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The Green Ray by Jules Verne first edition 1883

The Green Ray by Jules Verne first edition 1883


London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1883 


8vo., pictorial yellow cloth by the publisher, stunningly blocked to upper board and spine in gilt and colour (brown, black and green) with an image of a crowd of people contemplating a green flash on the horizon; embossed device to lower board; all edges gilt; pale yellow endpapers; illustrated frontis, title vignette by L. Bennett and a further 43 full page engravings by various artists; a beautiful copy, the cloth remaining bright, and for the most part clean; some light rubbing, spine compressions, and bumps/creases to corners; cloth with very marginal darkening in places; prelims with very light spots; light cracking to the gutter at frontis and final page not affecting overall sturdiness of the text block; a superior example of a scarce work. 


First UK edition, the variant with pale yellow endpapers as opposed to the blue floral ones sometimes found with this work. Issued as such, without the 32 page of advertisements to rear. 


In September 1883 Sampson Low published this first English edition of The Green Ray. Originally appearing in French the previous year with the subtitle and Ten Hours Hunting, it was produced in two 8vo versions priced 5s and 6s respectively, and translated by Mary de Hauteville. The title was also published in the US in the same year, although there is no contemporary hardback American edition. 


Verne took the concept of green flashes, optical phenomenons which appear at sunset or sunrise, as the basis for his next Voyages Extraordinaires title. Most frequently seen from a low altitude with an unobstructed view of the horizon, the ray appears sporadically, and is sometimes seen by aeroplane pilots - in contrast to Verne’s plotline, it is incredibly hard to predict if and when they will appear. Verne chose to craft a story around Helena Campbell, who reads about the ray’s rejuvenating effects on both body and soul in the Morning Post. Accompanied by her two uncles Sam and Sib Melville, she sets off on a journey to discover it for herself. Part travelogue, part romance - her two would-be suitors an artist and an amateur scientist - the novel is one of three which Verne set in Scotland, after being inspired by a short visit he took on a tour by steamer from the Clyde to Oban, Iona, and Staffa. The book was reviewed well in British Papers, with comparisons made with other popular English writers: “"The influence…is evident in this novel. The Scottish setting was derived from the works of Sir Walter Scott. Several characters are reminiscent of personages in Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby” (Gallagher, Mistichelli and Van Eerde).


One of the rarest Jules Verne titles to find in this condition.

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