historicsweetsballroom.com historicsweetsballroom.com Open publication Publishers OBP arsenal telling Tales 6. The Swiss family members Robinson
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1With The Swiss family Robinson we concerned one of the good classics the children’s literature in English. This story that a father and also mother and also their four sons who were wrecked ~ above a desert island in the tropics, encountered every manner that birds, beasts, fish and also reptiles as well as plant life and established themselves comfortably there has took pleasure in extraordinary popular for nearly two hundreds years. Its combination of adventure, danger and also discovery through paternal instruction in botany, zoology and also geography made that irresistible come generations that youthful readers. Though Campe’s Robinson der Jüngere was by far the most successful Robinsonade in Germany, The Swiss family members Robinson, German as well in origin, oustripped it in success in its various English guises. Brian Alderson approximates that native the so late 1840s ’close on three hundred different editions must have actually been released in England and also America’.1 The title of the publication is known to practically everybody in Britain even today, yet in Germany and even in Switzerland, wherein the book originated, it is nowadays scarcely known. The book’s success in Britain most likely owes a great deal to proud in the achievements of british explorers and colonists in the eighteenth and also nineteenth centuries and also to the growth and also consolidation the the Empire throughout this period. The book may be pertained to with a Swiss family, however its experiences might easily be identified with imaginatively by brother youngsters. This excited readers may well have had relatives or neighbors scattered throughout the colonies. They might revel in the exotic dangers and also delights the the desert island, knowing that it linked up v the strange and marvellous realities that far-flung brothers settlements.

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2The history of The Swiss family members Robinson is extraordinarily complex, and aspects of that still await comprehensive investigation. Part of the problem lies in the reality that the faster English editions do not derive straight from the original German text, but from a version made in French by the Swiss Baroness Isabelle de Montolieu (1751-1832), who made a good many transforms and enhancements to it. The earliest editions of the story in all three languages are now rare items and also are daunting to uncover all in one place. The an outcome is that most statements made about them tend to be made top top the basis of second literature quite than stemming from check of the initial editions. As soon as it pertains to editions published after about 1850 the issue is no much less complicated, and generalities abound. It can be thought that this is a job not precious undertaking, yet a book that has enjoyed such popular in English over nearly two century deserves this type of attention from part future scholar.


3The origins of the book lie in a story composed by the Swiss minister Johann David Wyss (1743-1818) for his four sons. It to be written in between 1792-98 and also consists of part 841 pages in manuscript, together with illustrations. The manuscript is bound in four volumes and was inserted on long-term deposit in the Burgerbibliothek in Bern in 1997.2 This text was edited and slightly adapted by Johann David Wyss’s 2nd son, Johann Rudolf Wyss (1781-1830), and published together Der Schweizerische Robinson, oder der schiffbrüchige Schweizer-Prediger und seine Familie. Ein lehrreiches Buch für Kinder und Kinder-Freunde zu Stadt und Land. Herausgegeben von Joh. Rudolf Wyß (Zürich: Orell, Füßli und Compagnie, 1812-13) in 2 volumes (The Swiss Robinson, or the Shipwrecked Swiss Preacher and his Family. An instructive book for children and also their friend in town and country. Edited by Joh. Rudolf Wyss). These 2 volumes spanned only half of the original manuscript; the remainder was not released until 1826-27 in a further two volumes. The title-page the volume 1 actually offers the form ’Schweizersche’, though at p. 1 it appears as ’Schweitzerische’. Quantities 3 and also 4 have actually the kind ’Schweizerische’. Volume 1 consists of a frontispiece by H. Lips illustrating an particularly tree with huge spherical fruits on the left, palm-trees with three monkeys on the right and also in the background. Father and also one son, both armed with a gun and accompanied by a dog, occupy the foreground. Volume 2 consists of at the finish a map that the island, which has been reproduced in very many subsequent editions of the book. An advertising on p. 335 of volume 1 suggests that that was published ’Auf Jubilate’, i.e. The 3rd Sunday ~ Easter. The text is split into chapters v descriptive headings. Volume 1 consists of fourteen chapters, the critical headed ’Neue Beute von dem Wrack. Das Floß. Die Schildkröte’ (New booty native the wreck. The raft. The turtle). Volume 2 consists of chapters 15-28, the last comprising ’Anlegung einer zweyten Meyerey. Kleine Entdeckungen. Das Brot. Dice Klause. Neue Benennungen. Arbeiten in der Felsen-Wohnung’ (Establishing a 2nd farm. Small discoveries. Bread. The hermitage. Giving brand-new names. Work-related in the absent dwelling). The story then division off without any type of conclusion, leave the family members still top top the island, life in Felsenheim and also with no point out of possible rescue. However, in ~ the end of volume 2 an editorial postscript describes how, three or 4 years after ~ the household was shipwrecked, one English transport ship called The probe returning from brand-new Holland (i.e. The south-east part of what us now understand as Australia) to be blown by a storm to the island. A boat was sent ashore and took the newspaper of the Swiss family back to the ship, but was prevented from returning to rescue them. The newspaper was required to England and from there to Switzerland. The captain was proclaimed to be established to return to rescue the family.


4This was the text that engendered Madame de Montolieu to develop a French translation. It to be entitled Le Robinson suisse, ou journal d’un père de famille naufragé avec ses enfans. Traduit de l’allemand de M. Wiss; par Mme de Montolieu. Orné de huit fig. En taille douce. (Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1814). The was released in four volumes, and also there to be a fold-out map in ~ the end. Madame de Montolieu divided her text right into thirty-six chapters, each v descriptive headings. The contents covers the same material as showed up in the twenty-eight chapters the the German original, however with slightly various divisions and some additions, especially at the beginning and also the end. The truth that Montolieu’s variation occupies four volumes if the German has actually only two is defined simply by distinctions in font-size and lay-out in the two historicsweetsballroom.com.

5Montolieu developed in her avant-propos a narrative and also geographical context for the original story. She put the island on which the Swiss family members was wrecked as located towards the south-west of Java, close to the coastlines of brand-new Guinea, and the ship is described as the Russian ship The Podesda, commanded through Captain Kreusenstern. Adam Johann von Krusenstern (1770-1846) to be an admiral in Russian service and also undertook the an initial Russian trip round the civilization in 1803-06. Madame de Montolieu, in transcribing the details of the German editorial postscript, provides two odd mistakes. She talks around The probe returning from brand-new Zealand (rather than new Holland) and passing by ’Otaheïti’ (Tahiti) come the eastern (rather 보다 the west) shores of phibìc America, collecting a cargo of furs there because that China and then return to England via Canton. Together a route is plainly absurd and must be attributed to misreadings that the German text.

6We now should turn to the first English version. This appeared with the title very first given together The family members Robinson Crusoe: or, newspaper of a father Shipwrecked, v his Wife and Children, on an Uninhabited Island. Translated native the German that M. Wiss. In two volumes (London: M. J. Godwin & Co., 1814). Each volume has a frontispiece and one further illustration design by H. Corbould and also engraved by Springsguth. Volume 1 reflects the household on board the ship in the storm and the landing of the ass, if volume 2 has actually engravings licensed has been granted ’Shooting the Kangaroo’ and also ’The family members Congregation’. The translation is conjecturally attributed to wilhelm Godwin (1756-1836), however it is just ’Translated native the German’ in ~ a remove. The Oxford Companion come Children’s literature correctly states that ’it likewise incorporated several of Mme de Montolieu’s additions’, however closer investigate reveals that the whole book is dependency on Montolieu and also not ~ above the German original. The very title-page provides the video game away: Montolieu spells the author’s name ’Wiss’, when the German offers the editor’s full name ’Joh. Rudolf Wyß’. The English inscription follows the French ’journal d’un père naufragé avec ses enfans’, despite the translator is sufficiently alert to give the wife’s existence some credit. The German sub-title refers to the father as a ’Schweizer-Prediger’, while neither the French no one the English mentions right here that the is a ’preacher’.

7Looking at the yes, really text, we uncover that the number and department of chapters of this first English version correspond exactly to those the the very first two volumes of Montolieu’s French version. This part of the stare covers only thirteen of the fourteen chapters in the an initial volume the the German original. A compare of the chapter-headings in German, French and English makes it plain that the English is in every circumstances a translate into of the French. Moreover, both the French and also the English division the German chapters 11, 12 and also 13 each right into two components with the result that they have actually sixteen chapters to the German thirteen. If the English translator had worked from the German edition, it would have actually been bizarre to analyze only thirteen that the fourteen chapters had in the first volume. The fact that the English text corresponds exactly to the French in its department and numbering of chapters provides the claim to be ’Translated native the German that M. Wiss’ completely disingenuous. The additional statement in ~ the end of volume 2 of Godwin’s publishing is likewise deliberately misleading: ’As soon as the German copy that the continuation can it is in procured, the translate into of the shall it is in made and published’. The 2nd volume the the German message had currently been published in 1813 and was for this reason theoretically, if not practically, available. Presumably Godwin had translated the first half the Montolieu’s version and was still waiting for the second half.

8One of the problems of The Swiss household Robinson from the pedagogical suggest of view is the reality that the fauna and also flora that the island do not complement its supposed location on the globe. Animals, birds and also plants room mentioned, generally for their energy to the family, together though anything might be found anywhere nevertheless of latitude or longitude. One beforehand example is the agouti, a native of south America and the West Indies, i m sorry most kids will only have encountered through The Swiss household Robinson. However, the Swiss writer was not particularly concerned about geographical verisimilitude, and Humboldt’s investigations right into plant and also animal ecology tho lay in the future. Wyss’s aim was to provide not just a lesson in world zoology and botany, but likewise a practical, moral and religious education for the four sons that listened eagerly to his story. The trials and also discoveries the the shipwrecked household were draft to develop up to the facility of a comfortable and also civilized type of life that might be viewed as a new Switzerland, perfect of purity and also the enjoyment of ethical labour. The island was not a actual place, and also it became increasingly unreal with the enhancements made by madame de Montolieu. The hotch-potch of natural life ~ above the island to be criticized through Captain Frederick Marryat, who, in the preface come his very own Robinsonade Masterman prepared (1841-45), asserted that ’it does not adhere to the probable, or also the possible’. This defect, however, does not seem come have affected the continuing popularity that Wyss’s book in its many forms.

9Among the plenty of geographical impossibilities we discover in chapter 6 that Montolieu a small incident in which twelve year old Ernest captures a penguin and also says: ’Oui, mon père, je crois que mon gibier est une espèce de pinguoin, qu’on pourrait distinguer par le surnom de stupide’. Godwin’s translate into reads: ’Yes, father, I believe that the bird which i have captured is a kind of penguin, or we can distinguish the by the castle of Stupid’. The German original has nothing around penguins in the corresponding chapter. There is, however, a short allusion in thing 2, whereby the household is making its first landing on the island: ’Nur das widrige Gekrächz verschiedener Pinguine und einiger Flamingos, dice wir theils fliegend, theils ruhend auf den Felsenspitzen one der Einfahrt der Bucht erblickten, verstimmte in etwas die Harmonie unserer civilisirten Musicanten’. (Only the repulsive croaking of various penguins and some flamingos the we captured sight of, part flying, some relaxing on the point out of rocks at the entrance to the bay, grated a small against the harmony the our polite musicians.) This was presumably the i that prompted Montolieu’s amplification, i beg your pardon then became a firm part of the story. The German message was overtaken in popular by the French and English versions, and when it to be revised by Heinrich Kurz after ~ J. R. Wyss’s death for the 3rd edition (1841-42), this brand-new detail was included with a slim modification: ’Ja, Vater! sagte Ernst, ich glaube mein Wildpret ist eine Boobie, oder ein Dümmling’ (p. 43) (Yes, Father, stated Ernst, i think my game is a booby, or a fool). The booby is a kind of gannet, yet it is hardly much more plausible than a penguin.

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10There space many much more passages in i beg your pardon the French and also English beforehand texts differ from the original German, however the English does have occasional independent additions with no post in Montolieu. Thus, in thing 5 in the passage taking care of breakfast us find:

All this flourished vastly well, and also we sat down to breakfast, part biscuits and a cocoa-nut shell full of salt butter being inserted upon the ground, round which we all assembled, and nobody of us failing native time come time come wish for a fairy’s wand, to have allowed us to add a tiny milk native the cow, or from some cocoa-nuts, come quench our thirst. We however toasted ours biscuit, and also while it to be hot used the butter, and contrived without the fairy’s wand, to make a hearty breakfast.