Stephen's Reviews > Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
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Sep 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: easton-press, lost-my-world, 1800s, science-fiction, classics-european, quests, classics
Read from December 23 to 26, 2011 — I own a copy

Gawd dim it, bollocks, ShazBot and shit snacks...I am so, SO bummed that I didn’t experience Jules Verne’s novels for the first time as a young man, rather than as an aging manolescent. Reading them now, as a 41 year old, I still find myself carried away in the rollickingness of his well crafted adventures, but part of me knows deep down in my nethers that there’s a warm, gooey nostalgia that will always be missing. This giant load of empty in my core, if filled, would likely have elevated this from a really good read to a cozy memory-rewind of simpler, happier times.

*coughs bitterness from aching heart.*

Alas, my loving parents were unintentionally guilty of literary child neglect. Thus, while I really enjoyed all those afternoons watching Gilligan’s Island, I think my time would have been better utilized immersing myself in the classics of Wells, Verne, Doyle and Poe.

So, yes, it hurts...
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...and I’m a little disappointed...
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...maybe even a skosh angry...
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But...*wipes tear*...no sense crying weeping uncontrollably over spilled milk** misspent reading years. I must just remember to ensure that I don’t make the same error with my own children. So far, so good.

**Why anyone would shed tears over spilled bovine teat juice is beyond me.

PLOT SUMMARY:

One of the most popular and beloved works within Verne’s 54 volume Les Voyages Extraordinaires, Journey to the Center of the Earth tells of the travels of Professor Lidenbrock, an accomplished and incredibly impatient, mineralogist, and his quiet, reserved nephew Axel.

While perusing an ancient manuscript, Lidenbrock discovers a mysterious message encrypted in runic script. After cracking the code, with unexpected help from young Axel, the professor discovers that the message describes how to locate a secret passage leading to, uh, take a wild guess. The pair immediately scamper off to Iceland where, with the help of hunter/guide named Hans Bjelke, they discover the hidden entrance and embark on a highly perilous, but even more highly enjoyable, adventure.

THOUGHTS:

Verne was a consummate story-teller who never wrote down to his audience or cut corners with his material. One of the most enjoyable aspects for me about reading his stories is the scientific thoughtfulness that Verne poured into his novels. True, much of his science is badly dated and many of his theories, including the central premise of this story, have long since been disproved and relegated to nonsenseville.

However, when written, Verne was conscientious in his attempt to be as accurate as possible and employed a rigor to his plot elements and story details that few can match. This diligence was the result of Verne’s desire to use his novels to use his novels as teaching tools as well as entertainment. This is a major bonus for the reader because Verne’s devotion to authenticity actually enhances the sense of wonder by creating an air of plausibility that allows the suspension of disbelief to occur unconsciously and, thus, unnoticed.

What I’m bushing around the beat about is that I really, really enjoyed this. I’m couldn't give it the full 5 stars because I thought the initial portion of the novel (i.e., the part before the entrance to the hidden passage) took a bit too long to develop and the time spent in the most interesting segment of the journey (i.e., the [censored to avoid spoilerage] was too fleeting. Still, there is genuine wonder here and excellently drawn characters who display remarkable depth for this kind of story. Add to that an ending that is perfectly suited for the tale and you have a classic, well done adventure yarn that should be read.

Oh, a final gripe in the interest of full disclosure. The ending’s awesomeness was dampened a tad for me by the compass “mystery” which I thought was overindulged by the Jules. Two days after finishing this, I am still mildly annoyed by that snippet of the tale so I thought I would be remiss if I failed to mention it.

However, minor nits and compass annoyance aside, this was a great experience. Definitely one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

4.0 stars.

P.S. I need to add a note to the doofus-brained asshats who put together the 1871 English translation published by Griffith and Farran. Dear Sirs, You SUCK!!! Worse, this version happens to be the one that the geniuses at Easton Press decided, in their unimaginable stupidity, to use in their collection of science fiction classic. The mind boggles. This literary assassination abridged and largely rewrote the story, even changing the main character’s name from Professor Lidenbrock to Hardwigg.

Thank Odin and Cthulhu, the unabridged audiobook I listened to was the original, quality translation. This actually gave me the ability to compare the to volumes. There is no comparison. If you are reading a version where the professor’s name is Hardwigg...toss it in the trash and find an original translation. As for the creators of the 1871 abomination, I only wish you could find yourself on the receiving end of justice...
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Lauraadriana (new)

Lauraadriana Jules Verne! Perfect pre Christmas reading! Happy Travels!


Stephen Thanks, Lauraadriana. It's a great trip so far.


message 3: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus part of me knows deep down in my nethers that there’s a warm, gooey nostalgia that will always be missing. This giant load empty in my core, if filled, would likely have elevated this from a really good read to a cozy memory-rewind of simpler, happier times

You have explained the feeling I have when y'all get all squealy and gushsome over some comic book I've never heard of and can't, for the life of me, comprehend why it's being praised. Looks like every other comic book to me....

*Why anyone would shed tears over spilled bovine teat juice is beyond me.

I believe, my dear manolescent, that you have fallen for the Britishiczation Brutalization Bind: In the original French, it was "No use crying over spilt Louis XIII cognac." A very true statement: No sense sittin' around cryin' when there's a pistol to be found and a miscreant to shoot in each kneecap before executing.


message 4: by Lea (new)

Lea Great review, as always. My only question -- why does the guy in the bottom GIF pull his shirt off before he attacks?! This is going to plague me . . .


Stephen Richard wrote: "In the original French, it was "No use crying over spilt Louis XIII cognac."

Now that is something worth crying over if you spill it. I'm misting up just thinking about it.


Stephen Lea wrote: "Great review, as always. My only question -- why does the guy in the bottom GIF pull his shirt off before he attacks?! This is going to plague me . . ."

I believe that is a "youth of today" thing. I have seen it before where kids pull off their shirts before they begin to fight. It's either to avoid getting it ripped/bloody, or a way to show the guy your fighting that you have better abs than he does.


message 7: by Lance (new)

Lance Greenfield Stephen wrote: "Lea wrote: "Great review, as always. My only question -- why does the guy in the bottom GIF pull his shirt off before he attacks?! This is going to plague me . . ."

I believe that is a "youth of..."


Football players, I'm sorry, soccer players, often rip their shirts off in celebration after scoring a goal. I have often wondered why, and have never found the answer. It is even more baffling since the grey old men who run the sport introduced a rule for an automatic official caution for ripping your shirt off. In soccer, two cautions equal a sending off for the remainder of the game and an automatic ban. Strange that you see players almost bust their opponents in two and remain on the fiels, yet baring one's six-pack is enough to get you dismissed!

Aside from that, I meant to say, great review Stephen. I can only agree with you that you had a deprived youth. I was privileged to read such books when I was very young. But console yourself with the thought that I probably missed out on lots of opportunities that you took!


message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily It could be worse, you could have been given a collection of those heavily abridged classics http://www.greatillustratedclassics.com/ and thought for a long time that you *had* read all those books.


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark Am relieved an explanation was given for the shirt off rip as i would've found that a question that reverberated in my mind otherwise but what about the poor triple jumper and his accidental mattress. Your pictures inserted today have given me food for nightmarish thoughts for weeks to come


Stephen Lance Greenfield wrote: "Aside from that, I meant to say, great review Stephen. I can only agree with you that you had a deprived youth. I was privileged to read such books when I was very young. But console yourself with the thought that I probably missed out on lots of opportunities that you took!.."

Thanks, Lance. I am slowly working my way through all these "should have read when I was younger" books and it is a lot of fun, especially as I am getting to share many of them with my daughters.


Stephen Emily wrote: "It could be worse, you could have been given a collection of those heavily abridged classics http://www.greatillustratedclassics.com/ and thought for a long time that you *had* read all those books."

LOL...thanks, Emily.


Stephen Mark wrote: "Am relieved an explanation was given for the shirt off rip as i would've found that a question that reverberated in my mind otherwise but what about the poor triple jumper and his accidental mattress. Your pictures inserted today have given me food for nightmarish thoughts for weeks to come."

Sorry about the nightmares, Mark. I agree those two gifs are very, very ouch.


Licha I'm not a guy but I feel you on this one. Why didn't I ever read this when I was a kid? Fantastic book. Must read the rest.


message 14: by Bob (new)

Bob Hartley I can't believe you'd put "bollocks" on par with "shazbot".


message 15: by Andrew (new) - added it

Andrew Kendall Hilarious and informative review. Definitely need to read this book.

Cheers!


Hannah For shits and giggles:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne...

As a fellow fan of Verne (Around the World in 80 Days, as read by Jim Dale, is a favorite 'desert island book' and I've read it close to ten times), I thought you'd get a kick out of the above article. :)


Hannah For shits and giggles:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne...

As a fellow fan of Verne (Around the World in 80 Days, as read by Jim Dale, is a favorite 'desert island book' and I've read it close to ten times), I thought you'd get a kick out of the above article. :)


Hannah For shits and giggles:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne...

As a fellow fan of Verne (Around the World in 80 Days, as read by Jim Dale, is a favorite 'desert island book' and I've read it close to ten times), I thought you'd get a kick out of the above article. :)


Hannah For shits and giggles:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne...

As a fellow fan of Verne (Around the World in 80 Days, as read by Jim Dale, is a favorite 'desert island book' and I've read it close to ten times), I thought you'd get a kick out of the above article. :)


Hannah Sorry..multiple posts. Can't find how to delete through the app. Mea culpa.


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