Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
No unabridged edition of Swiss Family Robinson exists in English. Indeed, the book has been rewritten so many times, by so many editors, that it can legitimately be said that that no complete edition of the book exists in any language.
Johann David Wyss, a Swiss pastor, originally wrote this book to entertain and instruct his four sons. Years later, his son Johann (or Jean--accounts differ) Rudolf Wyss, by then a professor of philosophy, persuaded his father to allow him to complete and edit the unfinished manuscript. It was published in two volumes in Zurich in 1812-1813.
Its French translator, Mme de Montholieu, obtained permission to greatly enlarge the book. It was published in five volumes from 1824 through 1826. The first English edition, abridged, was published in 1814; it was followed by several other English translations of varying quality. In 1849 W. H. G. Kingston re-translated, and greatly abridged, Mme. De Montholieu's version. Most English versions are based on Kingston's abridged version.
Despite a vast number of amusing errors in flora and fauna, the book has entertained, and warmed the hearts of, many generations. However, most modern editions omit an incredible amount even of Kingston's translation by making small cuttings here and there, some of them maddeningly inept. The Editor's Cut edition from Pink Tree Press has been based on, and compared with, no fewer than five previous editions, all of them out of copyright. Most, though not all, of the cuttings have been restored. The material that continues to be omitted is of little imaginable interest to anyone other than a scholar of nineteenth century literature.
Paragraphing has been redone in order to facilitate ease of reading. Some archaic spelling and grammar have been retained, as they are part of the flavor of the book; they have been changed where necessary for clarity. The British-style punctuation has been retained. The lengthy and unnecessary chapter headings have been omitted. Some parenthetical information is provided, most often to define words no longer to be found in many English dictionaries.
Anne Wingate, Ph.D.