The Mysterious Island is, in a sense, a sequel to Jules Verne’s famous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), for in this work, Verne describes the death of Captain Nemo. Primarily, however, it is a story of survival and a celebration of the adaptability and ingenuity of intelligent, hardworking people. Verne shows the great satisfaction that can be derived from personal accomplishment. The wealth of detail and description and the valid explanations of mysterious happenings create a sense of realism. At the urging of his publisher, Pierre-Jules Hetzel, Verne turned an early, rather unpromising manuscript into The Mysterious Island by adding scientific data, mystery, dramatic complications, and a startling, original conclusion.
Apart from its interest as a story, The Mysterious Island is significant for its technological detail. Unlike many tales of the shipwreck variety, unlike even many science-fiction stories of the twentieth century, the novel includes not merely the trappings of science; it also includes scientific substance. Verne goes into detailed accounts of the ways in which tools, chemicals, and communications equipment can be manufactured from elementary materials. All of this description, which may appear to be unrelated to the plot, is significant because it reflects the optimism of nineteenth century European society and especially the widespread confidence placed in technology. Although in some...
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