Swiss Family Robinson

 

Swiss Family Robinson

Swiss Family Robinson is a true classic novel which was first published in 1812.  The story is about a family from Switzerland that was shipwrecked on an uninhabited desert island near New Guinea.  They were on the way to Port Jackson, Australia which was to be their new home after losing their fortunes as a result of the Swiss Revolution of 1798.  This revolution was highly influenced by Napoleon's French revolution.  The family consisted of the father, mother, and four sons.  They were able to survive and eventually thrive on the island utilizing the ship's supplies, reliance on each other, prayer, their vast knowledge, and the island resources.  In fact, the island became a paradise where they eventually found everything they needed.

The novel was written Johann David Wyss who was a Swiss pastor and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss.  Unfortunately, the story had an abrupt finish since the author passed away before completing it.  The first English translation was completed by William Godwin in 1814.  By the mid 19th century there were numerous English translations with several variations. Many of the translations, including the version that you can read on this site, were based on the popular French edition written by the Baroness de Montolieu who provided a conclusion to the novel with permission from JR Wyss.  However, JR was not satisfied with her ending and thus wrote his own, which is the most widely known ending.

Lost in translation is the meaning of the title "Swiss Family Robinson".   It is not about a family named Robinson, especially since Robinson is not a Swiss name.  The title implies the Swiss Family version of Robinson Crusoe.

Film and TV.  Several adaptations of the novel were made for film or TV.  The most popular film version was produced by Disney in 1960 and directed by Ken Annakin. An earlier version was released by RKO and directed by Edward Ludwig in 1940. The most popular TV adaptation was made in 1975, starring Martin Milner.

E-book.  The e-book in this site is from the digitized 1851 translated English version.  The original source is kept at one of the University of Florida libraries.