FRENCH author Jules Verne is usually more associated with journeys to the centre of the Earth and 80-day voyages around the world than with Scotland.

But now a Scottish publisher is printing a "lost" Scottish novel, inspired by Verne's Scots heritage and travels, which was substantially cut by the main English translator.

Whether motivated by anglocentrism, ignorance of Scotland, or a desire to simplify books intended for children, the early English editions of The Underground City missed huge admiring chunks of Scottish life - which are about to be re-instated.

Verne was Scottish on his mother's side and developed a profound interest in Scotland's history and mythology while visiting in 1859.

He transcribed many experiences in a book, also called Les Indes Noires (literally, The Black Indies), long out of print in the UK. But his detailed descriptions of Edinburgh, Scottish battles for independence and customs, such as piping, were cut from the first major English translation by W H Kingston in 1877.

Now the Edinburgh publisher Luath Press has returned to the original French manuscript edited by Pierre-Jules Hetzel, complete with its colourful detail on Scottish life.

The Underground City, translated by Sarah Crozier and to be published in March, is a fantasy set in a huge city created underneath the ground of Aberfoyle in a newly revived coalmine.

Crozier was puzzled that the story was cut, and had disappeared from British bookshelves. "In France, it is highly regarded, and given the fact that it talks about Scotland and Britain's coal heritage, it is surprising it was lost, " she said.

"Verne is delighting in these details, the science, mythology and geography of the place.

Most of Verne's books went through some kind of treatment: some were seen as antiEnglish, and these parts were taken out, while sometimes one third disappeared.

"If you aren't Scottish, some of these details wouldn't mean much, but it is satisfying to picture the journey he makes.

If you see him as an adult author, themes such as the over-exploitation of coal are fascinating."

The original story was toned down by Verne's French publishers. His desire to make this city encompass Britain was moderated by his editor, Hetzel.

He also wanted the book to be called after the Stirlingshire town; Hetzel insisted on the short title Les Indes Noires, French slang for mining towns, to make it universal.

"It is useful for everything, for the advertisement it has more impact and is more easily remembered, " he wrote to Verne in a letter dated February 1877.

Hetzel altered elements of the plot, but included detailed descriptions of Scotland. However, translators cut around 15 pages of Scottish "colour" from the 200 pages.

Cuts included descriptions of Edinburgh and historical references to clans bravely fighting the English, John Knox, Mary Stuart and Bonnie Prince Charlie, drawn from the works of Sir Walter Scott. Details about the myth of Scottish firemaidens, drawing ships to wreck on the rocks, were excised, as well as details of "New Aberfoyle", its bagpipes and dancing.

Verne, who travelled to Britain 14 times and had his own boat built to reach Edinburgh, hardly recognised the changes to his French version, which Hetzel justified saying that otherwise "it would have been a flop".

Dr Bill Butcher, an academic who translated Verne's travelogue Backwards To Britain, said many translations were unfaithful. "It is very good news [that the book is to be reprinted in full], as there has been a problem with translations, although it is difficult to ascribe a motive, " he said.

Dr Geoff Woollen, a 19th-century French specialist at Glasgow University, said Verne was a great supporter of Scotland.

"He was certainly quite a nationalist as far as the Scots and Irish were concerned, and was against all forms of anticolonial exploitation, " he said.

"I can understand what they might have left out, as he was a bit of a socialist."

WHAT THEY CUT FROM VERNE'S ORIGINAL A protagonist, James Starr, is walking in Edinburgh:

"Although he was a great fan of Walter Scott, as is every true son of Caledonia, the engineer failed to glance as usual at the hostel where Waverly stayed and in which the tailor had brought him his famous tartan war costume, which the widow Flockart had so naively admired. Neither did he greet the little square where the Highlanders had discharged their guns, risking killing Flora MacIvor, after the Pretender's victory . . . Neither did he, in Netherbow Lane, glance at the house of the great reformer John Knox, the only man who could not be seduced by Mary Stuart's smiles."

Life in the Coal City, New Aberfoyle:

"This population, having the same interests, the same tastes, and more or less the same amounts of affluence, constituted, in truth, a large family . . . every Sunday, walks in the mine, excursions on the lakes and ponds were just as agreeable distractions.

"Often, too, you could hear the sounds of the bagpipes resounding on the banks of Loch Malcolm. The Scots gathered at the call of their national instrument. They would dance, and on that day, Jack Ryan, dressed in Highland costume, was king of the festivities."

Taking a tour of Loch Lomond:

"What is that little port?"

asked Nell, who had turned towards the eastern bank of the loch.

"It is Balmaha, which forms the entrance to the Highlands, " replied James Starr. "The ruins that you see, Nell, are of an old nunnery, and these sparse tombs hold various members of the MacGregor clan, whose name is still famous throughout the land."

"Famous for the blood that that clan has spilled and had spilled!"observed Harry.