn on the port.

-If you will not be offended, Mr. Atkins, I will acknowledge that I do find it long.-

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:35 -0400)

Jeorgling is in the Kerguelen Islands with studies that only he knows. At the end, looking back to the United States by any means whatsoever. The only boat passing through the area is commanded by Captain Guy Act, that is Jeorgling Connecticut, near where the famous Pym, makes the captain changed his mind. The journey of Halbrane starts smoothly, but then collide with a block of ice in which the body of a survivor of the Jane Patterson warns that there Tsalal survivors on the island, including the ship's captain , William Guy, who is the brother of the Halbrane. This ship is strengthened to go in search of survivors, and new marine recruits, including a strange name mestizo Hunt.… (more)

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