Lost in Translation #2 - The Mystery of the Black Jungle by Emilio Salgari

Hello everyone !

Welcome to the second edition of the Lost in Translation meme !

This meme, hosted here, is organised to appeal to the curious international reader in you to discover foreign authors and even encourage you to read some books in their original language !

For a presentation of the meme, go here

The meme has a few rules:
- Check if the book is translated in English and available (country and online/bookstores) and specify it in your post
- It would be nice to follow the "Language Corner" where you say to which level the book is suitable for the people who want to read the book in its original language
- And finally: Enjoy and Spread the love !

Since it is the second half of the month *pheww no one has noticed I'm actually several days late*, I will be presenting a cool Italian author. He happens to write incredible adventure stories and to be the most famous Italian writer in this genre. He is the Italian version of Jules Verne (you know, the guy behind Twenty Thousand Leagues under The Sea). He lived between 1862 and 1911 and most of his books were translated in many languages and subsequently adapted on the big screen.

The Mystery of the Black Jungle
by Emilio Salgari

Now, I know what you're thinking. The dude lived in a century so far away, what on Earth could he possibly write that you can't read somewhere else, like written by someone who knows what a microwave is. And whatever the incredible countries on which he wrote, you can google map these countries a-ny-time. Plus in the 18th century, people clearly had issues with hygiene, and that's just eww.
And you would be entirely right. 

Except that. Writing about wild foreign and mysterious countries from the point of view of an 18th century Indian hunter in the Black Jungle, hardly compares to anything you have read before. What is interesting is how this book is written and what people thought at this period about those foreign countries. This book is beautifully written and you dream of being part of this adventure, and you discover these exotic (for us) cultures that characterised India in the 1800. 

The story is set in India in 1851, in the surroundings of the Black Jungle. Tremal-Naik is a renowned and feared hunter, being one of the few daring to live in the terrifying Black Jungle where tigers, rhinoceros and pythons hide. One of his men is found dead, and with the help of his faithful servant Kammamuri, he sets on a quest in the Black Jungle to find who is responsible for the murder and save the beautiful woman, Ada, he keeps seeing in his dreams. He is fearless and has tamed a tiger that helps him through his quest. Tremal-Naik will have to fight a strange cult that has enslaved his Ada.

The book is divided in two parts, and the second part sees the appearance of new characters and new situations which put Tremal-Naik always further away from his beloved and makes him despair over their future.

This book is the first one of the Pirates of Malaysia Series (11 books).

"Three hours crept by like three centuries for the hunter who desired nothing more than to see his beloved Ada" 

The style of writing is very similar to other adventure books of the same period like The Three Musketeers where the dialogues and general reactions are quite over the top, some people are always overcome by emotion, talk or whisper what they think out loud and finally where others interject each other with "scoundrel" and "wrench" every 5 pages. I find it highly amusing and entertaining.

I would qualify this book as a page turner. The plot is full of exciting events which are very well described and which take place in a very fast-paced rhythm that makes you want to know immediately what will happen next.

About that, it is not a good idea to read this book in public, you get so excited from the story that you want to brandish your sword with a barbarian scream and go defend the poor and hopeless from the ruthless evil hands of mean people. 
Yeah very bad idea at 8am in the tube, I can guarantee...

One of the best things of this book is the description of Indian and Hindu traditions. It feels as much an adventure story as a book on India in the 1800 during the British colonisation. It's very interesting.

As a lot of books written in this period, the characters have very definite personalities and roles in the story. I don't want to spoil the plot too much, but each character has a very interesting role to play, and since the story is told from a third person point of view, you get glimpses of everybody and it really is a plus.


This is a picture I took last year in Verona (Yup, Romeo and Juliet Verona, I'll show you their houses' pictures if you're interested) of Emilio Salgari's commemorative plaque, it says (my translation):

In this house was born
On the 21st of August 1862
Novelist and poet of adventure
He inspired the younger generations to generosity
And knowledge of all lands and all people

Verona perpetuates the memory of his work - 25th of April 1959

I found the plaque very moving and after reading his book, I totally understand the last two sentences and I thought I'd share it with you.

Language corner:
Even though the book is very well written, I would personally advise reading it in original language only to those with an advanced level in Italian.

Getting the book:
- UK: Amazon, Waterstones
- US: Amazon, Barnes and Nobles

To take part in the meme :
- Write your name
- The name of your blog
- In parenthesis if it is the first or second time you participate
- In parenthesis which language it is
- Link to the LiT post, not your blog !

Exemple: Caroline @ Portrait of a Woman (1, French)

If what you post doesn't look like that, I will retaliate. Live in fear.


  1. Wow, this is a fantastic meme Caroline! I blushingly admit that I have never heard of Emilio Salgari, but this book sounds interesting! And if you say he is the Italian Jules Verne, I will have to check him out some day! ;-)

    Thank this was fun, looking forward to the next Lost in Translation meme! :-)

  2. This book sounds great! Thanks for introducing me to something new!

  3. Amazing post Caroline!
    You have really got me interested. I love books with all those nuances of the time. "Scoundrel" is such an awesome word.

    (I didn't realise this meme was on a particular day...I haven't read my translation book. When's the next one scheduled for? Let me know).

  4. I just wish I could "scoundrel" people all day long...

    Oh no it's not on a particular day, you can join any time, but since I am writing one article every 2 weeks, I put dates on for the "Mister Linky" so that people don't sign up on an older post...
    I can bring the book on Thursday if you're interested !

  5. This is SUCH an interesting meme! And that plaque is really moving and I'd love to visit Verona. Great post, Caroline!

  6. Brilliant idea! Maybe I'll play along next week. Have a great weekend!

  7. Wow I hadn't heard of Emilio Salagari either
    but the story sounds interestingmay have to check this one out for my orbis terrarum challenge so thanks for this meme I think it's a good way to get interest in authors all over the world