20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea discussion


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message 1: by Ashanan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:55PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ashanan ... am I the only one who thought this was dogshit writing? For the last half of the book, every time Ned speaks he is 'retorting' and none of the characters have any depth whatsoever except maybe, and I stress maybe, Captain Nemo. I saw the movie 'The Sphere' before I read this book, which draws inspiration in a certain sense from this book, so I was very excited when I started reading it. The giant squid, which in 'The Sphere' are very cool, are utterly boring in the book. They just file out on deck and hack them all to pieces, with barely any description or emotion involved. I was thoroughly disappointed by this book. Am I alone here?


message 2: by Julia (last edited Nov 12, 2008 11:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julia I've heard that it's difficult to find a good translation of Jules Verne. Except for the Oxford translation nearly every other one is a total bastardization of the original text, with one translator even going so far as to add an extra sentence to the end of every single paragraph. I think with foreign books you really have to be scrutinizing about the translation/edition you select.

Also, I think you have to think about this book as if you were reading it closer to when it was written. The ocean is still more mysterious to us than the surface of the moon. Think about the creative effort Jules Verne had to make to even come up with the idea of the Nautilus. Submarines were just being toyed around with in the 19th century, and electricity had hardly been popularized. This is the father of science fiction we're talking about. Respect.


Heather I didn't like it. I didn't finish it, but I thought the writing was poor and the characters thin. I've finished and attempted several Jules Verne books and they all seem to have the same characters with different names. His plot tends to drag at times as well.

I can blame the writing on the translator, but not the characters or the plot.

Eighty Days Around the World was the only one I really enjoyed. That buttlerish fellow whose-name-I-do-not-remember was so funny!


message 4: by Larry (new) - added it

Larry Ashanan wrote: "... am I the only one who thought this was dogshit writing? ..."
Probably yes! But it does depend on the translation. I loved the version on my nintendo DS. Good simple adventure story.


Amanda Heather wrote: "I didn't like it. I didn't finish it, but I thought the writing was poor and the characters thin. I've finished and attempted several Jules Verne books and they all seem to have the same characters..."

I had trouble with this one, too. I just couldn't get into it. I tried to keep reading, thinking it would get better, but it didn't. I do think the idea of the book is brilliant - at the time it was written, hardly anybody new anything about the ocean and as Julia said, submarines "were just being toyed around with". It takes a lot of creativity to come up with that stuff. The story just didn't work for me.


Lisa I liked it---I am too much of a sci fi fan to ever call Jules Verne's writing that bad word!!! :) to each his own! I've always liked the earlier science fiction writings, and I loved this particular story. I read it at a very young age, so that impacted me differently maybe.


message 7: by David (new) - added it

David I need to do a re-read of this book. I read it a long time ago and enjoyed it, but I barely remember it now and I've met people who think otherwise and provide good reasons (as many of you do). Perhaps I had a good translated version, or maybe I was just excited to be reading THE Jules Verne, or maybe I just didn't know what was good or bad in fiction, or maybe I just enjoy reading old-school sci fi.


message 8: by Simon (last edited Apr 19, 2011 12:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Simon I have read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in both French and English, 2-3 times in French before the age of 15, 2-3 times in English afterwards. I barely see any differences, in both language it is great and the spirit of the writing comes through.

So, you may not have enjoyed it, but it is my favorite books of all time. It would be difficult to believe that any book can be enjoyed by every single person

As for the "thinness" of the characters - for goodness sake you don't read Jules Verne for deep characters. He is the ultimate boyhood writer. Read something else if you're looking for highly developed characters. Verne writes sci-fi and adventure.


Toby C This was the first real classic I ever read.


Trike It's by no means great literature, and the story does drag in spots, but I really liked it as a kid. Not enough to read it again, though. Heh.

You do sort of have to read it keeping in mind the era in which it was written. I had the same reaction to Moby-Dick, and a lot of the stilted language and sketched-in characterization is similar.


Dr.Muffin I thought it was good, if you thought about it, the characters had interesting personalities


Cherie Amanda wrote: "Heather wrote: "I didn't like it. I didn't finish it, but I thought the writing was poor and the characters thin. I've finished and attempted several Jules Verne books and they all seem to have the..."

I was very excited to read it after I found it included in a volume of 50 classic books that I downloaded for 99 cents on my Nook (I was looking for 'cheap or free' books after I had racked up $57.00 in two weeks). I thougt it was a little slow and did not like Ned at all. I was disappinted at the story at first, but I kept on. What is hard is to seperate the story from the movies that we have seen and the actual story of the book as it was written. I was enchanted by the food that they came up with that was made only from things in the ocean. I did no spend a lot of time overthinking things and was content to see what was going to happen next.


Timothy Darling I read this for the first time when I was in 7th grade and was flabberghasted. I had no trouble putting myself in the 19th century and enjoying it as if submarines were not commonplace. The adventure was the thing. I read all I could find by Verne after that. I re-read it as a senior and again just recently. I am glad to hear Simon say he enjoyed it in both, since I can't read it in French, but I just bought it in an Easton Press version, because I still think it influenced my tastes profoundly. Sorry you didn't like it, but wow, I think the concensus is against you.


Geneva I think that it is truly a matter of opinion as well as preference. I am personally a huge Jules Verne fan. I love all of his work, especially this one. This might be due to the fact that I loved the Disney movie when I was a little kid (which influenced me to later read the book).
Verne was WAY ahead of his time, he basically described nuclear power in this story. His detailed oriented writing is intelligent and imaginative.
I am sorry you didn't enjoy this classic. I guess we can't all enjoy the same things. Many love "Great Expectations" By Charles Dickens, and I absolutely hated it. Opinions vary no matter how praised or significant a book may be.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I thought that it was just alot of names, and information that was unnecessary. As if he had to go on for a page about the classification of sea life?


Maria I really liked the book, i just love every story that Jules Verne wrote he was an amazing writer; i think that a better way to understand this story is to read The Mysterious Island after you finish 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.


message 17: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark If one considers that the book has been written quite some time ago (1869/1870) some of the language and writings might come across somewhat dated. I know that I have read JV books quite often and remember them as very entertaining. However when you get to compare them with modern movies you might be not the person to continue reading any book because you might end up disappointed. However Sphere the movie was a piece of horsedung in my humble opinion.
Jules verne's books are still worthy of very high praise and my time reading them.


message 18: by Dru (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dru I found it quite a slog. Half of the book felt like Jules Verne had just taken a course in marine biology and had to show off how much smarter he was than his reader. None of that "classification" text was necessary, and it always put a grinding halt on the few times this seemed like an adventure story.


Narendra i think you can't complain about characters because it's old writing in which events were important not the development of characters.if you think about the time it was written,it was way ahead of that era.i still love this book.


message 20: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy Siegfried I found this a difficult book to read primarily as I was expecting an adventure story which it was...but there was quite a few rather dull (to me) descriptive passages about sea life that seemed more a recitation than an attempt to weave it into the adventure portion of the story. Having seen the Disney movie version and read the book I believe Disney took the best of the book for the movie and let the visuals take the place of the descriptive passages. This is one time the movie was infinitely better.


message 21: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Amy wrote: "I found this a difficult book to read primarily as I was expecting an adventure story which it was...but there was quite a few rather dull (to me) descriptive passages about sea life that seemed mo..."

Unless you like reading and have a fertile imagination.


Jeremy Poole You are not alone, this is a piece of dogs do. Pages and pages copied out of marine encyclopias desribing fish and little story.
It goes to show, classics, are not always that. Sometimes they are just old books.


message 23: by The (last edited Aug 08, 2012 06:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

The Artificer Verne was writing in an era of fantastic scientific growth. All of these "dull" passages speak to the love of classification that learned folk of the time enjoyed.

Science was making REAL connections in relationship and evolution in both the animal and plant kingdoms- examining for the first time both the external features as well as the internal workings of living things. Scientific discoveries were daily news and actually covered in the press of the time. People WERE fascinated by this information.

Verne was lauded at the time for his integrating ACTUAL scientific knowledge into his stories (much of which was completely destroyed in translation to English and other languages, especially the maths where translators were unfamiliar with the metric system).

It may be easy to call all of these scientific passages "boring" today- but that does a great disservice to the amazing spirit of discover and thirst for knowledge that was present when these books were written.

If only there were a bit more of that spirit today...


Trike Jeremy wrote: "You are not alone, this is a piece of dogs do. Pages and pages copied out of marine encyclopias desribing fish and little story.
It goes to show, classics, are not always that. Sometimes they are j..."


You have to recall the book was written when a lot of this stuff was new information.

Contrast it with total shit books like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo where the dude goes on and on about inconsequential things like which laptop is better. At least Verne's writing has some actual content to it, even if the the style is foreign to jaded MTV-editing sensibilities.


Jeremy Poole Trike wrote: "Jeremy wrote: "You are not alone, this is a piece of dogs do. Pages and pages copied out of marine encyclopias desribing fish and little story.
It goes to show, classics, are not always that. Somet..."

I agree totaly on, The girl witht he Dragon Tatoo.
The worst book for me is 'The rule of Four.' Try it its absolutely awful. It was a NY times bestseller.


Martin Hill When I was a kid, I tried reading "Leagues" twice without finishing it. When I got older, I finally read it all the way through and enjoyed it so much, I read it again. It's difficult for some people to read 19th century writers, especially when they are translations. You really have to have a love of language.


Jeremy Poole Be good and enjoy reading everything, I do.


Erika Ashanan wrote: "... am I the only one who thought this was dogshit writing? For the last half of the book, every time Ned speaks he is 'retorting' and none of the characters have any depth whatsoever except maybe..."
You gotta to understand that by the time that book was written, non of all the things described on it existed, also SERIOUSLY??? Are you comparing "The sphere" whit this book???? Only because they make a mention of the book doesn't mean the book is about that movie!!! Come on man!!!! Now, on the book you have the opportunity to travel 20,000 leagues but not deep sea.... You travel over the world, you learn about plAces you may have never been or hear about.....


Erika Mark wrote: "Amy wrote: "I found this a difficult book to read primarily as I was expecting an adventure story which it was...but there was quite a few rather dull (to me) descriptive passages about sea life th..."

Well, why we read if is not because we like to ????


message 30: by Kiri (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kiri I actually really enjoyed this book, and the pictures it painted of under sea life, while weaving an adventurous tale. I also really enjoy classical literature in itself, so once you get into the flow of classical literature (really classic lit isn't nearly as fast paced as modern day people are use to) I think its an easy and truly enjoyable read. For those looking for something more action packed, I'm sure there is a more modern day adaption of it somewhere.


Erika I'm with you girl


message 32: by A.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A.L. Butcher I liked it, I can't recall which translation/adaptation I had but it worked for me. I was so caught up in the story I didn't notic the "retort" thing::)


Robert Lent I read it recently. I would have been much more impressed with it if I had been a person living in 1870. Back then, submarines were only very crude prototypes. The depictions of underwater life must have been an eye opener to people in 1870. But I can strap on a scuba tank and see what would have been wonders to someone in 1870, and I can see far more of undersea life on TV. I've never been on a submarine, but I've seen them. That what would have been wonders in 1870 is commonplace today reduced the appeal of the book for me.


message 34: by Feliks (last edited Feb 18, 2013 07:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Those defending the book in this thread have made their case stand, it seems to me. I can hardly add better.

The book--as I encountered it, whatever edition it happened to be--contained all the scientific rumination that irked several of you--yet I accepted it without a twitch or a qualm.

Its part and parcel of the author's famous style; and inherent to the taste, the society, the genre and timeperiod in which he explored.

You might as well ask Dickens or Hugo or Dumas, to be less wordy, as ask Verne to be. Its part of what makes them--and continues to make him--beloved.

I might concur that its essentially 'just a guy thing that women don't grasp' --long, unrelieved passages of technical data plonked down in a way that consumes most of any chapter where you find it, obliterating the flow of action, character and dialog. But that's a "B" answer.

I'd rather just say: the effect of Verne's scientific description (written in such eloquent prose) is of a kind which I did not want to end. I love words and I love reading. This man had a superior intellect and he is communicating his POV to me--with really superb dexterity--all the way from the 1800s.

It was thrilling, and challenging in its way. I catch his excitement at what he's describing; marvel at it the way he structures his observations and organizes his topic. What awesomeness to follow along with the man's mind, encountering and itemizing all these marine curiosities.

These pedantic sections of the story contribute to the all-enveloping experience of the book; the feeling of being along on a ride; the impression of traveling through a mental landscape Verne which paints for us. Its his own imagination in full rein. I love that he is able to combine somewhat dry, methodical encylopediae with the lurid scenes of indian battles and squid attacks (stagey spectacle which could probably be found in any dozen lesser works of the day).

It makes the novel speak across the many decades and elevates it beyond the thin traditions of the typical hackneyed adventure tale. Without Verne's fantastic descriptions what would this novel be? A pot-boiler. A serial. A sea-opera.

Three cheers for the Jule Man!


Martin Hill Feliks wrote: "Those defending the book in this thread have made their case stand, it seems to me. I can hardly add better.

The book--as I encountered it, whatever edition it happened to be--contained all the sc..."


Exactly correct. When you read this book, you are reading a way of writing from the period in which it was written. If you cannot understand it, or enjoy its writing, it is because your idea of writing is rooted in 20th century prose. In that case, I suggest those who feel Verne's writing was sluggish should never read Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey books, even though two were made into the very popular movie "Master and Commander." O'Brian writes in an 19th century manner, and if you don't enjoy the English language, you won't enjoy his writing.


message 36: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Franklin I found some of the lists of flora and fauna tedious, but you have to remember that we are reading it in a society that has had TV for over half a century. We are familiar with and have seen films and documentaries of most of the weird, wonderful and diverse life on our planet. Jules Verne's readers did not have this privilege, this was a great age of discovery and books like Jules Verne's were in high demand because, for many, they were their only way of 'learning' about such stuff.

When reading these books try to think about the society of the time and put yourself in the minds of the typical reader of that time. You will enjoy the books so much more if you can do this.


Bryan You definitely don't have to live in the 19th century to love this book, but if you're looking for non-stop action with lots of gunfights and explosions, you should stick to Tom Clancy novels, or maybe just not bother reading and watch TV and movies instead. This, in my opinion, was a fantastic book. The science was way ahead of its time(must we always measure everything by the yardstick of the present?), the food scenes made me hungry when I read them, the Nautilus is still way cooler than any submarine I've ever seen, Nemo is a compelling villain/anti-hero, especially in light of what we learn about his past from The Mysterious Island...basically, one of my favorite books.

And if you think the movie Sphere was better than this book, then I have no respect for you whatsoever.


Feliks LMAO!! :D

This is a guy even blunter than me. Rock on!


message 39: by Feliks (last edited Feb 18, 2013 11:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks Bryan wrote: "(must we always measure everything by the yardstick of the present?)..."

^^^wonderful sentiment. There's nothing stupider than the present-day; nothing more conventional; dull; dry; tedious; boring. I want to go through life with a non-stop, constant sense of wonder and curiosity. I want to question and doubt everything I see. I don't want to be able to conveniently dissolve or abolish all my questions by clicking into Google to 'instantly solve' every ambiguity for me. That's derailing my own process of --and pleasure in--of discovery.

Einstein said, when you start accepting what you think are the true and final answers... you have stopped using your brain. And he was right.


message 40: by A.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A.L. Butcher I liked it a lot, although I would have liked to know more about Nemo. I tend to read quite a lot of 19th Century writing and so the prose didn't bother me. It was a great adventure, with more than hint of mystery. For the date set and date written the idea of a submarine like that was extraordinary.


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Verne's books may move slower than some people are used to nowadays, but the story still stands up (people are still reading this so it must be) - books like this will still be going when no-one has ever heard of some of our modern authors.


Feliks ^^^ great comment. And too true. Verne and many other classic writers never had the marketing, promotion and publicity tools authors enjoy today and contemporary authors still won't outshine such giants.


Kristin Vincent I thought it was decent enough. It had cool areas they went to. The island was my favorite.


message 44: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Franklin I actually follwed the journey on Google Maps using the satellite view to look at the various places they went by. Sad isn't it! But it was quite interesting leaving me wanting to go and visit those places.


Feliks Thumbs up. link?


message 46: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Franklin Feliks wrote: "Thumbs up. link?"

*scratches head* link? To what?


Feliks Link to route in Google Map. What did you type in to get the display? I once found Steve McQueen's car chase in 'Bullitt' but it was a fan site that linked to Google. If you went to Google directly, I'm just curious what your search term was? Thx


message 48: by Mike (last edited Feb 21, 2013 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Franklin Ah I'm with you! Nothing so sophisticated I'm afraid, I just scrolled around on the google world map, zooming in and out and switching between map and satellite views as appropriate, and finding stuff based on the text! Not always totally successful as many place names have changed since those days!

However it was a fascinating sidleine to the reading and I learnt an awful lot more inthe process!


Feliks Got it. I see. Thanks for clarifying...y'know, someone really should set it up as a 'route'. Its cooler that way; because it replays automatically (has little VCR controls) and also you can stop and examine things at your own pace. This could be really be done for lots of 'journey' books, say for example 'Going After Cacciotta'. Hope someone takes the initiative on this someday!


message 50: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Franklin Hadn't thought of that; would be cool though!


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