Jim's Reviews > Lighthouse at the End of the World: The First English Translation of Verne's Original Manuscript

Lighthouse at the End of the World by Jules Verne
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Dec 27, 11

bookshelves: adventure, france
Read from December 23 to 27, 2011

I read this book because I was recently (November 2011) in Tierra Del Fuego, about 200 miles west from where the action of The Lighthouse at the End of the World was set. It is one of Jules Verne's last novels and currently exists in two versions, one of which was heavily edited by Jules's son after his death. I chose to go with the author's own version.

The setting is Isla de los Estados (a.k.a. Staten Island, not to be confused with the one in New York Harbor). The Argentinian navy has set up a lighthouse on the eastern end of the island to light the way for ships to avoid the dangerous rocks and reefs around the island while they were heading toward the Drake Passage or the Beagle Channel.

Even as the lighthouse was being set up, at the other end of the island was a gang of pirates who lured ships to their doom, murdered any surviving crew, and stole whatever of the cargo had value. The existence of a lighthouse would make it difficult for the pirates to continue their depredations. Suddenly, a sailing ship of 160 tons wrecked on the island with only minimal damage. The only place where the pirates could effect repairs was a bay directly in sight of the lighthouse staff.

When two of the lighthouse personnel investigate the activity, they are shot. The remaining lighthouse keeper is Vasquez, their leader, who escapes to avoid sharing their fate. He finds a hiding place, raids the pirates cave for food, and teams up with a shipwreck survivor from an American freighter to delay the sailing of the pirate's vessel until such time as the Argentinean navy would send an armored vessel with a replacement lighthouse crew.

Lighthouse is an exciting adventure story that shows that Verne was still on his game even as his body was succumbing to illness. While it is not one of his better known works and lacks some of the sci-fi whiz-bang effects of some of his works, it is a capable and even exciting adventure story which deserves to be read.
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