A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder
  • Publication Date: October 12, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781551119595 / 1551119595
  • 352 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder

  • Publication Date: October 12, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781551119595 / 1551119595
  • 352 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Drifting on a sailing boat off the Canary Islands, four British gentlemen take turns reading a manuscript that they find inside a copper cylinder discovered floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The manuscript recounts Adam More’s adventures after being lost at sea during an Antarctic voyage in 1844 and his life with the Kosekin, a lost civilization living at the South Pole. The values of the Kosekin are opposed to the civilized norm—they love death, abjection, and poverty. Their society may be well suited to their particular evolution, but it is profoundly disconcerting to the narrator, and it is radically contentious to the Victorian gentlemen who read and debate More’s account.

This Broadview edition of James De Mille’s classic recreates the format of the posthumous 1888 Harper’s Weekly serial, including 18 original illustrations by Gilbert Gaul. The appendices allow the novel to be seen in terms of other satirical and scientific romance, Antarctic exploration, and contemporary geology. The introduction and notes tap into recent scholarship to bring to life De Mille’s genre innovations and his use of Orientalist and colonialist discourses.


“Daniel Burgoyne’s Broadview edition of A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder is a refreshing, re-energised insight into an old classic. It is both scholarly and accessible, bringing important scholarship, key graphics, and of course the work itself, into fresh perspective. What I especially value is the way the volume will appeal to both general readers and critics, and the way that more recent scholarship on the novel has been updated and synthesized to produce new understandings of this unusual Canadian phenomenon.” — Gerry Turcotte, President, St. Mary’s University College, Calgary, Alberta

James De Mille: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
A Kosekin Glossary

A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder

Appendix A: Antarctic Exploration
Antarctica Exploration Timeline

  1. From James Cook and Tobias Furneaux, A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World (1777)
    1. Book 1, Chapters 2-3, January 1773
    2. Book 2, Chapter 6, January 1774
  2. From Charles Wilkes, Synopsis of the Cruise of the .S. Exploring Expedition During the Years 1838-1842
  3. From Captain Sir James Clark Ross, A Voyage of Discovery in the Southern and Antarctic Regions (During the Years 1839-43) (1847)
    1. Volume 1, Chapter VII, 10 January 1841
    2. Volume 1, Chapter VII, 27 January 1841
    3. Volume 1, Chapter VIII, 28 January 1841

Appendix B: Nineteenth-Century Geology and Paleontology

  1. From Richard Owen, Geology and the Inhabitants of the Ancient World (1854)
    1. Pterodactyle
    2. Iguanodon
    3. Hylaeosaurus
    4. Megalosaurus
    5. Teleosaurus
    6. Enaliosauria (Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus)
    7. Labyrinthodon
  2. From Louis Figuier, The World Before the Deluge (1866)
    1. “whale of the saurians”
    2. Ideal Landscapes
  3. Coal Period Vegetation: From Louis Figuier, The World Before the Deluge (1866)
  4. From Elijah H. Burritt, Atlas Designed to Illustrate the Geography of the Heavens (1845)

Appendix C: Savages and Cannibals

  1. From James Cook, A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World (1777)
    1. Volume 1, Book 2, Chapter 5, November 1773, Queen Charlotte’s Sound, New Zealand
    2. Volume 2, Book 3, Chapter 5, August 1774, Vanuatu Archipelago
  2. From Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle (1846)

Appendix D: Historical Mythology: Caves and Troglodytes

  1. From Plato, The Republic of Plato (c. 380 BCE): The Allegory of the Cave
  2. From Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1843)
  3. From Thomas Hodgkin, “On the Ancient Inhabitants of the Canary Islands” (1848)

Appendix E: Scientific Romance and Lost Worlds

  1. From John Cleves Symmes Jr., Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery (1820)
  2. From Edgar Allan Poe, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym” (1838)
    1. Preface
    2. A History of Antarctic Exploration
  3. From Edward Bulwer Lytton, The Coming Race: or The New Utopia (1871)
    1. Orientalism
    2. Gender
  4. From Jules Verne, A Journey into the Interior of the Earth (1877)
  5. From Samuel Butler, Erewhon or Over the Range (1880)
  6. From Jonathan Swift, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver (1726)

Appendix F: Reviews

  1. New York Times, 21 May 1888
  2. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 3 June 1888
  3. The Week, July 1888
  4. The Athenaeum, 15 December 1888

Works Cited and Recommended Reading

Daniel Burgoyne is University-College Professor in the Department of English at Vancouver Island University.