"Enormously popular, French author Jules
Gabriel Verne (1828-1905) is one of the founders of modern science
fiction. A prolific writer, Verne's tales of adventure caught the
enterprising spirit of the 19th century and its uneritical fascination
with exploration and scientific progress. Many of his ideas have been
hailed as prophetic: his novels explored space, air, and underwater travel
long before they became commonplace."
Mathias Sandorf is Jules Verne’s 27th novel in the series
Voyages". With a dedication to his friend Alexander Dumas, Jr. (son of
the famous author), the plot is inspired by the great Dumas classic The
Count of Monte Cristo. He wrote:
Je vous dédie ce livre en le
dédiant aussi à la mémoire du conteur de génie que fut Alexandre Dumas,
votre père. Dans cet ouvrage, j'ai essayé de faire de Mathias Sandorf le
Monte-Cristo des Voyages Extraordinaires. Je vous prie d'en accepter la
dédicace comme un témoignage de ma profonde amitié.
The reply from M.A. Dumas, June 23, 1885:
[I dedicate this book to you while dedicating it also to the
memory of that genius of a storytell who was Alexandre Dumas, your
father. In this work, I have tried to make of Mathias Sandorf the
Monte Cristo of the Extraordinary Voyages. I also ask you
to accept this dedication as a testimony of my deepest friendship.]
Je suis très touché de la bonne pensée que vous avez eue de me dédier
Mathias Sandorf, dont je vais commencer la lecture dès mon retour,
vendredi ou samedi. Vous avez eu raison, dans votre dédicace, d'associer
la mémoire du père à l'amitié du fils. Personne n'eût été plus charmé
que l'auteur de Monte-Cristo par la lecture de vos fantaisies
lumineuses, originales, entraînantes. Il y a entre vous et lui une
parenté littéraire si évidente que, littérairement parlant, vous êtes
plus son fils que moi. Je vous aime depuis si longtemps, qu'il me va
très bien d'être votre frère.
Je vous remercie de votre persévérante affection, et je vous assure
une fois de plus et bien chaudement de la mienne.
[My dear friend,
I am very touched by the thought of
dedicating Mathias Sandorf tome, which I wil begin to read upon
my return, Friday or Saturday. You were right, in your dedication, to
associate the memory of the father to the friendship of the son.No one
would have been more charmed than the author of Monte Cristo, in
reading your brilliant, original, and engaging adverntures. There is
between the two of you a literary kinship so obvious that, in terms of
literature, you are more his son than I am. I have loved you for a long
time and I delight in being your brother.
I thank you for your perservering
affection and return it warmly.]
Mathias Sandorf was first published in 1885 by Hetzel in Paris with
111 illustrations by Leon Bennett and one map. The original edition was
552 pages. The publisher included a map for each of the "Extraordinary
Voyages". Mathias Sandorf in 1885 had the following "Carte de la Méditerranée":
Verne claimed that Sandorf was modeled on his publisher. Like Hetzel, a
former exile, Sandorf has fervent patriotism and a high moral sense. Dr
Antekirtt is a mixture of Hetzel and Bixio, one of the publisher's
friends. Others see similarities with Hungarian freedom fighter Lajos
Kossuth and Austrian prince Louis Salvator.
The action moves from
Trieste down the Adriatic coast, to Sicily and
the shores of North Africa. "I wish my readers to learn everything they
should know about the Mediterranean," Verne wrote Hetzel," which is why
the action transports them to twenty different places." (Simon Vierne,
Jules Verne, Paris Ballard 1986) Several of the settings come from
Verne's own travels, a rescue during a storm off Malta and visits to
Catania and Etna.
Verne researched the Italian landscape by rereading some of Stendhal's
works notably Promenades in Rome and The Charterhourse of Parma.
Verne may have first heard about the Foiba beneath
Pisino castle in
Charles Yriatre’s works Les Bords de l'Adriatique (The Ports of the
Adriatic) - (Hachette, Paris 1878) and Trieste e l'Istria (Trieste
and Istria) - (Hachette, Paris 1875).
Yriatre described the old castle
as well as his trip down into the gorge. He also mentioned an experiment
by a young nobleman, Count Esdorff, to find the end of the underground
river. Unfortunately the count's boat never made it out of the underground
Mathias Sandorf was performed as a five-act play in Paris in the
1880s, and even played the Boston theatre in the fall of 1888. There
have also been three screen adaptations:
- 1921 - directed by Henri Fescourt and starring Yvette Andréyor,
Romuald Joubé and Jean Toulout.
- 1962/3 - directed by Georges Lampin and starring Louis Jourdan,
Francisco Rabal, Renaud Mary and Serena Vergano
- 1979/80 - a TV miniseries made for French television, directed
by Jean-Pierre Decourt and starring Hungarian actor Istvan Bujtor as
Mathias Sandorf, Ivan Desny as Zathmar, and also Amadeus August,
Claude Giraud, Monika Peitsch, Sissy Höfferer and Jacques Breuer.
Since the original release in France, Mathias Sandorf has been
translated over the years in many countries and also in
countless paperback and children's editions, including in Argentina,
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, United
Kingdom, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States of America,
but the first Croatian translation only came 103 years later in 1988.
Croatian edition contains the 111 illustrations by Leon Benett for the
original version. As
Verne described in his words, so Benett described in his images the Istrian and
Dalmatian locations on the Adriatic coast that are visited in the book:
Trieste, Buje (Buie),
Pazin (Pisino), Lim Canal (Canale Leme), Rovinj (Rovigno), Dubrovnik
(Ragusa), Gruz and Boka Kotorska.
2007, ROH re-released the English version in Paperback edition (ISBN:
978-0-9782707-0-4),. It contains 496 pages with 111 illustrations by Leon
whole novel in French at
http://jv.gilead.org.il/zydorczak/sand00.html, English at
https://archive.org/details/mathiassandorfp00verngoog and in Russian
Trieste, 1867. Two petty criminals, Sarcany and
Zirone, intercept a carrier pigeon. They find a ciphered message attached
to its leg and uncover a plot to liberate Hungary from Austro-Hungarian
rule. The two meet with Silas Toronthal, a corrupt banker, and form a plan
to deliver the conspirators to the police in exchange for a rich reward.
The three conspirators, Count Sandorf, Stephen Bathory and Ladislas
Zathmar are arrested and sentenced to death.
Fifteen years later, the renowned physician Dr.
Antekirtt sets out to avenge those three brave men. Enlisting the aid of
two French acrobats, Pescade and Matifou, he scours the Mediterranean in
search of those who planned the betrayal. Rich beyond all imagination,
wielding great power and master of an island fortress filled with advanced
weaponry, Dr. Antekirtt will not rest until justice is done.
This edition is set from George Hanna’s original translation, with slight
adjustments, modifications and restorations. It is the first time Mathias
Sandorf has been reprinted with all 111 illustrations since the Sampson,
Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington Edition of 1889. The layout has been
restored to Verne's original 5 act structure as set in Hetzel's first
The Wanderer's Tale: An Adventure
In the generation after Dumas, Jules Verne wrote
a number of Wanderer adventures. Three of the most notable, Michael
Strogoff, the Steam House (La machine a vapeur) and Mathias Sandorf, are
set in three of Europe's great Empires: the Russian, the British (in
India), and the Austrian. Their plots and themes have a good deal in
common, as Jean Yves Tadie points out. Each one is about the empire's
political troubles, each features a pursuer who is himself pursued, each
has a trio of characters at its centre and each grants minor importance
(compared with other Verne books) to machinery.
[From Seven Types of Adventure: An Eniology of Major Genre by
Martin Green Penn State Press.]
Mathias Sandorf: Some back story
and little known facts
Mathias Sandorf was Jules Verne’s last collaboration with Pierre-Jules
Hetzel, the publisher passing away a year after the novel went to press.
Verne had originally planned a darker tale, with Sandorf, like Monte
Cristo, bent on revenge. After much prodding, Verne was convinced to
change tone; his protagonist would seek justice, a nobler pursuit.
Sandorf had been Verne’s most ambitious novel to date. It
contained the largest cast of characters he’d ever brought to life,
and the action took place in over 20 cities around the
Mediterranean. Verne was fascinated by the beauty of the Great Sea
and wanted to share it with his readers. Verne often stated that the
inspiration for the novel came during a family cruise to Tanger and
Malta aboard his yacht the
Saint Michel. The storm off Malta
described in Part III is based on his own real experiences aboard
Verne may have
first heard about the Foiba beneath
Pisino castle in
works Les Bords de l'Adriatique (The Ports of the
Adriatic) - (Hachette, Paris 1878) and Trieste e l'Istria
(Trieste and Istria) - (Hachette, Paris 1875).
Yriatre described the
old castle as well as his trip down into the gorge. He also mentioned an
experiment by a young nobleman, Count Esdorff, to find the end of the
underground river. Unfortunately the count's boat never made it out of the
Famous for his detailed research, Jules Verne collected all available
information about the places he described. While preparing to write the
huge three-volume novel Mathias Sandorf, he wrote a letter to the mayor of
Pisino, Giuseppe Cech, asking if he could add to Yriarte's research. Mr
Cech provided the information and sent Verne several photographs of the
city which may have later been used as the basis for Leon Benett’s
wonderful illustrations. Two years later, Jules Verne sent the mayor a
first edition of Mathias Sandorf with a hand written dedication:
"Au Podestat de Pisino - Hommage de l’auteur - Jules Verne - Paris, 22
[From La Foiba di Pisino by Nerina Feresini (Trieste, 1972).]
There have been translations in many
languages and in a variety of editions, both for children and adults. Information on which can be found elsewhere. [See:
Worldwide Bibliography of Mathias Sandorf at
http://www.ice.hr/davors/msbiblio.htm.] We offer below information only for those in Croatian, English
2007 Paperback edition
New York, G. Munro (New
York, 1885), 3 volumes in 1, illus. 33 cm.
- June 1976: Paperback,
ISBN: 0-686-55933-9 (USA edition),
Publisher: French & European Pubns
- October 1978: Paperback, ISBN: 0-7859-1363-7 (USA edition),
Publisher: French & European Pubns
March 2007: Paperback,
ISBN: 0-9782707-0-3 /
Publisher: ROH Press Classics.
GREAT BRITAIN (4):
Mathias Sandorf, Sampson Low (Part 1
and 2, without dust cover) Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and
Rivington (London, 1886) VIII + 192 + 200 p. (This is a very thick book containing the George Hanna
translation that opens with: "Trieste, the capital of Illyria, consists of
Mathias Sandorf, Sampson Low
(London, 1888), Part 1: "The
Trieste" (192 pages) and Part 2: "The Captives of
Antekirtta" (199 pages).
Sandorf, Part 1 (The Conspirators of
Trieste), Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington (London, 1889), some illustrations; and
Sandorf, Part 2 (The Captives of Antekirtta), Sampson Low (London,
1889), some illustrations
Mathias Sandorf, Sampson Low (London,