The Self-Propelled Island

9780803245822: Hardback
Release Date: 1st July 2015

9780803276710: Paperback
Release Date: 1st July 2015

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 352

Series Bison Frontiers of Imagination

UNP - Bison Books

The Self-Propelled Island

Written by
Jules Verne
Translated by
Marie-Thérèse Noiset
Introduced by
Volker Dehs
Hardback / £24.99
Paperback / £15.99

The Self-Propelled Island is the first unabridged English translation of Jules Verne’s original story featuring a famous French string quartet that is abducted by an American businessman and taken to Standard Island to perform for its millionaire inhabitants. The quartet soon discovers that Standard Island is not an island at all, but an immense, futuristic ship possessing all the features of an idyllic haven.  Equipped with the most opulent amenities, Standard Island travels the Pacific Ocean, traversing the south archipelagos and stopping at many “sister” islands for the pleasure of its well-heeled inhabitants. These inhabitants soon meet with the danger, in its various forms, that is inherent in ocean travel. Meanwhile, the French quartet is witness to the rivalry that exists between the two most powerful families onboard, a rivalry that keeps the future of the island balancing on the edge of a knife.


First published in English in 1896, the novel was originally censored in translation. Dozens of pages were cut from the story because English translators felt they were too critical of Americans as well as the British. Here, for the first time, readers have the pleasure of reading The Self-Propelled Island as Verne intended it.

Introduction by Volker Dehs
Translator’s Note
Part One
I. The Concerting Quartet
II. The Power of a Cacophonous Sonata
III. A Chatty Mentor
IV. The Concerting Quartet Disconcerted
V. Standard Island and Milliard City
VI. Invitees . . . Inviti
VII. Heading West
VIII. Navigation
IX. The Hawaiian Archipelago
X. Crossing the Line
XI. The Marquesas Islands
XII. Three Weeks in the Tuamotus
XIII. Stopping at Tahiti
XIV. Parties and More Parties
Part Two
I. In the Cook Islands
II. From Island to Island
III. Concert at the Court
IV. British Ultimatum
V. The Taboo at Tonga Tabu
VI. A Collection of Wild Animals
VII. The Hunt
VIII. The Fiji Islands and Their Inhabitants
IX. A Casus Belli
X. Change of Owners
XI. Offense and Defense
XII. Taking the Helm, Starboard or Larboard?
XIII. The Last Word by Pinchinat
XIV. Denouement

Jules Verne (1828–1905), the world’s most translated author, wrote numerous classics of adventure and science fiction, including The Meteor Hunt, Lighthouse at the End of the World, The Golden Volcano, and Magellania, which are all available from the University of Nebraska Press. Marie-Thérèse Noiset is a professor emerita of French and translation at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has also translated Caught in the Storm by Seydou Badian. Volker Dehs is a German literary critic and leading Jules Verne specialist and biographer.

“…[I]n The Self-Propelled Island, published much later, in 1895, this optimism is tempered with a greater sense of realism; now technology is primarily an enabler of hubris. […] it is [still] possible to read these books and admire alternative visions of the future created by nineteenth-century minds.” - Pippa Goldschmidt, Times Literary Supplement, April 2016

“We’re in the midst of a marvelous Verne renaissance. . . . The Self-Propelled Island is a novel of great appeal, especially to Americans: by sending northern and southern aristocrats to sea in literally the same boat, it not only features one of Verne’s fabulous futuristic vehicles but also unfolds one of his shrewdest, wittiest political satires.”—Frederick Paul Walter, Verne translator and former vice president of the North American Jules Verne Society

Frederick Paul Walter