An American frigate, tracking down a ship-sinking monster, faces not a living creature but an incredible invention - a fantastic submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo.
Suddenly a devastating explosion leaves just three survivors, who find themselves prisoners inside Nemo's death ship on an underwater odyssey around the world from the pearl-laden waters of Ceylon to the icy dangers of the South Pole... as Captain Nemo, one of the greatest villians ever created, takes his revenge on all society.
More than a marvelously thrilling drama, this classic novel, written in 1870, foretells with uncanny accuracy the inventions and advanced technology of the twentieth century and has become a literary stepping-stone for generations of science fiction writers.
Public Domain (P)2011 Listening Library
James Frain gives a wonderful reading of Verne's masterpiece. He captures Aronnax's sense of wonder, Ned Land's anger, Nemo's passionate devotion to the sea. It's Verne with a slight touch of Yorkshire: Frain's Ned Land sounds more like Sean Bean than Kirk Douglas. No complaints here, though: his voice is rich, steady, and crystal clear.
Even more reason for celebration is the fact that Listening Library - which produced Jim Dale's excellent "Around the World in 80 Days" a few years ago - chose to use the translation by Anthony Bonner. This was first published by Bantam in 1962 and was reissued with some corrections in 2003. This is one of the most complete versions of Verne's novel available in English and is a remarkably fluent translation. (There are more recent translations that are more meticulously accurate - for instance, those by William Butcher, F.P. Walter, and Walter James Miller - but Bonner did a bang-up job, one of the first to deliver Verne's whole novel rather than a hacked-up abridgement, and it's still one of my favorites.)
(There is only one other audio version of this book that is even remotely complete, the Recorded Books production read by Norman Dietz. I enjoy Dietz, but the anonymous translation used there, even though it IS the whole novel, is an awkward one with an unfortunate tendency toward literalism.)
If you're a Verne fan, you HAVE to get this. If you've listened to one of the other audio versions of this novel and came away unimpressed, give it another try with this one. I can practically guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.
First published in 1869 by French author Jules Verne (whom received writing advice from both Hugo and Dumas). Some scholars say that Jules Verne fathered science fiction, others say he introduced steampunk; many people's only knowledge of Jules Verne comes from the Disney movie adaptations of Verne's novels. Which may not be a bad thing, (they made the jump to screen wonderfully...gosh, didn't we love the big crabs and squids, the hot-air balloons, the volcanoes, and the ocean and sun in the middle of the earth?) but it is hardly the same thing as experiencing the true tone of his books; dated, but still sparkling with imagination that is entertaining reading.
Verne intended this book to be more science-that-was-fiction -- than Disney's fiction-that-tried-to-be-science. Because the screenwriters thought the book had no real plot, they took only the big events from the book, and created the mad scientist version of a vengeful and political Nemo, and fit Verne's work nicely into the political framework of 1954 -- that's primetime Cold War years. 20,000 Leagues-the book, has the cannibals, the burial at sea, and the big squid, but a lot more scienctific theories, psychology of relationships, and the examination of the social changes of Verne's time. Most notably different was Nemo himself; less an angry *rebel without a cause* and more a genius with a deep respect for nature that caused him great angst concerning his relationship with man. There is a lot of cataloging, as mentioned by reviewers: species, genus, longitudes and latitudes, artwork and decor on board. The plot is non-linear other than beginning when the shipwrecked survivor's are picked up and continuing until the end of the journey--20,000 leagues later. The voyage and the events serve more to reveal the characters', especially Nemo's, Professor Arronax's, and the whale hunter Ned Land's, philosophies (not so much man-servant's Conseil). A great cross-section of social heirarchy wouldn't you say? (Around during both Freud and Jung's time, I'd have loved to read their reviews on Captain Nemo!)
These factors, and any comparison to the movie, might make this choice a little tiring for some that want more Buena Vista-type action and plot. It's an interesting journey to be sure, and even with such a different focus, it's still hard to get Disney's depiction out of your mind as you listen. James Frain does a good job narrating and playing each character, and is able to keep the story going even through the lists of mollusks and menus. Another recording I sampled was flatly read and not as engaging. A nice trip back to the future.
A classic story of a mad, mysterious recluse on an unimaginably futuristic (for the time) submarine. I enjoyed the story a lot, but beware, a lot of the time in the book lists flora and fauna observed by the characters on their journey... which can get very, very tedious. Other than that, great book, and an especially great reading.
Some classic books are enjoyable just because they are brilliantly written and tell a fascinating story. Some are interesting because they tell us as much about the time in which they were written as they do about themselves. This is in the second category.
I love a good science fiction work. But I'm beginning to suspect that Verne is not my style. There are very large sections of this book which become effectively a shopping list of the names of species. This is OK when it is a name or two but when you wake up and realise that you have been listening to a list of different fish species for the last few minutes it gets a bit frustrating. And then when it carries on for what must translate into several pages of text it just gets annoying. Now when the book was published this probably made great reading because much of the natural world was just being codified. However, once you've seen a David attenborough documentary or two it becomes necessary to grit your teeth and bear up to get through it. There are also many passages that consist primarily of the mathematical formulae necessary to build a submarine which, again, might show the author as being a clever man but kind of limit his appeal as a narrative story teller.
But that is in fact what makes the work interesting. Not because it IS interesting but because it WAS interesting. It gives some idea of the thirst and desire that the late 19th Century had for all this stuff. It shows that in the absence of the National Geographic Channel there was a mass market that wanted to find out how stuff works and what they could do with it. So this book is really a cross between the Great Exhibition and The Public Aquarium at London Zoo. Its a museum piece. It should be read not because its a great story (its OK but no better) or because its great writing (always difficult to judge in a traslation) but because its a barometer of its time and probably a pretty good one at that.
The narration is good. Clear and with no excessive characteristion. There is an introduction by Ray Bradbury which contrasts this work with Moby Dick and draws comparisons. Not sure that it added much for me but it might be a bonus if you have to write an exam paper anytime.
Basically if your interestedin the history of science or literature you should read this. If not, then maybe not.
I've heard so often how Jules Verne's writing inspired so many people to go into science and engineering and I now know why I've always hated science and engineering.
I found this book to be so tedious that I couldn't finish listening to it. Every single time a new discovery is made he goes on for pages describing the family, genus, sub-genus, related genus, genus that have no relation but are similarly spelled and so on and so on and so on. Ugh!
The characters are so two dimensional as to almost make one think that Verne must have written it like that was on purpose. Nemo never reacts any other way than cold, distant and unfazed.
The best word to describe this book is 'monotonous'.
This book is tedious in its superfluous lists of marine life which lend little to the story. The last few chapters should have happened much quicker and on the whole the book doesn't say much about anything that you'll walk away from this book with. Well read though. My general advice - don't waste your time even though this is a classic. There are many more classics with better writing and something to say.
Yes, absolutely. The adventure you embark on takes you through some lovely imagery. The scientific insights are intriguing. It is so easy to get lost in this world of wonder. Great listening.
James Frain's performance goes a long way to making the audible book a success.
Jules Verne's classic contains every essential ingredient for an enjoyable sci-fi trot around the globe but it is really the narrator, James Frain, that makes this version highly recommendable!
There's no way I'll retain all the nautical references in this book. I found myself tuning out during the categorizing of all the ocean life. The story was very interesting in spite of all that.
It was a solid book but it was written for people back in the times the classification of various marine fauna was entertainment. There was entire sections that was classifying various marine wildlife in Genus, Classic, Sub-Class, Family, etc. Other than that the book was great.
"Very Long Intro by Ray Bradbury"
If you are looking to skip this intro as its full of spoilers and incredibly long and flowery and full of religious guff about america as he children of god; it ends at 31.50. Yes, its a very very long intro.
"The characters make up for all the marine biology"
Middle, the constant and at times very repetitive super detailed description of the all the marine life they encounter really slows the book down.
Nemo is a true original but I think Ned Land because of his rebellious spirit and overall lovable demeanor
If you are into detailed descriptions of fish, algae, rocks, molluscs and other aquatic life this is something you will enjoy a lot. If you are into steam-punk this is a great book.
I think this is the first book that I would like to have a paper copy of, since if I could skip at least parts of the descriptions of the marine life I would have given it a 5/5.
Overall a great book, fantastic characters and the excitement of Aronnax keeps the flow up.
"Better as a paper book so you can skip the fish"
It's a good book, beautifully read, but such a huge amount of it is detailed descriptions of sea life and their categorizations, and naming every captain who ever visited every island in the area as well as it's longitude & latitude & the distance & speed to get there, all of which you could skip if you were reading it yourself, but which becomes interminable when read to you. Even when read well
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