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Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864)

by Jules Verne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Extraordinary Voyages (3)

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14,131220381 (3.72)507
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

A Journey to the Center of the Earth, also translated as A Journey to the Interior of the Earth, follows a man, his nephew and their guide down an Icelandic volcano into the center of the earth. There they encounter an ancient landscape filled with prehistoric animals and natural dangers. There is some discussion as to whether Verne really believed that such things might be found in the center, or whether he shared the alternate view, expressed by another character in the novel, that it was not so.

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1860s (3)

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English (198)  Spanish (8)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (221)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
A Journey to the Center of the Earth was originally written in French, and therefore I, being unfortunately monolingual, read an English translation. I'd like to start by mentioning that I'm unsure of the quality of this translation, especially because I saw another edition that seemed entirely different while I was looking for a copy online. I chose the edition that seemed to be better known, but I do regret not doing more research because I've since seen a source saying that the one entitled A Journey into the Interior of the Earth is the better translation. That being the case, this should be considered a review of the particular translation I read and nothing more.

It must be said, then, that the quality of the writing did not impress me. It had very much the feel of an amateur storyteller relating his adventures to his friends, with plenty of generic statements and lackluster details and emotion carried by exclamation marks. Some details also seemed inconsistent. For example, at one point in the story it's mentioned that "A traveling rug, in which each rolled himself, was all our bedding", but later on they make a sail for a raft out of "a linen sheet from our bed". Likewise, the main character and his uncle initially employ servants in addition to Hans, who are meant to carry their supplies for them, but these characters just kind of disappear after a certain point with no explanation I saw.

Speaking of those supplies, they must have been carrying quite a lot when they descended, given how much they end up using, but the reader is meant to believe these three men carried it all on their backs and never had a complaint about it. Likewise, the dangers seem inconsistent. At one point, their greatest worry is dying of thirst. This makes sense, but what doesn't is that during another point, when the characters lack both food and water, they worry about death by starvation instead. And whenever a character is suffering from something like extreme thirst, they seem to get better and worse as best suits dramatic chapter endings and other turns of the plot rather than experiencing realistic symptoms.

This same inconsistency or seeming forgetfulness translates also to the characters. For example, the uncle is said in the beginning to have a "natural infirmity which prevented him from pronouncing difficult words in public. It was not exactly stuttering, but a strange sort of constitutional hesitation.". An example is given immediately after, but for chapters and chapters after this, he experiences no such difficulty during any of the dialogue he speaks, with one single exception.

To be fair, there aren't as many examples of inconsistency with characterization as in other areas, but I believe that's mainly because the characters are all underdeveloped to begin with. The nephew acts as the narrator, though arguably not the main character because his role consists almost entirely in needing to be helped or rescued and trying to talk his uncle against going on. Hans plays the role of the dutiful servant, almost entirely silent and illogically devoted to a cause that he's been told nothing about which puts his life in jeopardy. He's said to be doing it all in exchange for his weekly wages, but if I was him I surely would have considered robbing my employer and leaving him to die down there, if not saving myself because I can go get paid for safer labor. If he has some moral compass preventing him from doing either of those things, it is not established, and the idea that this might simply be the author's idea of what an "ideal" servant is supposed to be like makes me quite sad.

The uncle is definitely the character who shines the most, and to touch on a few good aspects of the book, he does have scenes that I found a bit touching. One of these is almost spoiled by a quote about how he doesn't generally show "womanly weakness", but I as a modern reader quite appreciated that a man in this sexist society is able to express genuine love and concern for his nephew in certain ways. The fact that these moments are contrasted by others in which he comes off rather harsh, as well as the general setup consisting of his nephew going along with everything due to being afraid of angering him, make them stand out all the more.

Other bright spots include descriptions of the mountains, the caves, and some of the discoveries. The landscape of this book takes the spotlight rather than the characters, and I did find myself pausing a few times to try to form a mental picture.

Overall, I also enjoyed reading a science fiction novel where the science consists mainly of geology, with dips into anthropology. Where modern sci-fi tends to focus on space travel and artificial intelligence and technological inventions, it was fascinating to think back to a period in time when people were focused on the mysteries of our own planet.

It's also worth mentioning that I appreciate the entrance to the underground cave system being located in an inactive volcano in Iceland, which made it believable enough to me that only one person before this group had ever bothered exploring it to the fullest. A sparsely populated place with a cold climate suited my taste far better than the South American jungle of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, and it also escaped a lot of opportunities for racism by not having any native tribes around.

Not that it escaped racism entirely, or sexism either, but this is the sort of book that focuses on the adventures of white men to the exclusion of others rather than the sort of book that shows off white men in contrast to others around them. Perhaps not better, but it certainly elicited fewer grimaces than certain others I could name.

In the end, I enjoyed this book mainly for the insight it gave me into the early days of science fiction as a genre. It was also an easy read that didn't drag on longer than was necessary. I don't know if I would recommend it to anyone looking to read simply for pleasure, but I think it's worth appreciating for its place in literary history. And maybe the original text (and/or the other translation) is better. ( )
  dste | Sep 4, 2023 |
  archivomorero | Aug 20, 2023 |
I decided to pick up Journey to the Centre of the Earth because I thoroughly enjoyed the Hollywood remake. I have been on a bit of a journey myself as I try to read the original works for famous movies that have passed on the screen at my local theatre.

I did not find this book to be the amazing novel everyone has led me to believe, but it was incredibly written. The novel itself was amazing and the wording was fantastic, but I found it to be quite boring action wise. I had high expectations, which probably ruined this book for me.

Overall, the book is truly amazing, but I found it boring and hard to hold onto. A spectacular novel, but not perfect for me.

I feel that if I would have read this novel in an English class where it was examined rather than a "for fun" read, I would have enjoyed it more and understood it more. ( )
  Briars_Reviews | Aug 4, 2023 |
Once again Verne makes use of fainting as a means to gloss over the details of difficult transitions in the action. Oh well, it's still captivating and fun to read. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
3.5 ( )
  TheScribblingMan | Jul 29, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (175 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Verne, JulesAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arias, ValentinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Armiño, MauroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bair, LowellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baldick, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Batchelor, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bellonci, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boone, PatActorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradley, Willis T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clarke, Arthur C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Curry, TimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dietz, NormanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fortney, Isabel C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heise, Ursula K.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Diana WynneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kähkönen, PenttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malleson, Frederick AmadeusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKowen, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mina, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mottram, C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Newbern, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nimoy, LeonardAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pober, ArthurAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riou, ÉdouardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, Kim StanleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, ShadoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, Frederick PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Edward ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures.
Large though it is, that asylum is not big enough to contain all Professor Lidenbrock's madness.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. Please do not combine with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

A Journey to the Center of the Earth, also translated as A Journey to the Interior of the Earth, follows a man, his nephew and their guide down an Icelandic volcano into the center of the earth. There they encounter an ancient landscape filled with prehistoric animals and natural dangers. There is some discussion as to whether Verne really believed that such things might be found in the center, or whether he shared the alternate view, expressed by another character in the novel, that it was not so.


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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141321040, 0141441976, 0451532155

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175145, 1907832785

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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Fantastic Books

An edition of this book was published by Fantastic Books.

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