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Reviews of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869)

Review by michael a draper (2012-08-28)
In 1866 there are a number of sightings of an unknown object in the ocean. Since some of these sightings are far apart, some suggest that it might be a sea monster.

An expedition is set with the U.S. Naval frigate Abraham Lincoln, under Captain Farragut. They are firm in their resolve to find this monster.

Professor Pierre Aronnax of the Museum of Paris had written articles about this phenomenon of a possible sea monster and he was asked to accompany the others, along with his man, Conseil and Canadian harpooner Ned Land.

Once they were out to sea and searching for this monster, something was seen. Ned, Pierre and Conseil are in a small boat with Ned ready with his harpoon. Their boat is overturned and they are picked up by the submarine, the Nautilus, under Captain Nemo.

They are held captive as the Nautilus travels around the world. Captain Nemo makes constant proclamations of where they are and Pierre tells the reader some of the significance such as a sunken ship that had riches in it.

The style of writing is dry and without much emotion. I found the writing to be different from today and it was challenging to get into the story line.

In addition, some of the findings of Jules Verne were worth noting, such as the deep sea diving equipment. However, his title of 20,000 leagues that the submarine is said to go under the sea, is greater than the circumference of the earth.

It was interesting to read this book and view what was literature and adventure fiction almost one hundred years ago.

(This review refers to the 1872 version titled “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”)

Review by ratbas (2005-07-15)
Although the first two reviewers are right that there is a bit more Latin in this book than what many might consider necessary I wouldn't go so far as to think of it as filler. It does fit the personality of the characters. That said these parts do occasionally get in the way of a very good adventure story. I found the characters to be interesting and Verne allows them to play off each other in entertaining ways. Is the ending a let down? Yes. But the story along the way has more than a few good moments.

Review by spiphany (2004-04-09)
I got rather tired of the seemingly never-ending litany of names of fish and often found myself skimming them, although after a while there did seem to be a certain intellectual beauty in the way they’re listed off, sort of a paean of praise for the wonders of science. This book is really written as a celebration of science and rationalism and human ingenuity, and is an interesting document to the spirit of the time in which is was written. Intellectually, it’s interesting. Emotionally, I did not find the book fulfilling. “20,000 Leagues” is very concrete, very cerebral. It doesn’t deal with what it means to be human, with feelings, themes, ideals. Only facts. Verne seems to have written the book in order to expound on an idea, slapping a plot in on top to make a story out of it. The adventure (and the conclusion of it, which is hasty) is rather contrived, and the characters, although clearly defined at the outset, are rather simplistic and lack depth.

Review by ChefInnocent (2003-04-05)
I just finished reading this book 2 weeks ago. Ugh! Verne spends far too much time demonstrating that he has studied taxonomy, and not enough time actually developing a story. Nearly a third of the book is ramblings of plants, animals, and zoophytes. Some of this can be forgiven, as the characters Monsieur Aronnax and Consiel are scientists in this field. However, the book lacks character development and only hints at continuity.
Many of the chapters have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and are only there as side plots. The book is riddled with adventures that are unrelated and in no way further the story along.
When the conclusion of the book is finally met, the reader is content to be finished with the book. The ending is anti-climatic and long awaited. The reader is unlikely to find a plot or moral. The entire story is just a series of adventures.
Although Verne is not the worst author I have ever read, he certainly does not rank high on my list of authors to read. A friend of mine read another book by him and had a similar opinion.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2012
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