The Jangada

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Title page of the French original edition
Manoel, Benito, Minha and Lina save Fragoso

The Jangada (also 800 miles on the Amazon or eight hundred miles on the Amazon River ) is a novel by the French author Jules Verne . The novel was first published in 1881 by the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel in two volumes under the French title La Jangada . Volume I appeared on July 22, 1881 and Volume II on November 10, 1881. The first German-language edition appeared in 1882 under the title Die Jangada . The English title of the novel is Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon . The book was made into a film in the 1990s.


Volume 1: The forest captain Torres , a slave hunter, is in possession of a mysterious, encrypted letter. In his sleep, a Guariba steals the metal case in which the letter is. Torres is chasing the monkey. The monkey is shot by Manoel Valdez, who is out in the woods with his friend Benito Garral. Torres regains possession of the case and learns that Benito's father Joam Garral wants to travel to Brazil .

Joam Garral is the owner of a nearby hacienda and plantation that is across the Brazilian border in Peru on the left bank of the Amazon . The hacienda is a few kilometers downstream from the village of Iquitos . Joam Garral was found half-starved in the jungle 23 years ago as a young man and was nursed back to health by the Portuguese Magalhaes , the founder of the hacienda, and accepted into the family. Joam Garral married Magalhae's daughter Yaquita and successfully ran the hacienda, but never traveled to Brazil . Her daughter Minha wants to marry the regimental doctor Manoel Valdez, a friend of her brother Benito. According to Yaquita's idea, the wedding is to be celebrated by the in-laws who live in Belém . For the trip, Joam Garral has a huge raft, the Jangada , built to accommodate an entire village including the church. Before leaving, Manoel, Benito, Minha and their maid Lina go on a trip. In doing so, they save the life of the half-starved hairdresser Fragoso , who wanted to hang himself with a vine. This falls in love with Lina.

In addition to the servants and animals of the family and the priest who is supposed to perform the wedding, Fragoso also goes on board the Jangada, who takes care of the hair of the local population at various stops. In addition, Fragoso gets to know the slave hunter Torres as his customer, who joins the tour company. When caimans attack the raft, Torres saves Joam Garral's life and Fragoso saves Minha. Fragoso announces his engagement to Lina shortly after the caimans attack. Torres tries to blackmail Joam Garral. Joam Garral's real name is Joam Dacosta and had to flee Brazil a long time ago because he was sentenced to death for stealing diamonds. Torres has proof of Joam Garral's innocence. It is the encrypted written confession of the real robber who entrusted himself to Torres on the deathbed. Torres asks Joam Garral to marry his daughter Minha. When Joam Garral does not respond to the extortion, Torres leaves the tour company. Due to the events, Joam Garral wants to bring Minha to Manoel's wedding.

When the Jangada reached the next town, Manaus , Joam Garral was arrested on the Jangada. Torres denounced him. Garral had previously been in correspondence with the court president of Manaus, Judge Ribeiro, whom he wanted to face. Ribeiro knew of Garral's efforts to prove his innocence, but died unexpectedly of a stroke the night before. His deputy Vicente Jarriquez issued the arrest warrant.

Volume two: Jarriquez interrogates Garral in Manaus, but is initially convinced of his guilt. He sends a report to the Justice Minister in Rio de Janeiro and expects confirmation of the 23-year-old death sentence from there.

Benito, Fragoso and Manoel make Torres on a cliff outside the city near the mouth of the Rio Negro . In a duel, Benito kills Torres, who falls dying into the river. Joam Garral is horrified to learn of Torres' death. With the encrypted letter in the case, he had the only proof of Garral's innocence in his possession. The body of Torres is searched for in the Amazon for days. With a wet suit, Benito dives in the river to find the body of Torres. Finally he finds the dead underwater. The corpse is blown up by the tremors of a ship's gun salute. Benito fights with an electric eel , but can be rescued by his friends, who also fish the body of Torres out of the water. In the dead man's clothes they find the metal case with the encrypted letter.

You take the letter to judge Jarriquez, who tries to decipher the document. It recognizes the principle of encryption, but cannot find out the number used for encryption. Fragoso has a plan. He wants to find remaining members of the militia to which Torres belonged. He hopes that they will provide information about the author of the document and the key. Benito and Manoel try to free Joam Garral from prison. He refuses to go with them. Meanwhile, the chief of police arrives from Rio de Janeiro with the confirmation of the death sentence. Fragoso has since learned from the leader of the forest captains that Torres had a comrade named Ortega with whom he was better acquainted. With the last of his strength, Fragoso travels back to Manaus and is able to call Jarriquez the name Ortegas. Based on the name, he can determine the author and thus also the key of the document and finally decrypt the entire document. Ortega was the escort of the diamond transport that was attacked 23 years ago. He betrayed the transport to Diamantenschieber. His death was simulated in the attack. Ortega, however, was cheated of his share by the diamond pushers and joined the forest captains' militia. There he met Torres. Ortega originally wanted to confess to Joam Garral the true background of his crime and wrote the encrypted letter. However, he died of a brawl before he could pass the letter on to Garral. Before his death, he revealed the key to Torres, who wanted to use the letter for his own personal gain.

With the revelation of this story, Joam Garral alias Joam Dacosta is rehabilitated and the trip with the Jangada can continue as originally planned for the wedding in Belém.


The book is exciting and told without digressions, especially the second volume. In the first volume the author describes the journey across the river and visits to the towns and villages on its banks. The story only gets exciting when Torres joins the tour company and Joam Garral is arrested. Only Fragoso, who works as a hairdresser in the villages of the natives on the trip and gives the natives fashionable hairstyles, provides humor.


The action element of the cipher also appears in other works by Jules Verne, for example Journey to the Center of the Earth or Mathias Sandorf . Curiously, the document that is supposed to prove Joam Garral's innocence is written in French, although the perpetrator is not French and probably does not speak this language.


  • The novel was filmed in the United States in 1993 under the title Eight Hundred Leagues Down the Amazon by the director Luis Llosa . The script was written by Jackson Barr and Laura Schiff. Actors were Daphne Zuniga as Minha, Tom Verica as Manoel (in the book Manuel Valdez), Barry Bostwick as Joam Garral (Dacosta), Adam Baldwin as Roja (in the book Torres), EE Bell as Fragoso and other actors.


  • Heinrich Pleticha (ed.): Jules Verne manual . Deutscher Bücherbund / Bertelsmann, Stuttgart and Munich 1992.
  • Volker Dehs and Ralf Junkerjürgen: Jules Verne . Voices and interpretations of his work. Fantastic Library Wetzlar, Wetzlar 2005.
  • Volker Dehs: Jules Verne . Jules Verne. A critical biography. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2005. ISBN 3-538-07208-6

Web links

Commons : Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wikisource: La Jangada  - Sources and full texts