The Mysterious Island

mysterious_island coverThe Mysterious Island  was published in 1894 , a product of the mind of Jules Verne. Verne had been writing for  four decades before creating this masterpiece. Verne’s works are characterized by his immense love for science. He would consistently weave a great deal of current scientific theory into all of his works. The backdrop of this book has 5 men stranded on an island. Each of the men have some very enduring characteristics and former occupations, consequently allowing Verne to inform his readers about a variety of scientific study. It seems as though each chapter carries a different scientific theme. For instance,  Chapter 1 goes very in detail about the inner workings of hot air balloons, and yet chapter 2 shifts gears completely and educates the reader about geology and volcanic activity.

Screen shot of the 1961 movie rendition
Screen shot of the 1961 movie rendition

He uses a college-age natural historian named Herbert to explain to readers many of the concepts of the Linnaeus taxonomic system. Verne’s character, Pencroft, is a sailor. Pencroft, inevitably teaches readers  about cartesian map systems and the 19th century views about circumnavigation. As one of the five characters, Verne includes an Engineer. This character is a virtual super hero as he is an expert in metallurgy, chemistry, candles and lanterns, and farming. Verne also addresses the concept of Social Darwinism( Malthusian idealogy) as he introduces an orangutan in part 2 of the book and the orangutan becomes part of their society. He  makes it clear that the orangutan can achieve many of the same tasks as the black servant, Neb.

The book has been reproduced many times over the last century. The abridged version of the book is the best seller, as it is easier for kids to read with far less scientific jargon. Several hollywood movies have been made over the book, including the 2008 film, Journey 2: Mysterious Island. The latest movie was a box office hit worldwide. Regardless of the method that you ingest this work of art, it is fantastic. Many modern inventions and innovation in science and literature come from this novel and others by Jules Verne.

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