22 December, 2006

The Illustrators of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires

Jules Verne’s original Voyages Extraordinaires contained over four thousand illustrations—an average of 60+ per novel in the popular Hetzel red and gold “luxury” French editions. These Victorian-looking wood-cut plates and maps constituted an integral part of Verne’s early sf oeuvre and, intercalated into the text at intervals of every 6-8 pages, they provided a powerful and omnipresent visual support structure to the text’s fictional narrative, its embedded pedagogical lessons, and its “arm-chair voyage” exoticism.

This article discusses the many varieties and functions of the illustrations in Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaires, the talented artists and engravers who produced them, their collaborative working relationship with Verne and the editor Hetzel, and the technological evolution of this craft itself from Verne’s earliest works in the 1860s to his final posthumous novel published in 1919.

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