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Remembering Jules Verne

Author Terry Harpold
Air Date 8/16/2005

Jules Verne I Transcript

Today, Recess! correspondent Terry Harpold is speaking with Walter James Miller.

Brief Sound Clip:

Widely considered the “Father of Jules Verne Studies in America,” Walter James Miller is a poet, playwright, critic, translator and professor of English at New York University, where he created and taught the Great Books course for many years.

His teaching at engineering colleges in Brooklyn and Colorado helped produce classic articles on technical writing and his first book, Engineers as Writers. At New York University his appointment as full Professor followed his pioneering studies in Jules Verne (e.g., his Annotated Jules Verne series) and his innovative work on television and radio. His NBC documentary Master Builders of America won a Special Award from the Engineers Council for Professional Development. For fifteen years his author-interview show, Reader’s Almanac, was a fixture on National Public Radio. His verse drama Joseph in the Pit was produced off-Broadway in 1993 and 2002.

The 67 volumes he has authored, co-authored, or to which he has contributed include Making an Angel: Poems, Love’s Mainland: New & Selected Poems, book-length studies of Vonnegut, Heller, Sinclair, Beckett, Doctorow, and Bradbury, and most recently, prefaces to Signet Classics editions of Bellamy, Mary Shelley and Verne. In 2003, he wrote the “Introduction” and annotations for the first-ever English edition of Verne’s novel The Mighty Orinoco (Wesleyan University Press, 2003).

As Professor Miller observes in this interview, many of the widely-read English translations of Jules Verne’s 64 novels are inaccurate and crudely abridged. Here are some of the recent translations of Verne, made by a new generation of scholars and translators, that capture the author’s subtlety, humor, and originality:

Adventures of the Rat Family. Trans. Evelyn Copeland. Eds. Iona Opie and Brian Taves. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Around the World in Eighty Days. Trans. William Butcher. London: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Invasion of the Sea. Trans. Edward Baxter. Ed. Arthur B. Evans. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Trans. William Butcher. London: Oxford University Press, 1998.
The Annotated Jules Verne: From the Earth to the Moon. Trans. Walter James Miller. Ed. Walter James Miller. New York: Gramercy Books, 1978.
The Mighty Orinoco. Trans. Stanford Luce. Ed. Arthur B. Evans. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.
The Mysterious Island. Trans. Jordan Stump. New York: Random House, 2001.
The Mysterious Island. Trans. Sidney Kravitz. Ed. Arthur B. Evans. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The Competely Restored and Annotated Edition. Trans. Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter. Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1993.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Trans. William Butcher. London: Oxford University Press, 1998.
(With Adolphe Ennery). Journey Through the Impossible. Trans. Edward Baxter. Ed. Jean-Michel Margot. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003.

The WWW site of the North American Jules Verne Society ( includes links to many other Verne-related resources, including lists of recommended English translations in print and available online (Verne has been translated into more than 75 languages!), Verne biographies and criticism of his fiction and plays, contact information for other Verne societies, and advice about collecting 19th and early 20th century editions of the novels, some of the most beautiful illustrated books ever published.

Posted in Interviews, Literature