Translated into English by William H. G. Kingston from the French translation by Mme la Baronne Isabelle de Montolieu of the original Der Schweizerische Robinson, Oder der Schriffbruchige Schweizerprediger und Seine Familie.
Converted to electronic format by Michael K. Johnson
This is perhaps the favorite of many English translations and adaptations of The Swiss Family Robinson. Johann David Wyss, a Swiss pastor, originally wrote it to entertain and instruct his four sons. Years later, his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, by then a professor of philosophy, convinced his father to allow him to rewrite and edit the unfinished manuscript.
Many translators would be better styled ``adaptors,'' since most were quite ready to remove some passages and add others at their own whim, and to change the sense of passages with which they were at odds. For example, where this version says, ``Much as I wished that we could obtain a constant supply of these fish fresh, I was obliged to reject the naïve proposal from Jack, that we should tether a shoal of salmon by the gills to the bottom of the bay as we had secured the turtles,'' another version asserts that they indeed followed Jack's proposal.
In this light, it becomes obvious that Walt Disney's very free adaptation of the book for film was, suprisingly, a very traditional handling of the story. Even the original story followed this model, as it was very much inspired in many details by Robinson Crusoe.
I scanned the Puffin Classics edition, ISBN 0-14-035044-6, which is one of the more readably typeset of the many editions of this book currently in print. I spent some time browsing as many editions as I could find, and Puffin's was definitely the best paperback edition in every way, from quality of paper to quality of typesetting.
I'd like to commend them for putting significant work into doing a good job of a book whose text is in the public domain, and for not attempting to assert copyright on the contents, as so many unscrupulous publishers do by adding a few unreadable essays or by attempting to assert copyright on a few spelling changes. I relinquish to the public domain all copyright claim to these few paragraphs I have written. You may use this document in any way you like. If you change it, please attribute your changes to yourself, and not to me.
Please assume that typos and spelling mistakes in this electronic edition are only mine--and tell me about them so that I can fix them.