bibliofagos (bookworm)

Upside down, with Jules...

I must be a very lucky guy as the first book I read from Jules Verne was translated by Nikos Kazantzakis. The latter was always present in my parents' house library - honouring our home town of Crete and therefore his language and style of writing was very familiar - along with "A Guide to explaining your Dreams", "A Guide to behaving well for young girls" (a paperback copy poorly maintained) and a book with food recipes, which my mother always had to check when making pancakes for the family.
Jules Verne's "Topsy Turvy" translated by Nikos Kazantzakis in greek language, came wrapped in a colourful packaging - as for the actual book cover, its colourful as well. And what it achieved with me, was a very good shake in my relationship with books. To start off with, it's the first book I read which wasn't in my school reading list and I actually understood (well, don't expect me to have understood anything about "Askitiki" at the age of 8). It was 31 years ago, on my birthday. Moreover, as soon as I realised that it was the first in a series of 50 books, I developed a form of psychosis with all of them. I immediately announced to parents, uncles, aunts and cousins that the only acceptable present for my birthdays, name days, national celebrations and out of the blue happenings, would be one book from the series (my wish list since 1974!).
This series was composed by 50 fiction books which lent their name to the title, but as I came to realise later on, most of them included a novel or short story which had no reference to the title. The books were bound with thick card, colour front cover and an extra cover made of shiny paper with the same design as the book cover printed on it. Some of the books were translated by Nikos Kazantzakis and some other translators and some were done by another also remarkable translator, Paul Minestrel who was probably the main one as well (I can still remember most of his introductions).
Oh my, I still wonder if there is something I have not done to get these books. Exchanges with classmates who I accidentally found out had one of the books from the series. Saving my pocket money for quite some time in order to be able to afford one of the books, with my goal being to fill the gaps in the number sequence of the ones I owned already, i.e if I had numbers 25 and 28, I had to first acquire 26 and 27. I even breached my good manners for my good friend Jules, by actually not returning a book I had borrowed (and, you have to believe me, that was the only time it happened).
It goes without saying, of course, that I had read all of the books in the series long before I could actually afford them. As time went by, my enthusiasm for this series calmed down, as I had started reading works from other writers too, so I never managed to actually complete it. I only have thirty six books, out of the fifty. I don't really know, to be honest, if the series still exists or if it's publishing was continued by the Publisher, but maybe in another form. However, whenever I come across one of the books of the series in an old bookshop, the first thing that comes to my mind is whether or not I have it and that I know what present my children will get from me in order to start their own personal library at some later stage. It will be those...36 out of the 50 books, my experiences of which I have shared with you, as this year is the 100th anniversary since the death of our beloved Jules Verne and here are the 50 titles.

1. Five Weeks in a Balloon
2. Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras
3. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth
4. From the Earth to the Moon
5. The Children Of Captain Grant
6. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
7. Round the Moon
8. Floating City
9. Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians
10. The Fur Country
11. Around the World in Eighty Days
12. The Mysterious Island
13. The Survivors Of The Chancellor
14. Michel Strogoff
15. Hector Servadac
16. The Underground City
17. A Captain at Fifteen
18. The Begum's Fortune
19. Tribulations Of A Chinaman
20. The Steam House
21. Eight Hundred Leagues On The Amazon
22. The Robinson Crusoe School
23. The Green Ray
24. Keraban the Inflexible
25. The Southern Star
26. The Archipelago on Fire
27. Mathias Sandorf
28. The Lottery Ticket
29. Robur The Conqueror
30. North Against South
31. The Flight to France
32. Two Years Holiday
33. Family Without a Name
34. Topsy Turvy
35. Caesar Cascabel
36. Mistress Branican
37. The Castle of the Carpathians
38. Claudius Bombarnac
39. Little Fellow
40. Captain Antifer
41. Propeller Island
42. Facing the Flag
43. Clovis Dardentor
44. The Sphinx of the Ice
45. The Superb Orinoco
46. The Will of an Eccentric
47. Second Fatherland
48. The Aerial Village
49. Master of the World
50. The Kip Brothers

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