Journey to the Center of the E (Anglais) Poche – 1 octobre 1999
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It was on Sunday, the 24th of May, 1863, that my uncle, Professor Lidenbrock, came rushing suddenly back to his little house in the old part of Hamburg, No. 19, Königstrasse.
Our good Martha could not but think she was very much behindhand with the dinner, for the pot was scarcely beginning to simmer, and I said to myself:
“Now, then, we’ll have a fine outcry if my uncle is hungry, for he is the most impatient of mortals.”
“Mr. Lidenbrock, already!” cried the poor woman, in dismay, half opening the dining-room door.
“Yes, Martha; but of course dinner can’t be ready yet, for it is not two o’clock. It has only just struck the half-hour by St. Michael’s.”
“What brings Mr. Lidenbrock home, then?”
“He’ll probably tell us that himself.”
“Here he comes. I’ll be off, Mr. Axel; you must make him listen to reason.”
And forthwith she effected a safe retreat to her culinary laboratory.
I was left alone, but not feeling equal to the task of making the most irascible of professors listen to reason, was about to escape to my own little room upstairs, when the street-door creaked on its hinges, and the wooden stairs cracked beneath a hurried tread, and the master of the house came in and bolted across the dining-room, straight into his study. But, rapid as his flight was, he managed to fling his nutcracker-headed stick into a corner, and his wide-brimmed rough hat on the table, and to shout out to his nephew:
“Axel, follow me.”
Before I had time to stir he called out again, in the most impatient tone imaginable:
“What! Not here yet?”
In an instant I was on my feet and in the study of my dreadful master.
Otto Lidenbrock was not a bad man. I grant that, willingly. But, unless he mightily changes, he will live and die a terrible origi- nal.
He was professor in the Johannæum, and gave the course of lectures on mineralogy, during which he regularly put himself into a passion once or twice. Not that he troubled himself much about the assiduity of his pupils, or the amount of attention they paid to his lessons, or their corresponding success. These points gave him no concern. He taught subjectively, to use a German philosophical expression, for himself, and not for others. He was a selfish savant— a well of science, and nothing could be drawn up from it without the grinding noise of the pulleys: in a word, he was a miser.
There are professors of this stamp in Germany.
My uncle, unfortunately, did not enjoy great facility of pronunciation, unless he was with intimate friends; at least, not when he spoke in public, and this is a deplorable defect in an orator. In his demonstrations at the Johannæum the professor would often stop short, struggling with some obstinate word that refused to slip over his lips—one of those words which resist, swell out, and finally come forth in the anything but scientific shape of an oath. This put him in a great rage.
Now, in mineralogy, there are many names difficult to pronounce—half Greek, half Latin, barbarous appellations which would blister the lips of a poet. I have no wish to speak ill of the science. Far from it. But when one has to do with rhomboidal crystallisations, retinasphaltic resins, galena favosite, molybdates of lead, tungstates of manganese, and titanites of zircon, the most nimble tongue may be allowed to stumble.
The townsfolk were aware of this pardonable infirmity of my uncle’s, and they took advantage of it, and were on the watch for the dangerous passages; and when he put himself in a fury laughed at him, which was not in good taste, even for Germans. His lectures were always very numerously attended, but how many of those who were most regular auditors came for anything else but to make game of the professor’s grand fits of passion I shouldn’t like to say. Whatever my uncle might be, and I can hardly say too much, he was a true savant.
Though he sometimes broke his specimens by his rough handling, he had both the genius of a geologist and the eye of a mineralogist. With his hammer and steel pointer and magnetic needle, his blow-pipe and his flask of nitric acid, he was a master indeed. By the fracture, the hardness, the fusibility, the ring, the smell, of any mineral whatever, he classed it without hesitation among the six hundred species science numbers to-day.
The name of Lidenbrock was consequently mentioned with hon-our in gymnasiums and national associations. Humphry Davy, Humboldt, and Captains Franklin and Sabine, paid him a visit when they passed through Hamburg. Becqueul, Ebolmann, Brewster, Dumas, Milne-Edwards, Sainte Clarice Deville, took pleasure in consulting him on the most stirring questions of chemistry, a science which was indebted to him for discoveries of considerable importance; and in 1853 a treatise on Transcendent Crystallography, by Professor Otto Lidenbrock, was published at Leipsic, a large folio, with plates, which did not pay its cost, however.
Moreover, my uncle was curator of the Museum of Mineralogy, belonging to M. Struve, the Russian ambassador, a valuable collection, of European celebrity.
Such, then, was the personage who summoned me so impatiently.
Fancy to yourself a tall, spare man, with an iron constitution, and a juvenile fairness of complexion, which took off full ten years of his fifty. His large eyes rolled about incessantly behind his great goggles; his long thin nose resembled a knife-blade; malicious people declared it was magnetised, and attracted steel filings—a pure calumny; it attracted nothing but snuff, but, to speak truth, a super-abundance of that. When I have added that my uncle made mathematical strides of three feet at every step, and marched along with his fists firmly clenched—a sign of an impetuous temperament—you will know enough of him not to be over-anxious for his company.
He lived in his little house in Königstrasse, a dwelling built partly of brick and partly of stone, with a crenated gable-end, which looked on to one of those winding canals which intersect each other in the centre of the oldest part of Hamburg, which happily escaped the great fire in 1842.
The old house leaned forward slightly, and bulged out towards the passers-by. The roof inclined to one side, in the position a German student belonging to the Tugendbund wears his cap. The perpendicular of the house was not quite exact, but, on the whole, the house stood well enough, thanks to an old elm, firmly imbedded in the façade, which pushed its flower buds across the window-panes in spring.
My uncle was pretty rich for a German professor. The house was his own, and all its belongings. These belongings were his godchild Gräuben, a Virland girl, seventeen years old, his servant Martha, and myself. In my double quality of nephew and orphan, I became his assistant in his experiments.
I must confess I have a great appetite for geological science. The blood of a mineralogist flows in my veins, and I never grow weary in the society of my beloved stones.
On the whole, it was possible to live happily in this little house in Königstrasse, notwithstanding the impatience of the owner; for though he had a rough fashion of showing it, he loved me for all that. But, the fact was, he was a man who could not wait, and was in a greater hurry than nature.
When he used to plant mignonette and convolvuluses in his terra-cotta pots in the spring, every morning he went regularly and pulled their leaves, to hasten their growth.
With such an original, there was no alternative but to obey, so I darted into the study immediately.
The study was a complete museum, every specimen of the mineral kingdom was to be found there, all labelled in the most perfect order, in accordance with the three great divisions of minerals—the inflammable, the metallic, and the lithoid.
How well I knew this alphabet of mineralogical science. How many a time, instead of loitering about with boys of my own age, I amused myself by dusting these graphites, and anthracites, and pit coal, and touch-stones; and the bitumens, and the resins, and organic soils, which had to be kept from the least particle of dust; and the metals, from iron up to gold, the relative value of which disappeared before the absolute equality of scientific specimens; and all those stones, enough to build the little house in the Königstrasse over again, and an extra room besides, which I would have fitted up so nicely for myself.
But when I entered the study now, I scarcely thought of those wonders. My mind was entirely occupied with my uncle. He had buried himself in his big arm-chair, covered with Utrecht velvet, and held a book in his hands, gazing at it with the most profound admiration.
“What a book! What a book!” he exclaimed.
This reminded me that Professor Lidenbrock was also given to bibliomania in his leisure moments; but an old book would have had no value in his eyes unless it could not be found anywhere else, or, at all events, could not be read.
“What! don’t you see it, then?” he went on. “It is a priceless treasure! I discovered it this morning while I was rummaging about in Hevelin’s, the Jew’s shop.”
“Magnificent!” I replied with forced enthusiasm.
Really, what was the good of making such a fuss about an old quarto volume, the back and sides of which seemed bound in coarse calf—a yellowish old book, with a faded tassel dangling from it?
However, the professor’s vocabulary of adjectives was not yet exhausted.
“Look!” he said, asking himself questions, and answering them in the same breath; “is it handsome enough? Yes; it is first-rate. And what binding! Does it open easily? Yes, it lies open at any page, no matter where. And does it close well? Yes; for binding and leaves seem in one completely. Not a single breakage in this back after 700 years of existence! Ah! this is binding that Bozerian, Closs, and Purgold might have been proud of!”
All the while he was speaking, my uncle kept opening and shutting the old book. I could not do less than ask him about the contents, though I did not feel the least interest in the subject.
“And what is the title of this wonderful volume?” I asked.
“The title of it?” he replied, with increased animation. “The title is ‘Heims Kringla,’ by Snorre Turleson, the famous Icelandic author of the twelfth century. It is the chronicle of the Norwegian princes who reigned in Iceland.”
“Indeed!” I said, doing my best to appear enthusiastic. “And it is translated into German, of course?”
“Translated!” cried the professor, in a sharp tone. “What should I do with a translation? Who cares for translations? It is the original work, in the Icelandic—that magnificent idiom at once grand and simple—which allows of the most varied grammatical combinations and most numerous modification of words.”
“Like German,” I said, making a lucky hit.
“Yes,” replied my uncle, shrugging his shoulders; “without taking into account that the Icelandic language has the three numbers like the Greek, and declines proper names like the Latin.”
“Does it?” said I, a little roused from my indifference. “And is the type good?”
“Type? Who is talking of type, you poor, ignorant Axel. So, you suppose this was printed! You ignoramus! It is a manuscript, and a Runic manuscript, too.”
“Yes. Are you going to ask me to explain that word, next?”
“Not if I know it,” I replied, in a tone of wounded vanity.
But my uncle never heeded me, and went on with his instructions, telling me about things I did not care to know.
“The Runic characters were formerly used in Iceland, and, according to tradition, were invented by Odin himself. Look at them, and admire them, impious young man!—these types sprang from the imagination of a god.” --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .
Revue de presse
"Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of the most famous novels ever written. Verne has left us an extraordinary book, which has withstood the test of time better than some of the science described within it. It has brought delight to generations of readers, and will for many more. There is nothing so rare as the chance to take an impossible journey, and to believe it so powerfully that we wonder if we will make it out alive. That's magic. And that's Verne's gift." (Michael Crichton Daily Telegraph)
"The reason Verne is still read by millions today is simply that he was one of the best storytellers who ever lived" (Arthur C. Clarke)
"Fantasised a parallel world to ours under the earth's crust. This hypothesis was both popular and subscribed to, even by reputable scientists, in the 19th century. Verne's tale was flagrantly ripped off; (by Edgar Rice Burroughs, among others, with his "Pellucidar" series) but remains the best of its (scientifically) preposterous kind." (John Sutherland Guardian)
"Jules Vernes most spectacular visions of the future have remained classic science fantasies" (Daily Mail) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
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Je me demande qui peut bien lire Jules Verne de nos jours. Cela semble affreusement "vieillot". Celui-ci est certainement un des meilleurs en termes de pure aventure... Mais pourquoi diable en lire un condensé en Anglais??
A quoi peuvent bien servir ces BD an Anglais aujourd'hui en France? J'ai deux enfants au Collège. La France est un des pays riches qui donne un enseignement de l'anglais de la plus mauvaise qualité qui soit: nous sommes (à ce sujet) au 17ème rang européen... derrière l'Albanie!! La France est certainement le seul pays au monde où un enfant peut décocher 18/20 en Anglais sans pouvoir parler un traître mot de la langue de Shakespeare!! Ce qui est un comble... C'est en tenant compte de la piètre qualité de l'enseignement de l'Anglais dans ma douce France que j'achète ces livres pour mes enfants:
1) parce que la lecture d'un texte soutenu par l'image favorise la compréhension;
2) parce que les textes produits dans cette série de "comics" sont des résumés d'oeuvres qui comptent parmi les chefs-d'oeuvre de la littérature ... ce qui nous change des Mangas et "tutti quanti". Une bonne façon d'initier des enfants à des "classiques" depuis H G Wells à Alexandre Dumas en passant par Charlotte Bronte et Sir Walter Scott: cela ouvre des horizons au lieu de les fermer.Lire la suite ›
Now for avid readers you could care less about old movies, I can truthfully say that this is one of Jules Verne's best stories and well told.
What you will find more interesting and fun about this tale is the characters and their interaction. One of my favorite parts is when Harry who did not want to go to the center of the earth with his uncle, Professor Hardwigg; he turned to his affianced, Gretchen, and was planning on her to stop him. Her answer is shockingly disappointing to him.
"While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert, Henry, that as long as man's heart beats, as long as man's flesh quivers, I do not allow that being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair"
Be prepared as the bulk of the book is really a geological journey back through time and forward again painfully spelled out by Harry whom is the first person narrator.
The Kindle version does not have actual picture of the runes in chapter 1. Moreover, a tad off on pronunciations. Other than that, it is more than worth obtaining along with a hard copy for your library.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
I read the 'Harry' version first, but only partway through as it was terrible! I thought Verne was a bad writter or something. But, when I was older, I found another copy (Puffin Classics btw), and I thought I'd give it another go. That was one of the best books I had ever read, it funny and imaginative. The characters even had character!
Well, I looked into it, and compared my new version with the first book I had read and both of them with the original. Mine was pretty close. The names were kept the same, most of the sentences were similar in structure (so that someone like me who can't read french could tell that they were the same book).
The 'Harry version' however, invented entire chapters out of thin air, discarded others and changed significant plot points. I hope this helps some of you decide which one to get, and that there is more than one translation.
If the book starts with:
"ON 24 May 1863, a Sunday, my uncle, Professor Lidenbrock, came rushing back towards his little house at No.19 Konigstrasse, one of the oldest streets..."
You know you have the good version.
Otherwise, I love this book and would recomend it to anyone, whether a science fiction fan or not.
Any true translation (such as in this Puffin Classic) rightly identifies the professor as "Lidenbrock" or "Liedenbrock" NOT as "Hardwigg," and his young partner as "Axel" NOT "Harry." (That is how you can easily distinguish the real vs. a false, anonymous translation that, sadly, is still being sold as if it were the real thing; it isn't even a translation but a total rewrite with different names and numerous plot alterations.) This Baldick translation comes as close (in English) to what Verne actually wrote (in French) to tell his story. The old F.A. Malleson translation also gets it right, but in modern times two translations stand out: one by Robert Baldick (this one) and one by William Butcher. They are both good, the difference mainly being a matter of style. Some prefer Butcher; I happen to prefer Baldick.
Don't let the fact that Baldick's translation here appears in a children's imprint deter you from considering it; this is not a simplified "kiddy" version. It appeared first in 1965 as an adult Penguin book, and twenty years later (unchanged) as a Puffin book, and now as an ebook. Butcher's is more recent and, as he is a noted Verne scholar, his credentials certainly carry weight. But that doesn't make him a better wordsmith. We read Verne primarily for fun and for the thrill of adventure. Baldick's translation enables us to do just that.
I highly recommend Baldick's translation in this Puffin edition to anyone, child or adult. By all means sample it to see for yourself, especially since the low price (as I write this, a mere $.99) is remarkably enticing for a copyrighted, modern translaton rather than an old, public domain one. But whichever edition of this wonderful novel you may be considering for purchase, and no matter who translates it, give it the Lidenbrock & Axel (READ it) vs. Hardwigg & Harry (AVOID it) test to be certain you are reading the actual story Verne intended.
UPDATE: The price has risen since the above was written. Although it is not the great bargain it once was, it is still fairly-priced, and the translation remains superb. Nevertheless, if price is an issue, you may now wish to consider, instead, the aforementoned, sound, older translation by Malleson; it may be obtained as a public domain freebie in the Kindle store by searching under: "Voyage au centre de la terre. English." (The OTHER public domain freebie version under "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" is the FALSE one to be avoided.)
Axel narrates the story, and the strength of the novel lies in his character. The professor and the Icelandic guide are unusual personalities, but Axel is very real and easy to relate to. He really does not want to go in the first place, and he is most liable to greet dangers and risks by bemoaning his fate and declaring his party done for in their foolish efforts. It is he who suffers the most privation when the men's water runs out, and it is he who finds himself lost in the utter blackness of the caverns for three days. When things are going well, though, Axel becomes wildly excited about the mission and temporarily forgets about his fears. This all goes to make him a very sympathetic character. Without him, the story would be a rather dispassionate account of an impossible journey by bland, unbelievable characters. You do have to shift your mind into low gear a few times when the characters begin speaking about the different types of minerals and rocks they are encountering, but overall the plot is rather thrilling, and you cannot help but begin early on trying to ascertain a way in which the intrepid explorers can return to share their discoveries with a skeptical scientific community. Verne knows how to tell a story, and you don't have to know a single thing about science to enjoy this novel immensely.