An Antarctic Mystery – Jules Verne

An Antarctic Mystery

From the Publisher:

Jules Verne is best known for such novels as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, but he did a great deal of other work as well — he published two books a year for decades, and left behind an oeuvre that approaches vast.

In this novel, published in this edition as An Antarctic Mystery but also known as The Sphinx of the Ice Fields, Captain Len Guy’s brother is on the ship Jane when it goes missing, and the Captain must convince the crew of the Halbrane to take a long and dangerous trip to Antarctic in hope of finding his brother and any other survivors of the Jane. But strange as the journey may be, it’s nowhere near as strange as what they will find waiting at its end. . . .

My thoughts:

This book is a sequel to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, but you don’t actually need to read Poe in order to follow Verne’s story-he did a pretty good job summarizing Poe’s work.  I read this book for a book challenge, as I needed a book for Antarctica.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I had several moments when I cringed at the descriptions-really there were some things that were better left to the imagination, and the overt racism in this book also bothered me (and yes, I know it’s a product of its times, but I still can’t help being bothered at the language used.)  The characters were pretty well developed, and the narrative was interesting.  Another thing that I also didn’t like was the nicely tied up ending of the story.  It is my understanding that Poe left the ending up to the imagination of the reader, and I think that Verne should have done the same thing in order to keep the mystery alive. The ending was just too neat for me.  I usually re-read books, but this one won’t be a re-read for me.


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