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.
Say something about yourself!
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.
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.
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.
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!
A 32 year old with a painfully short attention span. Audio books brought me back to reading.
The way the story unfolded with beautiful language and vivid imagery. I sometimes have a hard time visualizing things when listening to books, but I had absolutely no problem with this book. At certain times (Atlantis particularly) I found myself breathless, even teary eyed.
Captain Nemo, naturally. He's a mysterious genius that you just find yourself wanting to know more about. My biggest emotional reactions throughout the book all were in relation to Captain Nemo.
I'm not sure I could sit for 15 hours. I'd listen to it in two sittings though.
I know that a lot of people have commented about the overly large amount of lists of flora and fauna throughout the story, and I have to admit those were the only time I found my mind wandering. I didn't really mind though, and it didn't take away from the story at all.
My only real critique is that at times Ned sounds very Scottish. It's not that it bothered me, it's just that any time he was referred to as "the Canadian" I chuckled. Maybe he was Scottish Canadian.
I kept being put in mind of the Count as Captain Nemo had an answer for everything. The underwater scenes were incredibly imaginative but some of the magic was lost due to 21st century reality. I liked it but I don't think I'll need to listen to it again any time soon. (My first Verne novel was Around the World in 80 Days, and I loved it!)
I'm a geek with people skills. Strange, I know, but true!
When I purchased this classic Jules Verne text, I was looking forward to exploring the oceans of the world beneath the waves with James Frain, an actor whose work I have enjoyed for more than a few years. Imagine my disappointment when listening to this masterpiece of writing, only to discover that Frain's performance was not the aural feast I had hoped for.
Frain apparently had immense difficulty pronouncing a significant number of words in the book. (e.g. Anemone.) At first I thought it was my imagination that a phrase here and there was overdubbed, but as the incidences persisted I realized that not only were there a great many words he had mispronounced, but that the corrections were read in by someone other than Frain!
Additionally, Frain's reading of the book is horribly uneven... The first part is rushed and flat, almost as if he were engaged in a reading race. Now, I will admit that I have become spoiled by Davina Porter's reading of the Outlander series, but the decision to read Ned Land with a Yorkshire accent??? He sounds like he's imitating Sean Bean! It's Ned *LAND* not Ned Stark! Ned Land's character is Canadian, not from Northern England. And that is the only character whose performance has a distinct voice. Conseil's voice is indistinguishable from that of Prof. Aronnax, the narrator in the piece, and Nemo's voice is likewise lackluster, sounding stiff and bland.
By the time we get to the second part of the book Frain finally starts reading at a more reasonable pace, and with more feeling. Unfortunately, his voice has also become hoarse, and the transition from headlong-and-flat to reasonable-and-with-feeling-but-scratchy is so abrupt as not to be believed.
All that said, it is still Jules Verne, and that may be the only saving grace for this audiobook. But given the shoddy performance Frain delivers in this work I will be hard-pressed to ever download a reading by him again.
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'.
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