Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

It's really hard to take a photo of marbleized paper!  My hand isn't still enough and so the paper looks sort of psychedelic.  This copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, pretty and substantial, is from The Heritage Press / The Heritage Club.

Truthfully, I had the same problem with this book that I had with Moby Dick:  too much information. I was expecting an exciting adventure under the sea, as the title suggests, but several times I was pounded with so much information that my head hurt.  I didn't need to know the Latin names of all the fish and mollusks and whales and other sea creatures.  Paragraph after paragraph.  I happen to like Latin, studied it for a bit, and love it when it applies to plant names.  But not in my escapist adventure book.

A mysterious 'thing' had been crashing into ships.  A moving island or sand bar?  A creature of the deep?  Nah, it's Captain Nemo in his submarine!  Mr. Aronnax, Assistant Professor in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, is asked to go on a ship, the Abraham Lincoln, to find this thing and identify it.  The thing crashes into the Abraham Lincoln and M. Aronnax, his personal assistant, Conseil, and a Canadian harpooner, Ned Land, are thrown overboard. 

They find themselves inside Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus.  Captain Nemo tells them that once on the Nautilus, they can never leave.  He can't have his secrets revealed to the world.  They're treated well, they're fed well.  But they're still imprisoned on the submarine.  Aronnax, being a scientist, doesn't mind so much.  Seeing the underwater world through the windows of the Nautilus is fascinating.  Nemo has a wonderful library (and an organ, famous artwork, all the comforts of a wealthy home), too.

They travel around the world  -  under the sea.  They occasionally surface to replenish their fresh air and there are times when they are allowed to explore islands.  They almost get done in by savages in Papua.  They sometimes put on diving gear and Nemo takes them exploring underwater.  They get stuck under an iceberg, they watch Nemo and his crew 'bury' a dead crew member in a coral cemetery.  They're attacked by giant cuttlefish and sharks and other scary, watery beings.

But Ned Land wants off the vessel.  He, Aronnax, and Conseil try several times to escape, but either the sea's too rough, they're too far from land, or something else interferes.  The Nautilus sinks a ship and then wanders aimlessly through the sea.  They realize that Nemo is a madman, on a voyage of revenge.  The Nautilus gets sucked down by a huge whirlpool off Norway, but the three escape in a small boat that, somehow, survives the maelstrom.

I admire Verne for his thorough research and some creations that eventually were realized.  But, for my taste, the adventure was thin and the facts were heavy.  


  1. Thanks, I definitely won't bother with this one!

    1. I was disappointed, but maybe my expectations were based on the exciting movies based on his books.

  2. Oops, I also meant to say that I love that marbleized book binding.

    1. I'm a sucker for marbleized papers, too.