This classic of nineteenth century French literature has been consistently praised for its style and its vision of the world. Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel travel across Iceland, and then down through an extinct crater toward a sunless sea where they enter a living past and are confronted with the origins of man. Exploring the prehistory of the globe, this novel can also be read as a psychological quest, for the journey itself is as important as arrival or discovery. Verne's distinctive combination of realism and Romanticism has marked figures as diverse as Sartre and Tournier, Mark Twain and Conan Doyle.
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About the Author
Date of Birth:February 8, 1828
Date of Death:March 24, 1905
Place of Birth:Nantes, France
Place of Death:Amiens, France
Education:Nantes lycée and law studies in Paris
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"
Copyright © 2009 Jules Verne.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
My Uncle Lidenbrock
The Stange Parchment
My Uncle is Baffled
I Find the Key
Hunger Defeats Me
I Argue in Vain
The First Stage
We Reach Iceland
Our First Dinner in Iceland
Our Guide Hans
A Final Argument
The Summit of Sneffels
Inside the Crater
Our Real Journey Begins
Ten Thousand Feet Below Sea-Level
A Dead End
The New Columbus
We Find Water
Under the Sea
A Day of Rest
Lost and Panic-Stricken
I Hear Voices
An Underground Sea
We Set Sail
A Battle of Monsters
The Great Geyser
An Unpleasant Shock
A Human Skull
The Professor Gives a Lecture
We Meet an Obstacle
Down the Tunnel
Shot Out of a Volcano
Back to the Surface
Reading Group Guide
1. Deciphering Arne Saknussemm’s parchment does not come easily to Professor Lidenbrock, the profound analyst. Indeed, Verne has shown us, right from the start, that he will not take his audience’s suspension of disbelief for granted. Discuss the role of logic in the novel; how does Verne’s meticulous manipulation of science and history increase the believability–and ultimately the reader’s enjoyment–of the adventure?
2. Dwelling on their shared hardships, Axel says, “My uncle bore them like a man who is angry with himself for yielding to weakness: Hans, with the resignation of his placid nature; and I, to speak the truth, complaining and despairing the whole time. I could not bear up against this stroke of ill-fortune.” Compare Professor Lidenbrock, Axel, and Hans in terms of intellect, bravery, determination, and humor. How does each of their personal skills come into play in times of crisis, and how do their shortcomings complicate the journey? Does Hans, the Icelandic guide of superhuman devotion, even have a weakness? If not, how does this affect your evaluation of him as a whole character?
3. Ingenuity and adaptability are vital to the explorers’ success. Trace the many instances of resourcefulness in the novel, considering the adventurers’ ingenious use of simple phenomena such as gravity, acoustics, and natural propulsion. How does this relate to David Brin’s assertion in the Introduction: “Destiny– readers learned–was something you might craft with your own clever hands.”
4. The long and often monotonous trek down to the earth’s core poses some plot challenges for Verne. With only three characters, one goal, and little change in scenery, how does Verne create suspense in order to sustain the reader’s interest?
5. Compare the competing characterizations of science in the novel: “When science has spoken, it is for us to hold our peace” versus “Science is eminently perfectible.” Discuss how Verne’s novel can be read as a tribute to scientific progress and the pluck of the explorer who contradicts accepted fact in search of greater truths.
6. Describe Axel’s sublime hallucination on the subterranean ocean and the “abyss attraction” which overtakes him earlier in his descent. Why is Axel particularly affected by the romantic conception of the sublime?
7. How is Gräuben a “necessary” character, not only in the beginning but throughout the novel? Evaluate Brin’s assertion in the Introduction that “science fictional women tend to be bolder than their eras, and science fictional men seem to like it that way.”
8. Describe the subterranean world that the journeyers discover. How does Verne account for the underground ocean and the blanched species of flora and fauna? Did Verne’s exposition of this primitive world meet your expectations? What surprises would have been in store in your own imaginative rendering of this peculiar environment?
9. How can Journey to the Centre of the Earth be interpreted as a psychological quest? Consider the roles of ambition, despair, and hope in the novel. Is the journey ultimately more important than the final outcome?
10. Jules Verne’s extraordinary tales continue to fascinate readers because they capture the thrill of the unknown. In his Introduction, David Brin writes, “Verne knew what his contemporaries did not. . . . For his tales to continue taking hardy adventurers into strange locales, he would have to redefine the very idea of wilderness, the whole notion of a frontier.” Why does the notion of the frontier continue to fascinate us? In this Internet age of globalization and routine space travel, what frontiers are left to science fiction? If not physical, might these remaining frontiers be mental and moral?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It got a littlie boring at the beginning but after a few pages u get sucked in! ?
Did this become a movie?
A wonderful book filled with adventure. And a nice version too with no typos that I could see. The other negative comments must be for a different version, not this one.
I first sat down with this book at the beginning of last summer simply because I had nothing to read and I quickly discovered this book was not meant for people with a small vocabulary. After finally finishing the book, I still do not think I know what all the words mean and frequently I had to stop and sound out the words, something I have not done in a long time. At some places it is also a very slow read, partly because of the difficult vocabulary, but also because it is extremly descriptive sometimes taking up one whole page (and the text is not very big) to describe the scene. Some of the paragraphs describe one subject so thoroughly that I constantly got the "I get the message, let's move on" feeling. At these places I got very bored with the book, especially in the first 35 pages. Once you start getting into it, though, the story becomes fantastic and engaging. I am a very big fan of adventure, and the book definatly satisfied my appetite. Because the book is super descriptive, what it is describing is amazing. I could really imagine the height of the cavern, the vast enormity of the sea and the power of the sea monsters. I could always feel the excitement or the rage that Professor Liedenbrock displayed upon his discoveries. And I always felt like I was being but into the shoes of Axel. Jules Verne did a very good job explaining his thoughts. Towards the end of the book, however, the book began to be not as engaging. I began to feel as though the author was rushing the ending which, by the way, was extremley short. It could have been because of their situation, but the book suddenly stopped describing the happenings of the journey. And at the very end I could tell that things were being cut short. Before the ending, Axel was narrating the things that happened in the story. In the ending, it seemed like he was summarizing the narration. But overall the book is really pretty good. It just has a really slow, boring beginning and a rushed, bad ending. The plotline is a very good one, and the order of things and how they were done in the story made sense to me. Whenever Axel and Professor Liedenbrock had a scientific conversation, they explained their hypotheses clearly and it had me wondering if a journey to the center of the Earth could really happen. The three main characters (Axel, Professor Liedenbrock, and Hans, their guide) in the story were so different in thier personalities that it was almost funny when they talked to each other, expressed their opinions and argued. So if you are one who has a diverse vocabulary and a love of lengthy descriptions, this is the book for you. But if you need constant action in a book, or you are just picking it up to pass the time, I would not recomend it.
This is a re-read. It is a very good adventure, one of his best, maintaining a real sense of threat and suffocating claustrophobia under the ground. There are some internal inconsistencies in dates and timings which would probably not get past a modern editor. Good stuff.
Good bedtime reading for the 7 year old daughter and me. And it takes me waaaaay back: I loved Verne when I was 8 and 9 and 10. The plot of this book is preposterous, but so what?
Though exciting in spots it is essentially a primer on 19th century theistic evolution.
Enjoyable, if a little too longVerne was famous as a populariser of science, and it's easy to see why. The intellectual content is well-judged, softened by entertainment ¿ it¿s the journey narrative that can be a little plodding, as can his exposition, with too much spare description and repetition. Verne is good at dialogue and characters though, with a timely injection of humour now and then.
1863 German professor Otto Lidenbrock uncovers ancient icelandic writings that suggest a passage to the center of the earth. professor takes his nephew and danish guide Hans on a trip to a world only one other person has seen. The story is inventive but boring in sections weighted down with science. I would have loved to seen more of the world he encounter as it ended a bit abruptly. I read it because it is a classic and i'm sure utterly suspenseful for it's time.
IT IS BEASTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This book is not a 'fast read!' It is very descriptive. Perhaps too descriptive. This book is not for teenagers and is a book I will never read again!
This novel or book was borin.I really didnt enjoy it.I need the sparknotes for this book and i cant find it because its so uncommon.