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Jules Verne , Simon Prebble
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Extrait

I

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.

II

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. An... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .

Revue de presse

“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


From the Trade Paperback edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .

Détails sur le produit

  • CD
  • Editeur : Blackstone Audiobooks; Édition : Unabridged (1 juin 2008)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1433243814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433243813
  • Dimensions du produit: 14,5 x 13,2 x 1,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 1.003.555 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Un outil pédagogique 16 avril 2011
Par Prevost Alain VOIX VINE
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
J'ai 61 ans: je lisais ces "comics" quand j'étais tout gamin au Canada. A l'époque, leur prix était de $0,15 et je ne m'en suis pas privé! La présentation actuelle de ces petits livres illustrés est rigoureusement la-même qu'à l'époque. Cela me rappelle une foule de souvenirs.
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.
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Par bernie
Format:Broché
I grew up on the James Mason movie, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959), so it was quite a shocker to read the book. You could imagine to my dismay the absents of quite a few characters and the center of the story is Germany not Scotland.

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
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  230 commentaires
176 internautes sur 186 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Different Versions? 19 juin 2005
Par Susie Day - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
Yes there are different versions, The best one is the original in French. There are more than one translations into english, one with the Main character's name as Harry, the other as Axel.

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.
36 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Three explorers go to the center of the earth 1 août 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
This is a classic novel by Jules Verne. In the story, Professor Hardwigg and his nephew Harry discover an ancient parchment by an alchemist named Arne Saknussemm. They travel to Iceland and climb an extinct volcano called Sneffels. With them is the Icelandic hunter Hans. They journey into the center of the earth, in which Harry gets lost. They come upon and ocean and cross it. While they are on the sea they witness a battle of ancient sea monsters. Eventually they are thrown out of a volcano on Stromboli, an island in Italy. This was a wonderful book, but sometimes it went into too much detail. Still, a classic five star book. I don't see why anyone would give it 4 1/2 stars. It is simply absurd. I recommened this book to anyone with a good imagination.
31 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Verne's most thrilling novel 5 mars 2002
Par Daniel Jolley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book proves Verne's greatness as a writer of fiction. The science in this science fiction flies largely in the face of modern science, yet the read is no less gripping today than it was in its infancy. The story is pretty simple. Professor Lidenbrock, a neurotically impatient scientist, discovers a cryptic manuscript written by a long-dead explorer; with the help of his nephew, he decodes the cryptogram to read an account of a journey to the center of the earth begun beneath a dormant volcano in Iceland. The nephew, Axel, a talented geologist and mineralogist himself, refuses to believe that the core of the earth is not exceedingly hot; additionally, he cares more about Grauben, the eccentric professor's ward, than risking his life on a scientific adventure. He proves unable to dissuade his uncle and thus joins with him on a journey to Iceland. There, they hire a stoic Icelander to lead them down into the earth. Most of the action takes place underground, with the adventurers suffering several trials, daring risks, and finally discovering a whole new world hidden miles below the earth's crust. The ultimate trial and danger they face consists of returning to the surface.
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.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A particularly good, modern translation 8 avril 2012
Par Librarian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This Penguin/Puffin Classics translation of Verne's wonderful book is absolutely terrific. It is accurate and fun to read. But be aware that any (other) version of this great novel mentioning Professor "Hardwigg" in the opening segment is a literary fraud, a complete re-write, and not a translation of Verne at all. In that version, a would-be Verne-improver changed characters' names and many plot details.The shame is, that old bogus version is still not recognized as such and is still being sold as if it were truly Verne. Sadly, that is the one many of us grew up reading.

Any true translation (such as in this Puffin Classic) identifies the professor as "Lidenbrock" or "Liedenbrock" NOT as "Hardwigg," (and that is how you can easily distinguish the real vs. the sham). There are old translations that get 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.

Another reviewer was very critical of Baldick's use of "behindhand" to mean late or tardy, and on that basis, unfairly gave the entire book a very low rating. "Behindhand" is a perfectly valid word which I verified in 5 different American dictionaries as NOT being a Britishism; it is NOT identified as obscure, archaic or obsolete, and it is totally appropriate in this context. Decide for yourself. Here is the sentence as it ACTUALLY appears (NOT as cited in that critical review): "Martha must have thought she was very behindhand, for the dinner was only just beginning to sizzle on the kitchen stove." That's very simple and understandable to me even though I don't ordinarily use the word "behindhand." (One mustn't be afraid of occasionally encountering and learning a new word while reading.)

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 (READ it) vs. Hardwigg (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, the translation remains superb. Nevertheless, you may wish to shop around; lower-priced editions won't be translated by Baldick, but sample them to see how readable any one of them is to you. Happy hunting.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Amazing book badly translated 2 octobre 2009
Par Michael Ryan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
This is a wonderful book by Jules Verne but this is just a terrible translation. Just read the first page of the preview and you will see. e.g. "Our good Martha could not but think she was very much behind-hand with the dinner" Is that even English? Seek out William Butcher's wonderful translation of this great story by Verne.
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