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Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Anglais)

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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. 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.”

“Runic?”

“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 une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse

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 [...] remains the best of its (scientifically) preposterous kind. --John Sutherland, Guardian

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

Verne's imagination has given us some of the greatest adventure stories of all time. --Daily Mail --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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Format: Format Kindle
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
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Par Alprev MEMBRE DU CLUB DES TESTEURS le 16 avril 2011
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.
Lire la suite ›
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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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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5 448 commentaires
37 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 PENGUIN/PUFFIN EDITION: A particularly good, modern translation 8 avril 2012
Par Librarian - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
[NOTE: Although written for the Penguin/Puffin edition, this review may be attached to other editions as well. If so, much of its information is still pertinent.]

This Penguin/Puffin Classics translation (by Robert Baldick) of Verne's wonderful book is absolutely terrific. It is accurate and fun to read. (Sample it to see for yourself.) Of course, readers must make allowances for the book's old-fashioned content and style, and inevitably some (unable to do so) may feel it is too descriptive or that the plot advances too slowly. Hopefully others will find it quaint but exciting, its fabulous descriptions to be marveled at as they vicariously travel with the main characters on a once-in-a-lifetime journey deep inside the earth. Fanciful? Yes. Fun? Definitely. Memorable? Forever.

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 an adaptation, a total rewrite with different names of characters and numerous plot alterations. The extent of the problem and confusion becomes obvious when one reads the many reviews associated with this and other editions of this title; notice how many refer to Hardwigg and Harry. Sadly, these people, praising the bogus version as if it were Verne's, have not read the real thing. Don't YOU be fooled.

This very sound 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 particularly stand out: this one by Robert Baldick 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 necessarily 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, especially since its relatively low price 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.

ADDENDUM: The price of this Puffin edition has steadily climbed (it had once been as low as $.99), and my above reference to its "relatively low price" may no longer apply. If price is an issue, you may wish to consider the aforementoned, sound, older translation by F. A. Malleson; it can be obtained as a public domain freebie in the Kindle store by searching under: "free books verne voyage au centre de la terre. English." (The OTHER public domain freebie version is under "free books verne journey to the center of the earth" and is the FALSE one. If you wish, download both freebies and compare; the differences are obvious right at the onset.)
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Science-Based Adventure Story 18 juin 2015
Par OldWhiteGuyinDenver - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I read this book because my 9 year old Grandson recommended it. (He is also advising me on this review) If you do not already know, be aware that this is a classic science fiction/adventure story written by Jules Verne in 1864. One reason to read the book is that it provides a fast-paced adventure story, good enough to have been made into several movies, and exciting enough to hold the interest of a 9 year old, despite an advanced vocabulary and a writing style that is a quite flowery compared to what is usually written for young adults. Another reason to read it is to get an idea of the understanding of, and speculations about paleontology and geology that were current around the middle of the 19th century. The scientific discussions and arguments about the interior of the earth between Axel, the young narrator of the story, and his imperious professorial uncle, reflect actual scientific debates going on around that time. I was also interested to discover that the "Ruhmkorff" apparatus that the adventurers used to provide light underground was actually known at that time - an ingenious battery-operated predecessor of the fluorescent light. I had assumed it was simply something Verne devised to allow his plot to proceed- although I am skeptical that it would work for as long as it appeared to work in the book. Although this is not a book you would read to learn about geology, it might be useful in learning about the history of our understanding of geology and paleontology.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I never thought reading could be so fun (Review by seven-year-old) 6 mars 2015
Par Brei - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I really liked this book because it's adventurous and not boring. I also liked it because I like adventure books. You might enjoy it, too. If you like adventure books, this is the book for you.
The book is about a group of three people trying to get to the center of the earth. They ran into some obstacles, like getting dehydrated and getting into a really bad storm. Although the story starts in a safe, cozy house, their adventure takes them to many different places, like seas, caves, and even inside a volcano called Snaefells. But don't worry, it's not scary.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 What is this??? 24 avril 2017
Par Kristi Murrietta - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I would give zero stars if possible. I don't know what this edition is -when I purchased this format of the book from this link I did not get the original text I got a text that seemed like a summary of the book written for children. If you are looking for the original text by Jules Verne do not buy this edition!
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Journey into adventure 6 août 2014
Par Paul Haspel - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Jules Verne is my favorite French writer. There. I have said it.

Mind you, I did not say "Jules Verne is the greatest French writer." Back in graduate-school days, I'd have gotten laughed out of the third-floor English Department seminar room in Taliaferro Hall at the University of Maryland if I'd said anything like that. I do not claim for a moment that Verne possesses the epic sensibility of Hugo, or the psychological insight of Proust, or the wit and subtlety of Colette, or the unflinching realism of Zola. What I do claim is that Jules Verne knows how to write stories that are a hell of a lot of fun to read. I approach the work of Hugo or Proust or Colette or Zola with dutiful reverence. I take up a Jules Verne novel with a smile, thinking, "This is going to be fun."

It was that way when I was a very young boy, when a Verne novel would whisk me away from the suburban comfort of my Bethesda, Maryland, home and off into a world of adventure; and it is that way now, as I return in middle age to "Voyage au centre de la Terre" (1864), the novel that we in the Anglosphere know somewhat better as "Journey to the Centre of the Earth."

Verne's storytelling verve and the far-ranging quality of his imagination are very much on display here. Moreover, of all Verne's novels this may be the one that partakes most of the nature of myth. We're all used to the idea that the archetypal, mythic story involves a descent into the abyss, wherein the hero combines a physical journey beneath the surface of the earth with a voyage downward into his or her own psychology, a confrontation with one's own inner demons. In the case of "Journey to the Centre of the Earth," the whole damned *thing* is a descent into the abyss.

The heroes of our journey are Dr. Otto Lidenbrock, a German professor who is singularly driven by his need to find something that no one has discovered before; Lidenbrock's young nephew Axel, who narrates the novel and in the process reveals his own trepidation about making the journey; and Hans, the stoic Icelander who serves as guide, leading Lidenbrock and Axel from the crater at Snæfellsjökull in western Iceland on their journey to - well, you know, the center of the earth.

Lidenbrock is led on this journey by his discovery of a scrap of manuscript written by a 16th-century Icelandic scientist named Arne Saknussemm. Axel does not share Lidenbrock's enthusiasm for the voyage, but is induced in part by his love for Gräuben, Lidenbrock's beautiful young ward, who encourages him to make the journey. They leave Hamburg and make their way to Iceland, enlist the services of Hans, and make their way down into the crater of Snæfellsjökull.

Character development is not Verne's strong suit. Throughout the novel, Lidenbrock is obsessed and enthusiastic; Axel is reluctant; Hans is stoic and accepting: the characters simply demonstrate these traits in varying ways as the novel progresses. One reads a Verne novel not for characterization but for plot, and this novel has plotline in abundance - one life-threatening episode after another. Like Odysseus or Aeneas in the epic poems of classical times, Lidenbrock, Axel, and Hans proceed from one danger to another - dead-end tunnels, hunger and thirst, storms, sea monsters, giants, floods, molten lava. The more I think about it, the more I think Verne may have had the Odyssey and the Aeneid in mind as he wrote this book.

Because I read "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" on a trip to Iceland, I enjoyed the leisurely manner in which Verne conveys his journeyers from their Hamburg home to Iceland, and lets them sojourn for a bit in Reykjavík and its environs before finally - at the beginning of Chapter 17 of a 45-chapter book, 90 pages into a 233-page novel - setting the three on their journey coreward. These initial chapters display Verne's talent for descriptive writing: "The longer of the streets in Reykjavík runs parallel to the coast, and it is here that merchants and traders in cabins of horizontal red beams ply their trade....I had soon paced these sad and dreary thoroughfares; sometimes I spied a yellowing lawn like a threadbare woollen rug, or a vegetable garden whose meagre crops - potatoes, cabbage, lettuce - would not have looked out of place on a Lilliputian table. A few drooping gillyflowers did their best to adopt a sunny disposition" (p. 51). To those readers who would want Verne to hurry up and get on with center-of-the-earth stuff, I would counsel patience. Verne knows that a good book is all about the journey.

Once our three travelers have made their way into the crater of Snæfellsjökull, and follow the path set forth by Arne Saknussemm (the phrase "the shadow of Scartaris" becomes very important here), each new section of underground passage uncovers new wonders: "Sometime a series of vaults like the arches of the counter-nave in a Gothic cathedral appeared before us....A mile further on, we were forced to stoop beneath low, rounded arches in the Romanesque style, supported by large pillars formed by the rock face itself" (p. 100). When, eventually, the three find themselves on the shore of a vast underground ocean - Professor Lidenbrock immodestly designates it the Lidenbrock Sea - things get really interesting. The epic sea battle between an ichthyosaur and a plesiosaur that takes place in Chapter 33 is the earliest example I know of a storyteller looking for a way to bring modern people together with extinct dinosaurs - decades before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" (1912), and more than a century before "Jurassic Park."

This Penguin Books edition of "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" is particularly good for a couple of reasons. The introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley looks perceptively and with sympathy at the pressures under which Verne wrote, including an imperious and demanding editor. Editor Peter Cogman provides helpful footnotes that situate this novel within 19th-century geological studies and make clear that, like science-fiction novelists ever since, Verne studied his science carefully. He broke rules frankly and fearlessly, in accordance with the needs of his stories, but he worked to build a sense of verisimilitude, to get the reader believing in the story while the story is going on.

Do the characters seem flat? Yes, at times. Does Verne sometimes lead his characters into literal or figurative dead ends? Absolutely. Does he squander some interesting narrative opportunities - e.g., Axel's and Lidenbrock's discovery of mastodons being led by a man, "a giant capable of commanding these monsters....more than 12 feet tall" and carrying "an enormous bough, a crook worthy of this antediluvian shepherd" (p. 200)? Most certainly. And is the novel's resolution, through which Verne finds a way of quickly bringing major characters of the novel back to a surface they spent months descending from, an example of "deus ex monte"? Quite possibly. And yet, in a way, none of that matters.

"Journey to the Centre of the Earth" is a great and entertaining story. Small wonder that the posh restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower (a Verne-style achievement in itself) bears Jules Verne's name. Small wonder that this story has been filmed so many times (e.g., the 1959 film in which James Mason as the professor finds himself looking at rhinoceros iguanas dressed up as Dimetrodons; or the 2008 film in which Brendan Fraser as a geologist goes with his nephew and an Icelandic guide in following the clues left by "Vernians" who believe that Verne's novels offer clues for real-life exploration). This is a fun novel, a happy journey.
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