Saturday, January 23, 2010

Verne’s Right Half

Jules Verne’s manuscripts were written in longhand on the left half of the page. The right half was reserved for other purposes.

His publisher, Jules Hetzel sometimes wrote comments in the right margin, said Agnes Marcetteau, director of the Jules Verne Museum in Nantes, France.
The original manuscript for Paris in the 20th Century, which is kept in the city library, showed angry scribbling from the publisher.

“Unpleasant word,” wrote Hetzel. “Wrongly done. Especially for a start.” Another time the publisher commented, “No one will ever believe what you write.”

At one point Verne described a medical dissection in gory detail. “It is out of the question. It is shocking,” complained the publisher.

Ms. Marcetteau gently turned the pages of precious manuscripts for Mysterious Island and From the Earth to the Moon. The right margin was full of corrections, comments, diagrams, and mathematical calculations.

Around the World in 80 Days required careful reckoning, because the story was released in serial form. The count of the mileage and the tally of days fills the right margin. It all had to come out right for the story to work.

Jules Verne Museum

6 comments:

Saskia said...

Oh, I love his neat little writing! It is quite wonderful to see these.

Saviour Pirotta said...

How wonderful to see an original, and to get an insight into how a book is built.

What a pity that now that we all seem to write on laptops there aren't really any original manuscripts anymore. Or are there?

Olivier Souille said...

Incroyable ! Je ne savais pas ! Génial James !

Olivier Souille said...

Dear James,
I put the 2 pages of Jules Verne and the French translation comments on my facebook in mentioning you. It's really great what you have done. Thousand thanks James! It gives me great discovery of a writer whose work I admire.

Roberto said...

“The Mysterious Island” is my all-time favorite adventure/sci-fi book. It is a great adventure/mystery/period-piece, told in an ‘imaginative realism’ style, with outstanding scientific/survivalist anecdotes peppered throughout, and a visit by Captain Nemo! (I hope I didn’t spoil the mystery for anyone)… there is a version with illustrations by Newell Convers Wyeth.

Hollywood made a cheesy B-movie in Superdynamation! out of it, complete with giant, radio-active insects and other critters, with special visual effects by the great Ray Harryhausen.

Mysterious Island (1961) Part 1
10 min - Jan 5, 2009
www.youtube.com

They hacked the story to pieces (sound familiar?) and left out all the great ‘McGuiver’-like-science. I can’t really be too mad about the hatchet job tho, because when I first saw the movie during the early 60’s, on T.V. as a kid, I thought it was great!... and it inspired me to start reading all of Verne’s books.

The thing with Jules Verne tho, is he never wrote a book about how to tell/write an imaginative story. Wouldn’t that be great!

Which brings me to your recent posts about your new book on color and light… I am really looking forward to adding it to my library, along with your ‘Imaginative Realism’ book and your ‘The Artists’ Guide to Sketching’. Keep up the good work Jimmy G., you are one awesomely ‘superior’ Dude! -RQ

Andrew Wales said...

Fascinating!