Hector Servadac: or the Career of a Comet

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Author: Verne, Jules Gabriel (1828-1905)

Year: 1878

Publisher: Scribner, Armstrong & Company

Place: New York

370+[2 ad] pages with frontispiece and illustrations. Octavo (8 ¼” x 5 ½”) bound in original publisher’s red pictorial beveled edge covers with front and spine lettered and illustrated in gold and black. Rear stamped in blind with decorative border design. Translated by Ellen E Frewer. From the John A Roebling library. (Gallagher, Mistichelli and van Eerde A42) First illustrated American Edition, published simultaneously with the English edition in November 1877 (although dated 1878).

The story starts with a comet called Gallia, that touches the Earth in its flight and collects a few small chunks of it. The disaster occurred on January 1 of the year 188x in the area around Gibraltar. On the territory that was carried away by the comet there remained a total of thirty-six people of French, English, Spanish and Russian nationality. These people did not realize at first what had happened, and considered the collision an earthquake. They first noticed weight loss: Captain Servadac's adjutant Ben Zoof to his amazement, jumped twelve meters high. Zoof with Servadac also soon noticed that the alternation of day and night is shortened to six hours, that east and west changed sides, and that water begins to boil at 66 degrees Celsius, from which they rightly deduced that atmosphere became thinner and pressure dropped. At the beginning of their stay in Gallia they noticed the Earth with the Moon, but thought it was an unknown planet. Other important information was obtained through their research expedition with a ship, which the comet also took. During the voyage they discovered a mountain chain blocking the sea, which they initially considered to be the Mediterranean Sea and then they found the island of Formentera (before the catastrophe a part of the Balearic Islands), where they found a French astronomer Palmyrin Rosette, who helped them to solve all the mysterious phenomena. They were all on the comet which was discovered by Rosette a year ago and predicted a collision course with Earth, but no one believed the astronomer, because a layer of thick fog at the time prevented astronomical observations in other places.

The English translation by Ellen E. Frewer, was published in England by Sampson Low (November 1877), and the U.S. by Scribner Armstrong with the title Hector Servadac; Or the Career of a Comet. The Frewer translation alters the text considerably with additions and emendations, paraphrases dialogue, and rearranges material, although the general thread of the story is followed. At the same time George Munro in New York published an anonymous translation in a newspaper format as #43 of his Seaside Library books. This is the only literal translation containing all the dialogue and scientific discussions. Unfortunately the translation stops after Part II Chapter 10, and continues with the Frewer translation. The same year a still different translation by Edward Roth was published in Philadelphia by Claxton, Remsen, and Heffelfinge in two parts. Part I (October, 1877) was entitled To the Sun and Part II (May, 1878) Off on a Comet. This was reprinted in 1895 by David McKay.

John Augustus Roebling (born Johann August Röbling; June 12, 1806 – July 22, 1869) was a German-born American civil engineer. He designed and built wire rope suspension bridges , in particular the Brooklyn Bridge, which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.


Christmas gift inscription to John Roebling from his aunt to front end paper dated 1877. Spine age toned, recased else a very good copy.

SOLD 2017

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