My Book Review: Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Author: Jules Verne

My Review and Thoughts:

Here is a magical adventure of imagination and exploring the wonders of the unknown fathoms of the deep sea. A great sea story of wild imaginative ordeals that any lover of action and pure science fiction will love. This is a science fiction mixed with the beauty of the possibilities of science fact, no matter how farfetched it is. I grew up with an amazing imagination in the concept of what lies underneath the deep dark waters. Captain Nemo and his amazing ship brought all the boyhood wonder of make believe to the reality of a young kid’s mind. Exploring this story again just mixes all those boyhood dreams of sea adventure right back to the tip of my imagination. Sadly, this is a story that's often over looked today, many don't read it and that's a shame because it captures that classic feel of what if reality. I miss the exploration of the unknown in the classic sense of writing.

The olden days of writing was able to grab that deep imagination and explore those dreams and nightmares and make them seem real, whereas today's writers tend to overstep that concept of make believe and create something that is so far off that you can't understand or adventure with.

No matter how many times you read this or how many times you think about it, the wonders of imagination is all over it. It's a timeless tale that young and old enjoy.

I think there is a deeper meaning at times behind the story of Captain Nemo. Most people just pass it by, but some pick up on the kind of anarchist attitude in a sense, or giving up man's laws and culture to hide oneself. Nemo wanted the sense of power to control or to kill the world of man and to create his own. He became antisocial by creating this great machine beast and walking away, only taking a select few people.

He wants to be left alone and explore an untouched art of earth or apart of earth not controlled by man or destroyed by man. The great exploration of a wonderful un-controlled in a sense atmosphere. Yet as the story moves forward into the great depths which hold its own rules and laws, its own masters of the deep such as the great beast of the fathoms.
Nemo is an interesting character walking away from his own name, his life and becoming a somewhat dictator of his own domain. You have the seeker Professor Pierre Aronnax who is your narrator of the events and story. You have the slave like or docile, I want to please type of servant Conseil, and then the brute lug or warrior type Ned Land. If you look at it each of these characters including Nemo represents the many wonderful ideas and types of persons in the world or in lifestyles and cultures.

The overall ordeal of the story by Verne is the descriptive nature. Jules Verne describes the Nautilus in detail from measurements to inner and outer rooms, the weight, usage of water, length and feel and sound and every detail is dotted with an I. Nothing is left out for the imagination, which gives the reader a firsthand knowledge and trip into the story. Placing them there and seeing it and feeling the adventure of Aronnax, Ned and Conseil which these descriptions take you inside this great machine and in the exploration and discovery etc. etc. etc.

I think the best way to describe this book is like a travel log or as if you are reading a Captions Log or even studying a map or text book, yet the story is the wonderful science fiction of the imagination and the sea discovery inside this vast machine, ran on electricity which you must remember at the time was fanciful. The approach to the unexplored seas at the time was unheard of and yet still today we have not mapped the great depths of this unknown world.

This was originally published in 1870 with no pictures, most modern books have been published with pictures. Now the original French title is not Sea, it's Seas which was to represent the Seven Seas. Now the concept 20,000 leagues which basically is six times the diameter of the Earth. In the book only mentions four leagues. The title itself is describing the distance traveled under the great waters and not how deep they go.

Now the interesting and fun note of the story is pick out the many used references or names in history or in literature. Take Nemo for example. The basic accepted truth of how Nemo got his name is the idea was taken from Homer's Odyssey that great and wonderful Greek poem which is one of the greatest epics ever written. The main character Odysseus in the story meets a beast Cyclops. The Cyclops who is named Polyphemus ask Odysseus his name. Odysseus states Utis or when translated No-man or also No-body.

Now this term when translated into the Latin tongue means Nemo which means the same 
No-man or No-body or written many times as no-name. The amazing moments throughout the book is the future predictions of a lot of items not yet invented or yet used in the sense described that would come to light in the future. Such as describing the great force that submarines could be in a war setting such as warships or future U-boats of the Germans. 
Even the concept of the breathing apparatus mentioned. Also, the powerful political statements made about Nemo in the original, such as the killings by the British and controlled like state of the certain population of India which led to the great Indian Rebellion of 1857 which started as a mutiny which better yet was India's First War of Independence against the control of India.

Nemo's character or past interweaves with this part of history. All this in the original translation was altered by the publisher and many of the ideas of Nemo's truth is revamped adding in the Polish January Uprising in 1863, no matter what true translation Nemo is a character of myth like status. The story hints the type description of Nemo being a champion or the outcast who rises above the bully.

The first English translation was in 1873 and sadly was massively screwed up in many ideas and descriptions and ordeals of Verne's original text. In 1966 a modern translation was done and made up for a lot of the mistakes in the 1873 version.

I enjoyed the Bantam Classics version which is still around today which has an opening by the wonderful great imaginative writer or word god Ray Bradbury. Bradbury puts Nemo up against one of my favorite books, Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. Bradbury compares the two which is a priceless ordeal. In 1998 a better translation published by Oxford University Press treating the book the way it should be treated as a literary masterpiece. This version talks about the many changes over the many translations. One of my favorite reality’s in the book is the somewhat depiction of a ray gun. Where a little ball or bullet of electrical energy is shot out, hits the creatures, electrocuting them.

"... the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little cases of glass. These glass cases are covered with a case of steel and weighted with a pellet of lead; they are real Leyden bottles, into which the electricity is forced to a very high tension. With the slightest shock they are discharged, and the animal, however strong it may be, falls dead."

"I was witness to one of the finest gun shots which ever made the nerves of a hunter thrill. A large bird of great breadth of wing, clearly visible, approached, hovering over us. Captain Nemo's companion shouldered his gun and fired, when it was only a few yards above the waves. The creature fell stunned, and the force of its fall brought it within the reach of dexterous hunter's grasp. It was an albatross of the finest kind."

On a side note just for fun the US Department of Homeland Security put into place in 2005 a contract to try to create a device called the Piezer which is stated by the military as: "an untethered electro-muscular disruption non-lethal stun weapon based on piezoelectric technology for civil law enforcement officers and the military".

Now the beauty of this book is you can look at it as just a fun adventure and science fiction fantasy story and you can look at it in a deeper concept.

However, you describe the story it is a written masterpiece of science fiction and fantasy. A story that has been read for many, many years. It’s a story that never dies out and still can grab the reader with the exploration of the readers mind, wanting to know what is out there, that great journey not yet taken, that lost reality that needs to be found for any childhood dreamer.

Would I Return to it Again?: This is my 3rd time reading it, so yes I would. It’s a priceless adventure and anyone with an imagination will absolutely love this book.

Would I Recommend: Absolutely. For Kid and adult. Both will enjoy this masterpiece of written word. A priceless example of adventure of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Four Final Words: Adventure. Imaginative. Great Exploration.

My Rating: 5 out of 5