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The Mighty Orinoco

Jules Verne

Publication Year: 2013

Jules Verne (1828-1905) was the first author to popularize the literary genre of science fiction. Written in 1898 and part of the author's famous series Voyages Extraordinaires, The Mighty Orinoco tells the story of a young man's search for his father along the then-uncharted Orinoco River of Venezuela. The text contains all the ingredients of a classic Verne scientific-adventure tale: exploration and discovery, humor and drama, dastardly villains and intrepid heroes, and a host of near-fatal encounters with crocodiles, jungle fever, Indians and outlaws -- all set in a wonderfully exotic locale. The Mighty Orinoco also includes a unique twist that will appeal to feminists -- readers will need to discover it for themselves. This Wesleyan edition features notes, and a critical introduction by renowned Verne scholar Walter James Miller, as well as reproductions of the illustrations from the original French edition.

CONTRIBUTORS: Walter James Miller, Stanford Luce, Arthur B. Evans.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Early Classics of Science Fiction

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction

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pp. ix

You hold in your hands a work that brings us closer to the climax of a decades-long e¬ort to present the complete and the real Jules Verne to the English-speaking world. For this is the first time that his Le Superbe Orénoque, published in French in 1898, has appeared in English. And add this bonus, perhaps in partial recompense for Anglo- American publishers’ long neglect of the essential Verne: we English speaking admirers can boast that we...

Part One

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Chapter I M. Miguel and His Two Colleagues

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pp. 3-15

“There is not the slightest reason to believe that this discussion can come to an end,” said M. Miguel, who was seeking to intervene between the two fiery discussants. “Well, it won’t end,” answered M. Felipe, “not if it means sacrificing my views to those of M. Varinas!” “Nor by abandoning my ideas for those of M. Felipe!” replied M. Varinas. For nearly three full hours...

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Chapter II Sergeant Martial and His Nephew

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pp. 16-26

The departure of this trio of geographers—a trio whose performers rarely played in tune with each other—was set for August 12, in the middle of the rainy season. The night before, around eight o’clock in the evening, two travelers staying at a hotel in Ciudad Bolívar were chatting in one of their rooms. A light, balmy breeze blew in through the window, which overlooked the Alameda...

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Chapter III On Board the Simón Bolívar

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pp. 27-38

“The Orinoco,” Christopher Columbus wrote in his reports, “flows through a paradise on earth.” The first time Jean quoted this pronouncement by the great Genoese navigator, Sergeant Martial had only one comment: “That remains to be seen.” And in casting doubts on this claim by the famous discoverer of America, he just may have been right. He likewise dismissed as so many legends the belief that the great river led to the golden land...

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Chapter IV First Encounter

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pp. 39-49

Las Bonitas is the base of operation for the military governor over the Caura region and the lands irrigated by this important tributary. The village is on the river’s right bank, almost at the site formerly held by the Spanish mission of Altagracia. The missionaries were the original discoverers of these Latin American provinces, and they were intolerant of competing e¬orts by the British, Germans, and French to convert the wild Indians of the interior...

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Chapter V The Maripare and the Gallinetta

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pp. 50-61

Nestled in a bend of the river, Caicara could not have asked for a better location. Although four hundred kilometers upriver from the Orinoco delta, it is nevertheless situated like a roadside inn at a busy intersection, an excellent position for commercial success. And Caicara is indeed prosperous, in part because of its proximity to the Apure, a tributary located just upstream that serves as a principal trade route between Colombia and Venezuela. The Simón Bolívar reached this freshwater...

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Chapter VI Island after Island

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pp. 62-74

Nestled in a bend of the river, Caicara could not have asked for a better location. Although four hundred kilometers upriver from the Orinoco delta, it is nevertheless situated like a roadside inn at a busy intersection, an excellent position for commercial success. And Caicara is indeed prosperous, in part because of its proximity to the Apure, a tributary located just upstream that serves as a principal trade route between Colombia and Venezuela. The Simón Bolívar reached this freshwater...

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Chapter VII Buena Vista to La Urbana

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pp. 75-85

Disasters were in good supply that night. In its fury, the storm laid waste to a fifteen-kilometer area that extended as far as the mouth of the Arauca River. This was abundantly clear the next day, August 26,1 from the wide variety of debris drifting down the river—whose water, normally so crystalline, had turned the color of mud. If the two boats had not taken refuge in this little harbor, if they had been caught out in the middle of the Orinoco...

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Chapter VIII A Cloud of Dust on the Horizon

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pp. 86-101

One could call La Urbana the capital of the middle Orinoco. It is the most important village between Caicara and San Fernando de Atabapo, each situated at one of the two angles the river makes—the first where it leaves the direction of east to west in order to head south, the second where it leaves the southerly direction to take that of the west to east. It goes without saying that this particular hydrographic disposition is true only if M. Miguel’s opinion...

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Chapter IX Three Boats Navigating Together

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pp. 102-113

Following this extraordinary invasion that had threatened to completely destroy La Urbana, the departure of the falcas was delayed by twenty-four hours. If the intention of the two Frenchmen was to continue their exploration of the Orinoco as far as San Fernando de Atabapo, was it not better to go upriver with them? And, in that case, in order to give them time for rest and to make their preparations, would it not be better to postpone their...

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Chapter X At the Mouth of the Meta

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pp. 114-128

After approaching the left bank of the river, the three boats could now work their way through the Cariben rapids without having to unload their supplies. Around six o’clock in the evening, they came one after the other to anchor at the rear of the little Cariben port. In days gone by, passengers would have found a town in this place with an active population, a certain commercial activity, and the beginnings of prosperity. At present...

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Chapter XI A Halt in the Village of Atures

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pp. 129-143

That same day—September 1—at six o’clock in the morning, the falcas left these dangerous waters. Their passengers and crews had just escaped a massacre, in the very place where so many others had been the victims of these cruel tribes. Truly, thought M. Miguel, since the Congress had voted for the destruction of this mob of accursed Quivas, it was high time to act upon it! “I have only what I deserve!” Sergeant...

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Chapter XII A Few Observations by Germain Paterne

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pp. 144-154

The departure of the three falcas took place the next day at dawn. They had started reloading the equipment on board the afternoon of the preceding day, and, since no damage during the passage of the rapids had occurred, the journey did not need to be delayed for any reason. It is perhaps true that the passengers would be less favored between Atures and the village of San Fernando. The wind, which now tended to diminish in intensity, would not be able to push the falcas against the Orinoco current. At best they,,,

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Chapter XIII Respect for the Tapir

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pp. 155-167

The next morning, September 21, when the travelers left the little port of Mataweni, they were only three and a half days from San Fernando.1 In eighty hours, if no delay came their way, even if the weather was unfavorable, they should be able to reach the end of their journey. The river voyage continued under ordinary conditions—by sail so long as the wind would permit it, with paddles or poles when the falcas encountered the eddies created by the numerous bends in the river, with hauling cables when the poles,,,

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Chapter XIV The Chubasco

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pp. 168-180

At the break of day, when the last constellations were still illuminating the western horizon, the passengers were awakened by the preparations for departure. They were hopeful that this was the last leg—San Fernando was located no more than fifteen kilometers away. The thought of sleeping, that very evening, in real beds was most agreeable indeed. They had spent thirty-one days travelling from Caicara and almost as many...

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Chapter XV San Fernando

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pp. 181-194

The Atabapo and the Guaviare, at the point where they empty into the Orinoco—assuming this hypothesis until being better informed— are separated by a sort of peninsula. The beds of these two tributaries border this peninsula, the first to the east, the second to the west, and its end point faces north. At this location one finds the fluvial crossroad that M. Elisée Reclus has accurately called “the true hydrographic center of the whole region between the Antilles and...

Part TWO

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Chapter I A Few Words about the Past

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pp. 197-209

Around eight o’clock on the morning of October 2, the falcas Gallinetta and Moriche, after descending the branch that runs alongside the peninsula of Atabapo, began to ascend the upper Orinoco under a favorable breeze from the northwest. Since the previous evening, after the conversation between Sergeant Martial and Jacques Helloch, the former could no longer refuse the latter his permission to...

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Chapter II The First Leg of the Journey

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pp. 210-222

Around eight o’clock on the morning of October 2, the falcas Gallinetta and Moriche, after descending the branch that runs alongside the peninsula of Atabapo, began to ascend the upper Orinoco under a favorable breeze from the northwest. Since the previous evening, after the conversation between Sergeant Martial and Jacques Helloch, the former could no longer refuse the latter his permission to...

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Chapter III Two Days in Danaco

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pp. 223-235

For the past few days, a mountain peak that the two skippers, Valdez and Parchal, said was the Yapacana Mountain could be seen on the eastern horizon. They also said that it was haunted, that every year in February and March the spirits light a great fire on its summit, which shines over the entire region and rises to the heavens. The falcas had reached this mountain on the evening of October 11, and the travelers estimated...

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Chapter IV Final Advice from Manuel Assomption

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pp. 236-247

The feelings of Jacques Helloch had changed since Jean had been replaced by Jeanne, since the day when Colonel de Kermor’s daughter, after being saved from the water of the Orinoco, could no longer hide under the mask of this pretended nephew of Sergeant Martial. And it is understandable that the nature of those feelings had not escaped Jeanne, who at age twenty-two had been able to seem only seventeen in a boy’s clothing. Further, Germain Paterne, who “understood nothing about such things,” if we are to believe...

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Chapter V Beef Cows and Electric Eels

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pp. 248-261

And they were under way once again, navigating on the upper course of the river. The travelers were confident that their journey would be successful. They looked forward to reaching the Mission of Santa Juana where, with Heaven’s help, Father Esperante would set them on the right track and where more precise directions would bring them at last to their goal. They also hoped to avoid any encounter with the Alfaniz band, which would seriously compromise the fate of the expedition! That morning,...

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hapter VI Terrible Fears

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pp. 262-276

As long as the Barés remain the Barés, the appearance of those enormous will-o’-the-wisps at the summit of the Cerro Duida will continue to be considered in the region as a funereal portent, a forewarning of imminent catastrophes. In contrast, as long as the Mariquitares remain Mariquitares, this phenomenon will be interpreted as the harbinger of good fortune to come. Those two Indian tribes have therefore very opposite ways of envisaging the forecasts of...

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chapter VII The Campsite near Maunoir Peak

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pp. 277-287

...right bank, with a height of?fteen hundred meters. A chain ofmoun-tains, extending from its enormous mass like an unshakable buttress,At some eighty kilometers from there stands Ferdinand de Lessepsgraphic system of Venezuela features its highest points. There enor-mous stone arches soar up, winding ridges intersect, and the impos-...

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Chapter VIII The Young Indian

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pp. 288-298

“Gunfire!” exclaimed Jacques Helloch. “And less than three hundred paces from us!” replied Valdez. “Do you think that Sergeant Martial might have gone hunting after we left?” “No, I don’t think so.” “Can it be the Indian who no doubt owns this hut?” “Well, first let’s see if it was inhabited,” replied the skipper of the Gallinetta. Having gone a few steps outside when they heard the gunshot, they both reentered the straw hut. The interior was as wretched...

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Chapter IX Across the Sierra

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pp. 299-310

At six o’clock in the morning, Jacques Helloch and his companions started out from the campsite near Maunoir Peak, their falcas left under the guard of Parchal, in whom they had full confidence. Parchal had under his orders the boatmen of the Gallinetta and of the Moriche, fifteen men in all. The two others would accompany the travelers and carry their supplies. It was agreed that, if they were attacked and if Parchal felt unable to defend himself against either the natives or Alfaniz’s Indians, he should abandon the campsite and, if possible, try to reach the Mission of Santa Juana. Jacques Helloch felt assured...

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Chapter X The Ford of Frascaès

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pp. 311-322

At five o’clock, the campsite was astir. The first to get up was Jean. While he was coming and going along the shore of the rio, Sergeant Martial, Germain Paterne, and the young Indian were still asleep under their blankets with hats over their eyes. The boatman on guard at the edge of the shore, after having approached Jacques Helloch and Valdez, told them what he had observed during his watch. He confirmed what Valdez had stated: he, too, had recognized Jorrès as the man who was skulking along the bank of the Torrida. Jacques Helloch recommended...

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Chapter XI The Mission of Santa Juana

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pp. 323-336

Thirteen years before the beginning of this story, the region which the Rio Torrida crossed possessed neither a village nor a ranch, nor a settlement of any kind. The Indians only crossed it when necessity obliged them to take their cattle to the mountains during the summer months. On the surface of these territories, there was nothing but vast plains, fertile but uncultivated, impenetrable forests, and swampy estuaries, inundated in the winter by the overflow of neighboring streams. Nothing but...

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Chapter XII En Route

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pp. 337-347

After such precise answers from the young Indian, and without a moment’s hesitation, it was decided that they would rescue those Frenchmen who were prisoners of the Quivas. The missionary would have set o¬ that very evening and would have dashed across the savanna, if he had only known what direction to pursue them. Indeed, where was Alfaniz now? Near the ford of Frascaès? No! According to Gomo’s story, he...

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Chapter XIII Two Months at the Mission

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pp. 348-360

Fourteen years had passed since the disappearance of Colonel de Kermor and his departure for the New World. The history of those fourteen years can be told in a few lines. In 1872, he learned about the wreck of the Norton and that his wife and his child had perished in that maritime disaster. The circumstances following the catastrophe prevented him from realizing that one of these two beings...

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Chapter XIV Au Revoir!

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pp. 361-370

On the morning of December 25, the falcas were ready to begin their voyage downriver.1 At that time of the year, floods had not yet raised the level of the Orinoco. It had therefore been necessary to haul the Gallinetta and the Moriche five kilometers downstream, to the mouth of a small rio on the right bank, where the water was deep enough. From this point on, they would risk...

Notes

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pp. 371-394

Bibliography

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pp. 395-416

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Jules Gabriel Verne

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pp. 417-424

Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, to a middle-class family in the port city of Nantes, France. His mother, Sophie, née Allotte de la Fuÿe, was the daughter of a prominent family of shipowners, and his father, Pierre Verne, was an attorney and the son of a Provins magistrate. Jules was the eldest of five children. In addition to his three sisters—Anna, Mathilde, and Marie—he had a younger brother, Paul, to whom he was very close. Paul eventually became a naval engineer. As a child and young man, Jules was a relatively conscientious student. Although far from the top...

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About the contributors

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pp. 425-430

Arthur B. Evans is professor of French at DePauw University and managing editor of the scholarly journal Science Fiction Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Verne and early French science fiction, including the award-winning Jules Verne Rediscovered (Greenwood, 1988). He is general editor of the Wesleyan Early...


E-ISBN-13: 9780819574572
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819565112

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Early Classics of Science Fiction