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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas

565 pages6 hours


Professor Pierre Aronnax is part of a team sent to investigate reports of a sea monster—suspected to be a narwhal—off the coast of New York. They soon discover that the monster is in fact a submarine called the Nautilus, headed by Captain Nemo, an enigmatic man who has withdrawn from the world. When Arronnax and his team are taken prisoner by Nemo, the Nautilus heads into the deepest fathoms of the seas where adventure and discovery await.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas is a science-fiction classic that has been adapted into numerous films, television episodes, comic books and graphic novels. This edition uses the 1991 F. P. Walter translation which restores a great deal of material that was cut in the original English translations of the work.

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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas - Jules Verne

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I loved all the descriptions of underwater life, and the different places the characters visit. I wanted to become a marine biologist after I finished reading!
I loved all the descriptions of underwater life, and the different places the characters visit. I wanted to become a marine biologist after I finished reading!
How to begin... there are some aspects of this book that were extremely fascinating and the adventure that Jules Verne writes is captivating. What I did not care for were the excessive uses of nautical terms as well as zoological/biological terms used to describe everything in the book. Perhaps it is just more evidence of the dumbing down of society as we no longer describe things in these fashions and makes it difficult for the reader of today to follow. Even with the author's fluent and graceful writing. The thing that most irritated me, was that all my life I've been led to think the Nautilus was attacked by a giant squid when that chapter in the book was described VERY differently! However, I guess I cannot fault the original story for how other interpretations have distorted it. Still, I can see why this book is so timeless and I encourage everyone to give it a read to enjoy the great adventure with mad Captain Nemo under the sea.
This rating is a childhood rating. Hooked me on Science Fiction when I read it.
To be upfront, I thought there would be a lot more action in this story. I never read it in school, so coming at it as an adult was intriguing. That being said, I was not let down. Verne is very versed in sea life (this book is chock full of jargon) and as a science nerd, it was fascinating. And somehow, through all the science and tech, he was able to create a story that is often exhilarating.
I suppose that as an 'abridged just for you' version of a book, I shouldn't have had my expectations up so high. But I did, and while the overall novel was great, I really, really wanted more out of this book. Especially description-wise. It kept cutting out halfway or jumping from item to item so quickly I got minor whiplash. I am unsure if an unabridged version exists, but I hope it finds its way to me at some point.

However, all that being said, I rather enjoyed the novel. It was fantastic, if a bit brief.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of those classic science fiction books that should be on any science fiction fans reading list. Being around so long (Verne originally published the book in 1869), and available in so many versions, translations, and media, can make reviewing the book difficult. Most readers either have read the book, or will want to read it because it is one of the "classics" of the science fiction genre. That caveat being said, here's my review of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The story opens with reports of strange sightings and damage to ships by an unknown creature. The narrator, Pierre Aronnax, is a professor of the natural sciences and a medical doctor from Paris. While returning from a trip to collect fossils and other specimens from Nebraska he is given a chance to hunt down this mysterious monster aboard the ship, Abraham Lincoln. Aronnax has previously hypothesized that the creature responsible for the encounters is a large form of narwhal. Joining Aronnax on the trip is his servant, Conseil, and a whaler and harpooner, Ned Land. The Abraham Lincoln eventually encounters the supposed monster, and the three men are thrown overboard when the creature rams the ship. They are miraculously rescued when they discover that it was not a creature at all, but a submersible boat. The rest of the novel covers the various adventures and settings that Aronnax and the others discover while being the "guests" of Captain Nemo, the builder of the famed Nautilus. As with most of Verne's works, the story is told in the form of a travelogue, with the story being recounted as if reading from a journal or interview with the narrator - Professor Aronnax. The stories of adventure - traveling under Suez, hunting in a kelp forest, seeking the South Pole and being trapped in ice, and the famous attack of the Nautilus by giant squid - are interspersed with more sedate discussions of the workings of the ship, or the Professor's enthrallment with Captain Nemo. That is quite interesting since Nemo has essentially captured the three men and refuses them to ever leave the Nautilus again. Verne's gift is to create a thrilling adventure and to expound upon the wonders of technology. His description of the Nautilus and its operation is decades ahead of its time. He even describes a practical, and nearly identical to the modern equivalent, SCUBA system for breathing underwater that was about 80 years ahead of its time. Verne does miss the mark with many of his speculations about the natural world. He didn't foresee the theory of plate tectonics, and his description of Antarctica misses the mark. (And I give him creative license to include the fabled Atlantis - it was an adventure story after all.) But that doesn't detract from the adventure story that he is telling.My biggest problem with the story is with the characters. Verne spends so much time recounting the travelogue of Aronnax that the characters are not fleshed out. The only one who seems real is Aronnax himself. His two companions, the forgettable Conseil and the stereotyped Ned Land (who's last name is entirely reflected in his constant desire to flee the Nautilus) are mere window dressings for Aronnax, somebody he can reflect his own ideas upon. But what is really annoying is that we get to know so very little about Captain Nemo himself. A suburb engineer, master of the sea, fearless and stoic in the face of danger, we learn so little about his character. There are many secrets about Nemo that Verne teases the reader with, but we are never shown the answers to them, such as his motivations, the reason he quit the land to forever roam the sea, or his past. That was a disappointment. If you are a fan of science fiction I recommend that you read Verne's classic at some point. Even among his own works I do not consider it to be his best, but it is worth the read to see the early works of the science fiction genre. If you want to listen to the work (like I did) I do highly recommend the version from Tantor Media narrated by Michael Prichard. I am familiar with Prichard's narration from other works and he again delivers a great performance here. (I checked out this version from my local library.)
Good story, but too much biological minutiae.
How to begin... there are some aspects of this book that were extremely fascinating and the adventure that Jules Verne writes is captivating. What I did not care for were the excessive uses of nautical terms as well as zoological/biological terms used to describe everything in the book. Perhaps it is just more evidence of the dumbing down of society as we no longer describe things in these fashions and makes it difficult for the reader of today to follow. Even with the author's fluent and graceful writing. The thing that most irritated me, was that all my life I've been led to think the Nautilus was attacked by a giant squid when that chapter in the book was described VERY differently! However, I guess I cannot fault the original story for how other interpretations have distorted it. Still, I can see why this book is so timeless and I encourage everyone to give it a read to enjoy the great adventure with mad Captain Nemo under the sea.
In 1866, a mysterious sea-creature has been plaguing the shipping lanes of the oceans. Several ships have sighted and even been sunk by a long, unknown and unnamed threat. Professor Pierre Aronnax, a marine biologist, theorizes that the creature in question is a narwal of gigantic proportions, come from the depths of the ocean herself. He is invited aboard the Abraham Lincoln as the ship embarks on a quest to seek and destroy the creature before it can do more harm. However, the professor, his assistant Consiel and a whaler named Ned Land are surprised to discover that, upon being thrown from the ship during a battle with the 'creature' to discover that it is, in fact, a magnificent submarine. They are taken aboard by the creator and leader of the vessel, the enigmatic Captain Nemo, and there kept prisoner. Aronnax finds himself enthralled beneath the waves on this aquatic adventure, but he must take into account the feelings of his companions as the months roll by. Jules Verne is not for everyone. He is, by no means, a difficult read, but he is a thick read. Many of his works are heavily laden by his vast amounts of knowledge and research, and 20,000 Leagues is certainly no exception. Throughout the journey, we are given glimpses through the professor's eyes of the myriads of creatures and plants that he sees all over the world and he tends, as the narrator, to go on about these things for some paragraphs. I decided, not far in, that teachers should use this book as they have used Billy Joel's song 'We didn't start the fire' or whatever it is called, for years--make a list of the places, peoples and creatures listed throughout this novel and give it to the students for picking paper topics. I have a feeling it could be quite successful. Anywho. I really did find this book an enjoyable read, despite the scientific lulls. The Professor's excitement in the element combined with his intrigue at the mysterious figure Nemo makes him an excellent narrator. In his professorial role, he is continually observing and questioning and learning, providing details for the reader to clearly picture and absorb the actions and settings. Nemo himself is an enigma to the narrator and possibly even more so to the reader, as it is an interpretation of a man instead of a description of a man from an omnipotent or unbiased narrator...of course, there are those who would say there is no such thing as an unbiased narrator, but we shall not get into that here. It is a lonely argument when one-sided, as it would be. Nature of a blog post and all that. I am sorry that this is such a pathetic review, but I'm still not entirely sure how I should be writing these silly things, not to mention if I should be. Oh well. Off to play Scrabble.
If you are interested in the state of ichthyology in the 1860's this is the book of you. Every new area visited starts with an extensive list of the flora & fauna of the ocean and as far as I can tell is the most scientifically accurate part of the book, the rest sadly does not hold up as well. This mostly feels like a research project hung over a very loose plot. There is little story or plot and no character development to be found. The central mystery of the who and why of Nemo is only resolved in the most superficial manner. While it is somewhat interesting to see what was state of the art in the mid 19 century this is a story crying out for an abridged version.
A classic that I had always meant to read . . .The first thing I learned was that I had always been in error in my expectations from the title. I had thought that the ship had descended 20,000 leagues under the ocean, but, of course, the submarine had merely undertaken a journey of 20,000 league while submerged. As a result, the speculative science basis for the book was much better grounded, and Verne gets many things right - along with a series of clangers.I had recently read Edgar Allan Poe, and found many similarities in their approach to early science fiction (to creating the genre of science fiction, really). A good read.Read March 2017
This book shows the true roots of science fiction. A story so fully of carefully researched facts about the various oceans of the world and the fish and plant life in them that you could almost believe that the nautilus and captain nemo did exist and the wonders they showed our narrator exsisted as well.
Science fiction is about taking what we know and expanding it just that little bit more into the impossible. Or the one day maybe possible and then seeing what might happen.
Quiet apart from that this is a story that brings home the massive change in attitude our society has had in regard to the environment and its study. Nemo himself is somewhat of a conservationist "this would be killing for the sake of killing" he tells Ned the harpooner. He kills willingly for food or in his search for revenge but will not be party to senseless destruction.
We never learn what Nemo actually hopes to achieve or what happens to the nautilus in the end. In many ways I think this would have added to the believability of the story when it was first published.
I know it's a classic, but come on... How many descriptions of fish do we need?
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of the most intriguing books I have ever read. Jules Verne predicts so many technologies that didn't exist in his time, but do exist today in some form. For example, in Verne's time there was no such thing as a deep sea submarine, but in this work of art, Verne depicts a submarine which is able to hold a crew under water for 48 hours, and it's impervious to the shells of the cannons of the 1800's. 20,000 Leagues has many surprising events in it. Humans are so oblivious to the hi-tech creation of one captain, Captain Nemo, that when the US Navy first see his submarine, they think it's a huge monster! Later on in the book, many mysteries are uncovered, such as the myth of Atlantis, Giant Squid, and many more.I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book that is action-packed throughout the entire thing, but there is some action in it. If you're a reader who's looking for a book that makes you think about the mysteries around us, and has a few good action sequences, then definitely pick this book up.
As much an underwater travelogue as it is a sci fi/steampunk classic, Jules Verne takes us around the world, thru the depths of the ocean with the enigmatic Captain Nemo at the helm. Narrated by a Professor Arronax, a French naturalist accidentally swept into the world of Captain Nemo, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is thought to be an allusion to Homer's Odyssey- and I suppose it is- but it's theme of one man's defiance of humanity, especially after being disappointed and devastated by it, is a theme repeated time and again throughout ALL literature and entertainment.The story begins with the Professor joining a hunting expedition for a large underwater creature menacing the ships traversing the waters of the world. After a brush with the strange sea creature sweeps Professor Arronax, his companion Conseil ,and the brutish Canadian whaler, Ned Land, overboard their ship, they find themselves unexpectedly rescued not by the large narwhale they were chasing, but rather a man-made creature instead- Captain Nemo's underwater ship, the Nautilus.Unsure of their three new companions, Nemo keeps them imprisoned till he decides what to do with them, but when he finds at least one of the ragged men to be a man of thinking, he decides to let them have free roam of the ship- with a couple conditions: They must go back to their rooms when asked- with no questions asked by them- and they must never leave the Nautilus.Ned Land, a lover of freedom, is furious and Professor Arronax is worried as well, but quickly finds himself enraptured with the amazing sights to behold and the chance to be the first to catalog them!Soon months fly by with Ned getting more restless and approaching an inevitable crisis point, although just as caught up in the new adventures around them.Hunting in underwater "forests", amazing underwater creatures never seen before, underwater volcanoes, caves and hidden channels, along with natural terrors like hurricanes, icebergs, and a spot aptly named the navel of ocean- all of this to be borne until the Nautilus's fierce implacable captain reveals his heart of vengeance in an all out battle with another ship.When confronted with the true nature of Nemo, that archangel of hate as Professor Arronax calls him, the professor agrees it's time to leave and they make their plans only to be thwarted by a squid of colossal dimensions. But Nemo wrestles his ship free in his usual efficient manner and now it is only Nemo himself left to block their escape.Written in the late 1800's, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a marvel. Verne imagined self sufficient underwater vessels, electric "bullets" (that's tazers to you and me) and all kinds of things that is norm to modern man, but to a man on the brink of the 20th Century only fantastical. He also surprised me with his outright admonitions of humanity for its over fishing/whaling and the dire consequences if left unchecked.Although I could have done with less of the eye-glazing cataloging and info dumping, when the action hits, it hits in a big way.Truly a man ahead of his time, Jules Verne deserves his unofficial title as the father of science fiction as he teaches, imagines, admonishes and entertains generation after generation- but isn't that what good sci fi is supposed to do?
there is only so many report on fish you can take in a book. After a while every coral looks like the other. And lots of unanswered questions. Where did Capt Nemo come from. What about the strange language? What happened that he decided to hide in his submarine. Maybe for 1860, this was a great adventure book, but now it is simply dated.
"At ten o'clock in the evening the sky was on fire. The atmosphere was streaked with vivid lightning. I could not bear the brightness of it; while the captain, looking at it, seemed to envy the spirit of the tempest."

A disappointment, albeit one with some treats. The book is slow and wilfully digressive (all those fish), but in its characterisation of Captain Nemo it is superb: a man who would shut himself off from the world but is too angry to leave it alone; frustrated by the fact his anger does not mean more, using his grief to justify a position of moral arbiter despite his obvious crimes. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a terrific character study entombed in an almost interminable record of imagined oceanography.

A crazy man guiding the ship who has given up on mankind and who refuses to stand on dry land. A coral cemetery. Passing through the Suez. Atlantis. An iceberg. The South Pole. Ice that almost traps the ship. A battle with poulps. A terrible storm. A ship with all her crew sunk. A maelstrom. These are just some of the adventures you will experience when you read this zany book. At times, you will feel like you are reading from an encyclopedia of the time and at times you may wonder whether Jules Verne just made up random creatures and random facts about the underwater world. But I think, in the end, you will be glad you made this voyage.
As a piece of proto science-fiction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was more or less what I expected. There is some adventure here, but mostly Verne uses the book to discuss his imagined designs of a submarine, diving suits, and other nautical equipment. Also explored is Verne's knowledge of ocean life and the wrecks that have happened therein, as well as his speculation as to the nature of the South Pole and Antarctica. Most of this (besides Antarctica) is quite accurate for the time, though this stopped being so impressive to me when I did some research and found out that much of the equipment Verne described actually existed in at least the prototype stage when Verne was writing this. There is a degree of Verne foreseeing the future of marine technology here, but it is a lesser degree than you might expect. Otherwise the narrative takes the form of a travelogue, hitting a large number of underwater adventure scenarios, but these segments were not overly engaging. Anyway, this might be a good read for you if you are interested in early science fiction or submarine life as conceived in the 1800s, but be prepared for lots of mechanical specifications, discussions of sea currents, and catalogues of fish and not so much in the way of actual excitement.
I read the abridged version with my 6-year-old son. What a great adventure--we both enjoyed it.
This book is so close to my heart. It's the second time I've read this book, but it's as bold and beautiful, as memorable and deep as I felt it was the first time I read it. Nonetheless, I am filled with so many emotions right now upon completion of this book that I'm nearly at a loss for what to say. This story is one of adventure, indomitable and evoking so many sights of creation in your mind's fantasy! Your imagination is constantly at a whirl with this book! Half the time while reading it I wanted to be sitting near a computer to look up the fantastic and intricate names of the species of life found in this underwater world I've never before known possessed so many wonders! And the other half of the time, I chose not to because I was in awe, imagining the colors and designs of these wondrous creatures so very few of us ever think about, and could ever know. It is no fish tale, but a tale of wonder that makes any reader marvel, no matter how scientific it may seem. Though I did not myself understand many of the classifications and "fancy" names that were mentioned, it was all secondary to the amazing world that you were able to travel through for the first time on this journey beneath the oceans.

Yet while the greatest part of this tale is adventure and exploration of a world unknown, the other half is represented by its few, but remarkable main characters. Professor Aronnax, Conseil, Ned Land... and Captain Nemo, of the Nautilus. These first three characters create what you can fast see is a harmony between themselves that keeps the book flowing. Whenever one part may begin to get trying or dull, another one of the three comes in and will change the pace of the book, keeping it going. And while for some the classification and description of myriads of fish and plants may grow tiring, the infinite variety and pictures in my mind of these creatures are what make up a rainbow of realism and delight me in the more action-oriented parts of the tale. It is kept moving swiftly, and yet tells so many parts of a long story, that you are able to experience truly an entirely full realm of thoughts in a book so short for the many wonders it has certainly left out. After reading this, one can never look at the ocean the same way again, nor at the simplest of things that inhabit it. It brings a magnificence of life to something so taken for granted today by most of us, and the steady majesty with which it's presented gives one the sense that they have learned more than they ever could have before, once they come to the end of this seemingly "endless" tale.

For it does come to an end. And I assure those of you who may seem weary or tired by the informative and scientific aspect of the book that there is a... an ending like none you've ever seen. An ending with so many questions wrapped up in them, so much emotion... that your heart will be either pushed to the brink or torn and bursting with the violent, writhing feelings that come up in the last few chapters. It's as though every wonder, every beauty we saw was all just leading up to this ever growing mystery of who this captain is, of what submerged a man like Nemo under the waves and brought him to a point of no return like none other. There is deep meaning and feeling in him that lies so turbulent and inexpressible underneath the surface. He is more than just mystery: he is the jewel polished by every wave and crevasse, every turbulent instance, every wonder.... He is a conglomeration so complex and fascinating that I cannot imagine any heart could stand unmoved by him and his story. For every greatness in him there are an infinite number of threads that lead down to his core that remains so very faintly unveiled for us throughout the story. And I must say, it is for him and to learn more and more about him that I read the novel half the time. For without Nemo, without his hidden and yet tangible self right there before us, we would never have gone to the places we did, either physically through the imagination, or emotionally through his unfolding story. He is a driving force unlike any other captured in a single character. It is no lie that countless people have been urged on solely for a love and fascination of this man. It is he who makes our adventures so vivid, and worth more than what they seem.

No one who reads to the end of this book will be disappointed, except by a will to know more. To follow Captain Nemo down once more to the depths. Not to leave him. Or will you be glad to? *Smiles* That is the question you will know the answer to once you have ventured deep under the lands we know, far closer to life and peace than you ever imagined, into a marvel unlike you've ever experienced, all tied back to a single man, and his extraordinary life; his extraordinary story.

For those with a love of adventure, for those who seek mystery in places unsought-for, this tale will fill you with so many things that you will be left forever the wiser and more experienced by the journey you take. For it is not the end, but the journey with this man that makes this book magnificent. It only reflects what admiration and wonder I have for everything else about this book. It is so silly... and yet, I will forever sit here and think of him, one of these greatest characters of all time. I will count the years and know that I have no chance of meeting him. But oh... Nemo. My heart goes out to you, in love and devotion. Find peace, good sir. You are worth it.

This is worth it.
This book intrigued me more than I expect, given the profoundly boring first few pages. Once the narrator finally was aboard the Nautilus, Verne's ability as a science fiction adventure write bloomed. He described dazzling underwater worlds, strange men and animals, and mysteries of the depth with excellent prose. I can see why this is a classic science fiction novel. Recommend for the ocean lover and the nerd alike.
Given this tale's reputation, I was expecting a rip-roaring adventure of man against nature, technology versus beast, maybe even a bit of pirate-style swashbuckling excitement. Instead, I got a travelogue - the diary of a scientist classifying life below the ocean. The famed squid that seems to figure so heavily in every retelling of 20,000 Leagues factors into a single chapter out of forty-seven. That being said, I still enjoyed it. I just wish it wasn't so horribly mis-sold (kinda like when someone accustomed to Boris Karloff and Halloween costumes reads the original Frankenstein for the first time. It's still great, it's just...not what you've been told to expect).
What a wonderful amazing story!!
I've long wanted to read the story of Captain Nemo and the undersea adventures of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. I'm now glad to have read it and overall enjoyed the story. I can understand how this story had such a large impression on society in the late 1800s and early 1900s where life under the oceans was almost a complete mystery. I found the novel a bit dry and slow at parts but it was still a pleasure to read. For those looking to read a novel which had such huge impact on the development of science fiction one needs not look further than this.