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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: The Spectre of Venice Indiana Jones
The Spectre of Venice
Written by Jerome Jacobs
Illustrations by d’Erik Juszezak
April 1998

Indy faces a terrorist plot in Venice.


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This book opens in Venice, Italy in January 1915.


Didja Know?


To my knowledge, this junior novel was published only in France as Indiana Jones Jr et le Spectre de Venise. A series of junior novels was published in this series, some being original stories and some being French translations of the American Young Indiana Jones junior novels. For some reason, the French versions are all titled beginning with "Indiana Jones Jr" instead of the French translation of "Young Indiana Jones", "Jeune Indiana Jones".


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB. The FSB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The journal as published skips over this time in Indy's life. In fact, it goes from August 5, 1912 to March 9, 1916...a period of about 3.5 years! Are we to believe that Indy made no journal entries that entire time? Perhaps the entries were excised by the Russians for some reason when it was in their possession?


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Giovanni Casanova

Pietro Casanova

Norma Bellini

Giuletta Casanova

Indiana Jones

Henry Jones, Sr.

Anna Jones (mentioned only, deceased)


Mario Caprini (man in masque)

Pier Paolo


Federico (dies in this novel)

Corporal Barami


Herman Mueller (mentioned only)

Helen Seymour (mentioned only)


Didja Notice?




The story opens at the Rialto Bridge in Venice. This is a real world bridge crossing the Grand Canal in the city. The bridge has existed in several versions since the 12th Century. The current bridge has been in use since 1591.


Giovanni Casanova's miniature submarine is described as being like something out of a novel by H.G. Wells. Wells (1866-1946) was an English author of science-fiction (and many other genres). As stated in the book, he was the author of the novels The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.


The character of Giovanni Casanova is said in Chapter 1 to be a descendant of Giovanni Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt. Casanova (1725-1798), as he is popularly known, is best known as a womanizer, though he was also an author and adventurer. Our descendant Giovanni may also have been named for Giovanni Battista Casanova, an 18th Century Italian painter.


Chapter 1: A Golden Ancestor


On page 9, the Casanova mansion is said to house many paintings by the Italian masters, e.g. a painting by Canaletto representing Venice and the Grand Canal. Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) was an 18th Century Italian painter known for many paintings of Venice and its Grand Canal.


Norma is planning a European concert tour of her opera singing, including at the famous La Fenice (The Phoenix) theater in Venice.


Chapter 2: The Foreigner


On page 21, Norma tells Giovanni and Giuletta that she hasn't seen Indy in several months. Indy's last recorded encounter with her was in The Bermuda Triangle, in September 1913, about a year-and-a-half before this story. Possibly, they have met up since then in an untold account.


Norma tells her friends that Indy "...had Al Capone arrested in New York...he’s saved princesses, beat tigers, overthrown kings, accomplished the first crossing of the Strait of Florida by seaplane..." These feats occurred in The Metropolitan Violin, Princess of Peril, The Eye of the Tiger, The Secret City, and The Bermuda Triangle, respectively.


On page 24, Indy reflects that he will be meeting Norma at St. Mark's Square. This is the main public square of Venice.


On page 25, Indy's father is described as having become an impatient and mocking Father Fouettard since the death of his wife three years ago. Father Fouettard is a folkloric character who is said to accompany St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas' Day (December 6) to deliver coal or beatings to naughty children while St. Nicholas rewards well-behaved ones.


Page 25 states that Indy's father began using the "Junior" nickname for him after Indy's mother died. Yet, Professor Jones is seen to use it before that in episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.


On page 26, Professor Jones realizes his son will be an adult soon and ponders on what he will become in the future, such as a geographer, historian, archaeologist, writer, inventor, politician, diplomat, or spy? Some pretty good guesses, as Indy will be primarily an archaeologist, but also will dabble as a geographer, historian, writer, and spy in the course of his life.


Chapter 3: An Angel Passes


On page 29, Norma thinks of Indy as her best friend.


On page 30, Norma sings "Bello a me ritooooma!" This is Italian for "It's nice to be back!"


Also on page 30, the bells of St. Mark's Basilica toll.


On page 31, Norma sings "Che più t'arrrrrreeesssttiiiiiiiii..." This is Italian for "What more would you be..."


On page 33, Norma tells Indy she'll be auditioning for the role of Madame Butterfly in Puccini's opera of the same name at the La Scala in Milan.


Chapter 4: White Cabbage


On page 44, Giovanni and Indy are said to move through the waters of the Serenissima in Giovanni's submarine. "Serenissima" is Italian for "Most Serene Republic of Venice", which was a sovereign state of its own from 697-1797.


Indy and his father are staying at the Santa Maria hotel in Venice. I've been unable to confirm whether this was a real hotel in the city at the time.


Chapter 5: The Infernal Trio


On page 52, Giovanni says there is a new Pope called Benedict XV. This is true. Giacomo della Chiesa (1854-1922) became Pope Benedict XV on September 3, 1914 and remained so until his death on January 22, 1922.


On page 55, the man in the black hat refers to Indy and Giovanni as ragazzi. This is Italian for "lads."


Chapter 6: Confidence Reigns


On page 67, Norma remarks, "Like Madame Butterfly, I put my destiny in your hands," and Professor Jones responds silently, "I hope that Indy will not subject you to the same fate as the American officer in Puccini's opera..." In the opera, the Japanese Madame Butterfly turns her destiny over to the God of her American fiancé Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton. Pinkerton marries but later abandons her for an American woman.


Chapter 7: Out of Breath


    On page 71, a young street urchin delivers a note to Norma, for which he had been paid 100 lira. "Lira" was a unit of currency in Italy from 1861-2002, each worth only fractions of a cent in American terms, so the boy only earned about 5 cents from the 100 liras.

    The note tells Norma to meet at the Florian Cafe if she wants to find her friends alive.


On pages 74-76, Norma sings passages from Verdi's Trouvère, Handel's Alrina, Rossini's La Cenerentola, and the Costa Diva from Vincenzo Bellini's Norma. The verses seen here are the same ones she sang in Phantom of the Klondike.


Page 76 refers to Norma as the Calabrian Nightingale. She had told Indy in Phantom of the Klondike that it was a nickname given to her by her opera fans in Italy.


Chapter 8: Sharpshooter


No notes.


Chapter 9: Interrogation


No notes.


Chapter 10: Let the Party Begin!


No notes.


Chapter 11: The Great Escape


On page 112, the addled Professor Jones mistakes the sudden explosion our heroes have heard for the beginning of a July 4th celebration in the United States, while the equally addled Pietro thinks it is the beginning of the Carnival of Venice. July 4th is the Independence Day holiday celebration of the United States' declaration of independence from British rule in 1776. The Carnival of Venice is a festival held in Venice in celebration of the victory of the Venetian Republic over Ulrico di Treven, Patriarch of Aquileia, in 1162.


Chapter 12: A Spectre Goes Up in Smoke


Pages 118-119 have Indy reflecting on his relationships with his mother and Miss Seymour. It is stated that Miss Seymour "left" prematurely just like the boy's mother. That's inaccurate in more ways than one. Indy's mother died a few years ago, while Miss Seymour is still alive. And Miss Seymour has been back in Indy's life after the death of his mother, for a time, as seen in The Pirates' Loot and Phantom of the Klondike.


Chapter 13: A Face Uncovered


On page 129, Norma sings "Chepiù t'aarrrreessstttiiiiii!" This is Italian for "That the more you stop!" This is a line from Verdi's Trouvère.


Also on page 129, Norma guesses there are some bel canto specialists in the audience. Bel canto is Italian for "beautiful singing".


On page 133, Indy refers to the masked terrorist as "Monsieur le fantôme de l'opéra." This is French for "Mister Phantom of the Opera". Phantom of the Opera is a much-performed musical play based on the 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux.


Chapter 14: On the Razor's Edge


On page 138, a guard at the Fenice is referred to as "the cerberus". This is a reference to the hound of Hades, Cerberus, in Greek mythology who guarded the gates of the underworld to prevent the dead from leaving.


Also on page 138, Norma sings, "Non più mestaaaaaa accanto al fuoooooocoooo..." This is a line from La Cenerentola, meaning, "no longer sad by the fire".


Chapter 15: Carnival


On page 152, Carpini admits there is yet another bomb, located at the palace of the doge. A doge is an elected head of state in Venice.




At the end of the novel, Norma suggests that she and Indy meet every January at the Cafe Florian and asks, "Will you be there, Indy?" and he responds, "Only time will tell. But if it's up to can be sure!" This is the last appearance or mention of Norma Bellini in Indy's recorded adventures, so we don't know if they observed the tradition or not.


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