The Golden Volcano: The First English Translation of Verne’s Original Manuscript
In 1899, the Gold Rush is on—in Africa, in California, and in northwestern Canada. Montreal residents Ben Raddle and his cousin Summy Skim inherit a gold mining claim in the Klondike, thousands of miles away. The rational option would be to sell the claim, sight unseen, to one of the large mining companies, but where’s the adventure in that? So, off go Ben and Summy, first to Vancouver by train, then by way of cart, sled, and boat, to Dawson City, capital of the Klondike, to view the claim in person. Then they decide to work the claim to earn back their expenses for the trip. By then, Ben has been infected with gold fever, and there’s no going back to Montreal anytime soon for Summy; in spite of bad luck, horrendous weather, and unsavory Americans, Ben drags Summy further into unexplored and dangerous territory in pursuit of his dream, ultimately arriving at Golden Mount, north of the Arctic circle. Verne provides a fast-moving adventure, and his intended audience probably wouldn’t have cared about the prevalence of factual errors. Instead, turn-of-the-last-century readers would be enthralled with the sights and sounds of the northern frontier.
The saga of this publication is nearly as long as the narrative of The Golden Volcano: never published during the author’s lifetime, the story was not-so-subtly altered by Verne’s son, who added scenes and characters. One hundred years later, translator Edward Baxter was able to use Verne’s original manuscript, and he provides us with a text that much more closely reflects the author’s intentions, with only a few changes for spelling, consistency, and geographical accuracy. Textual changes and contextual information are documented in the Notes section at the end of the book. This translation also includes the preface to the French edition, by Olivier Dumas.