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The Children of Captain Grant by Jules Verne
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The Children of Captain Grant (1878)

by Jules Verne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Les voyages extraordinaires (book 5)

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» See also 16 mentions

English (4)  Danish (2)  French (1)  All (7)
Showing 4 of 4
The children Of Captain Grant is a classic adventure story, the fifth of Jules Verne's series of "extraordinary travels and voyges". The story is very entertaining, and, provided the reader can bear Verne's extentive descriptions of geography, flora & fauna, and local customs, all very entertaining.

The story begins as Lord and Lady Glenarvan, sailing home to Glasgow in with their ship, the Duncan find a bottle with a message. The message is written identically in three languages, but the papers in the bottle have sustained water damage and the message is barely readable. Nonetheless, it is clear that the message comes from Captain Grant, who was shipwrecked. Research reveals that the message must have been posted by Captain Grant after the supposed shipwreck of his vessel, the Brittania. Lord Glenarvan also locates Captain Grant's children, Mary and Robert. As the Admiralty refuses to undertake a rescue mission, Lord Glenarvan decides to undertake such a mission himself, bringing along his wife and Captain Grant's children. A very valuable additional team member will prove to be Paganel, a somewhat muddle-headed geographer who mistakenly boarded the Duncan in the harbour of Glasgow.

After the most meticulous interpretation of the three messages from the bottle, compared with the last call in port of the Brittania, it is decided that Captain Grant is most likely to be found in South-America. Based on details from the message they decide to cross the continent along the 37th parallel south. The Duncan lands them on the continent from where their travels to search inland for Captain Grant, whom they believe to be held captive by native tribes. During their search in Patagonia, they encounter a native who tells them about a white man who was taken, and they follow this lead hoping to find Captain Grant. However, half-way through they realize the story is incorrect. Crossing the continent, they come across the wildest adventures including an earthquake and a flood, while observing all the most typical flora an fauna, such as the condor, for Latin America. There are also mentions of typical culture of south American indians. After a strenuous journey, they are taken on board the Duncan which awaits them at the agreed point on the other side of the continent.

Despairing after their failure in finding Captain Grant, Paganel is inspired to read the message in a different way, explaining that they should pusue their search along the 37th parallel, but should set sail for Australia. They set course, via Tristan da Cunha and Amsterdam Island, to the west coast of Australia. Here, they meet a sailor called Ayrton, who was the quarter-master of the Britannia. He promises to lead them across the continent to the place where the Britannia was shipwrecked. They set out with a caravan of waggons, oxen and horses, to follow the trail and cross over to the east coast. However, in the middle of their journey Ayrton rouses suspicion, as their animals die one after the other, and they are shadowed by a band of crooks. Ayrton leaves them stranded, while getting away with a letter by Lord Glenarvan which he will use to board and direct the Duncan, which he wants to take control of. After a long journey of foot, the rescue party reaches the east coast of Australia, and failing to meet the Duncan at the appointed location, they believe their mission is a complete failure. They have not found Captain Grant, and have lost the Duncan. They pay passage on a ship to New Zealand, but this ship is wrecked off the coast of New Zealand. The unhappy party falls into the hands of a maori tribe they believe will kill them, but with the help of Robert, who was not captured they manage a spectacular escape, and making use of the Maori's superstitious believes in taboo, the escape being recaptured by the cannibals. Crossing over land, they reach the coast, but here they are again in danger of being captured. They try to escape in a canoe, and as they are about to be overtaken by Maori in pursuit, they are rescued by a European ship, which turns out to be the Duncan. Back aboard ship they hear how Ayrton's attemp to capture the Duncan was foiled. At his own request, Ayrton is transported to to be left at an uninhabited island, Tabor Island, on which they discover Captain Grant.

To modern readers, the features of the geography, flora and fauna, and anthropology of local peoples of South America, Australia and New Zealand may be a bit tedious to read, but most of it is quite entertaining. It is obvious that the novel is structured in such a way to enable the author to maximize the descriptive potential. Coming from Scotland, in search of a shipwreck in South America the most logical attempt would be to land on the east coast of the continent and cross over to the west coast. Upon failing to find the captain, the most logical thing would then be to cross over to New Zealand, as if the travellers would have followed the 37th parallel they would then have found Captain Grant immediately on Tabor Island. In the novel, however, the globe is circumvented, sailing from the west to the east.

Beside the extensive descriptions of geographical features, natural history and disasters, readers are entertained with lock, stock, and barrel clichés about cannibalism and "once a convict, forever a convict" regarding the settlers in Australia. ( )
2 vote edwinbcn | Feb 4, 2013 |
This novel also goes by the slightly more interesting title of In Search of the Castaways. It is one of Verne's longer novels and involves a hunt round the world by a group of travellers for the missing sea captain of the title, accompanied by his children, following the discovery of a message in a bottle which purports to show where he was shipwrecked (but there are several twists). It has some exciting episodes, but is too long and Verne indulges in too much of his usual braindumping of information about the geography, flora and fauna of the several continents and islands through which they travel. So a bit of a slog, all in all. 3/5 ( )
  john257hopper | Dec 18, 2012 |
Old fashioned Sea,love, travel, 650 pages I read it in a week. ( )
  brone | Sep 7, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (104 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Verne, Julesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Austin, HenryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christensen, BenteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunnarsson, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moe, Per JohanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riou, ÉdouardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Le 26 juillet 1864, par une forte brise du nord-est, un magnifique yacht évoluait à toute vapeur sur les flots du canal du Nord.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Meno comodità si hanno e meno bisogni si hanno. Meno bisogni si hanno più si è felici.
«Ah! il mare, il mare! – ripeteva Paganel, – è il campo dove per eccellenza si esercitano le forze umane, e la nave è il vero veicolo della civiltà! Pensate, amici miei: se il globo non fosse stato che un immenso continente, non se ne conoscerebbe ancora la millesima parte, nel XIX secolo! … Venti miglia di deserto separano gli uomini più di cinquecento miglia di oceano! Si è vicini, da una costa all'altra; si è invece stranieri, se una foresta vi separa! … »
Era tutto ossa e nervi, e secondo un'espressione scozzese, non perdeva tempo a metter su ciccia.
Là si era precipitata tutta l'orda degli avventurieri, ladri e galantuomini, quelli che fanno impiccare e quelli che si fanno impiccare.
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Also published as ''In Search of the Castaways''. Also published in three separate parts with different titles.
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"During a pleasant sailing trip, Lord and Lady Glenarvan find a message in a bottle in the stomach of a shark. The missive is from one Captain Grant, whose ship has gone down at sea. But the message is damaged, and the location of the castaways is a mystery. With only a few clues in hand, they head off in search of the survivors, accompanied by the missing captain's children, an absentminded scholar, and a crew of stalwart sailors. Little do they know that their journey will take them on dangerous adventures to the farthest reaches of the globe ..."--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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