24 December 2008

The return of Kip Bros. 43 years later

I finally finished reading last nite a book that was given to me as a present by my late aunt 43 years ago. Back in 1965, I had already read and enjoyed the Turkish translations of some of the more popular books of Jules Verne, including Five Weeks in a Balloon and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. But The Kip Brothers, or Kip Kardeşler, either didn't sound as exciting as the others or was more difficult for me to follow at that young age. So the 2 unread volumes just sat on bookcases for all these years slowly crumbling and yellowing. Amazingly, they were not thrown out, given away or lost.

Kip1

When I found them on a bookshelf in Mom's condo in Turkey back in October, I decided the time had come to read Kip Kardeşler. So I took the books with me.

I am sorry to say it was a tedious read. Verne's style was boring; he was repetitious and took too long to get to the point. Besides, there were long discourses on the geography and history of the southeast Pacific, international politics and the Fenians, while the Kip Brothers didn't even enter the story until chapter 7. On top of everything else, the translation was bad.

The story started out as a maritime adventure, then turned into a murder "mystery", although the identities of the murderers were revealed as they were committing it. The Kip Brothers got wrongly accused of the crime and spent a long time (the final third of the book) to clear their name. Verne's weakness was that he told too much to his readers and left very little to the imagination. He explained everything in detail even when what he was explaining was obvious. In this case, he would have crafted a much better story if he had hidden the identities of the murderers from his readers.

The climax of The Kip Brothers was a real letdown. I had been disappointed with Verne's science once before, but his resorting at the end of this book to the ridiculous late 19th century claim that a dead person's eyes retained an image of the last thing he saw took almost all the joy out of finishing it.

Incidentally, the Turkish translation of The Kip Brothers published in 1964 predates by 44 years the 1st English translation that came out in 2007 (available at Amazon).

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