The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz

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The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz
Haralan fighting an invisible Wilhelm Storitz
Author Jules Verne
Original title Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz
Translator Peter Schulman[1]
Illustrator George Roux
Country France
Language French
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Louis-Jules Hetzel
Publication date
1910
Published in English
2011

The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz (fr.: Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz) is a fantasy novel by Jules Verne, published by Louis-Jules Hetzel in 1910. The manuscript was written around 1897. It was the last one Verne sent to Hetzel.[2]

Plot[edit]

Railway engineer Henri Vidal was invited by his younger brother Marc to pay him a visit in the (fictional) city of Ragz, Hungary. Marc was engaged to Myra Roderich, the daughter of highly praised Dr. Roderich. Before leaving Paris, he learned that a man named Wilhelm Storitz had proposed to Myra, but he was refused.

Henri describes his journey, made on land and on the Danube River on the barge Dorothée, also noting monuments and cities he sees on the way. At his arrival in Ragz he received a warm welcome from Myra's family.

One day, Dr. Roderich told Henri and Haralan (Myra's brother) that Wilhelm Storitz had come to request to propose again to Myra. When he is again refused, he threatened the family.

Before the marriage, a contract must be signed by the town governor as an old tradition from Ragz. A party was organized for the event, which was disrupted by a mysterious voice that sang the German Hate Song. To make matters worse, the contract was found torn to pieces and the bride's wreath lifted itself and hovered mysteriously in the air, ensuing panic among the people at the party.

After reporting the events to the chief of the Ragz police, Heinrich Stepark, he suspected that the culprit must be Wilhelm Storitz, as he was the only person who profoundly disrespected the Roderichs. Wilhelm's house was searched but, beside Myra's bride wreath and a mysterious yellow fluid in a blue vial, no significant evidence was found.

A few days later, after getting the permission from the governor, Myra Roderich and Marc Vidal were ready to be wed the next day at the Ragz cathedral. On June 1, seconds before being wed, the same voice mentioned above cursed the couple. Myra lost consciousness and was given special care.

By now the entire population of the town suspected Wilhelm Storitz to be the culprit. As a consequence, the mob burned his house down, despite the efforts made by police agents.

Later, while on a walk, Henri and Stepark overheard a conversation between Wilhelm and his servant Hermann, both in a state of invisibility, as they had been throughout the novel's plot. Stepark attempted to capture Wilhelm but failed. When they returned, they found Myra missing.

The next day, using the information gathered from the conversation, Haralan fought with an invisible Wilhelm and defeated him. As he bled, Wilhelm became visible. Hermann wasn't there but he was found dead later in the same garden where he died of a heart failure and regained his visibility.

Back home they miraculously found Myra, who hadn't left her bed at all - she was just invisible. As Wilhelm had died, and the antidote had been destroyed, Myra was to remain invisible forever.

Characters[edit]

Vidal[edit]

  • Henri Vidal, 33, railway engineer
  • Marc Vidal, 28, painter

Roderich[edit]

  • Myra Roderich, 20, fiancée (later wife) of Marc Vidal
  • Haralan Roderich, 28, Myra's brother, captain of l'Infanterie des Confins Militaires (Infantry of the Military Frontier)
  • Dr. Roderich, 50, Myra's father
  • Ms. Roderich, 45, Myra's mother

Storitz[edit]

  • Wilhelm Storitz, 35, son of Otto Storitz, main antagonist
  • Otto Storitz, deceased, great alchemist

Other[edit]

  • Heinrich Stepark, chief of police in Ragz
  • Hermann, Wilhelm Storitz's servant

New edition[edit]

In 2011, Bison Books brought out a new edition, the first to be based on Verne's manuscript. Earlier editions feature a version of the novel heavily rewritten by Jules Verne's son Michael, who improbably pushed the date of the story back to the 18th century, despite many references to 19th century discoveries, such as Roentgen rays.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] University of Nebraska Press
  2. ^ fr:Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz - French Wikipedia
  3. ^ The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz: The First English Translation of Verne's Original Manuscript, translated by Peter Schulmann, Bison Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0803234840