What strikes one immediately at the beginning of this story is its unexpected wit and sly satire. Classics tend to put people off as stodgy and dry. However, Tim Curry brings out a playfulness in Jules Verne's work that's too often missed. By the first few chapters, the audience should be quite enthralled with this band of travelers and their journey to come.
Big screen versions of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" have often been made, from the 1959 version with James Mason and Pat Boone to the recent 3D Brendan Fraser action film. So most people may, understandably, be confused by the novel’s original storyline. However, when you hear this performance you realize that Verne was a masterful and economic storyteller. He uses only two main speaking characters; Professor Lindenbrock and his nephew Alex, accompanied by their strong yet silent Icelandic guide. Their voyage is as much about the personal journey of the Professor and Alex as the actual trek through the Earth, and the story is often told through the inner thoughts of these main characters.
An exceptional showcase of Verne's words paired with Curry's narration is the chapter describing the raft trip across the expansive underground sea. There's a hint that something may be lurking in the waters and Alex starts to imagine prehistoric teeth and claws on nightmarish beasts. Curry's narration over this long building scene will make the hair rise on the back of your neck. You get so caught up in the imagined horror that when the monsters finally show up, they seem to pale in comparison to what Verne and Curry have created through the power of suggestion.
Curry unabashedly throws himself into the minor players while the main characters are superbly well studied and thoughtfully portrayed by this talented and seasoned actor. Alex is played as a bit of a Victorian slacker and Lindenbrock is an archetypical absent-minded professor. Both men do change dramatically through their adventures though Alex finding a genuine intellectual curiosity while Professor Lindenbrock gains a new appreciation of just what it takes to get into the history books. Cleo Creech
Journey to the Center of the Earth is one of literature’s earliest works of science fiction. It vividly animates a fantastical subterranean world as an intrepid crew, led by the eccentric Otto Lidenbrock, traverses the planet’s core and its various bizarre obstacles: giant mushrooms and insects, a herd of mastodons, prehistoric humans, a treacherous pit of magma, and more.
Tim Curry, narrator of the customer favorite A Christmas Carol, returns for an encore performance that delivers a range of distinct character voices and captures the energy and enthusiasm of a time when scientific exploration was a brand new adventure.
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With a classic like this one it all comes down to the narrator.
Tim Curry reads it as if Jules Verne is looking over his shoulder. His voice seems very appropriate to the book and its time period.
He is not particularly good at changing his tone for different characters and his female impersonations are far from flattering.
But in an odd way he seems to be perfect for a Jules Verne story.
Its absolutely worth getting.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Listening to Tim Curry read Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth was a surprisingly entertaining experience. I had expected the novel to be a weak story overwhelmed by a series of dry scientific facts and pseudo-facts, but it was lively and funny and often exciting and awe-inducing. The first-person narrator Axel is refreshingly reluctant, cowardly, weak, and despairing, especially when compared to his fiery, impetuous, glory-seeking, knowledge-hunting, unquenchable middle-aged uncle Professor Otto Lidenbrock and their taciturn do-everything guide Hans. Verne vividly depicts their descent down the volcano tube and exploration of the subterranean world deep inside the earth. Sure, the ???science??? is crazy, and it takes three and a half hours for them to even get down there, but Verne's enthusiasm for it all and the sense of the vast scale of time that has passed on our earth and the joy of discovery and the interplay between Axel and his uncle all glow brightly throughout. And Tim Curry multiplies the enjoyment. I'm still hearing in my mind his Professor Lidenbrock remonstrating with Axel to buck up or his Axel futilely trying to get "Uncle" not to do something reckless and chuckling to myself.
Some reviewers have said that the book is dull or that there isn't enough action, but I think that 1) the avoidance of what today would be a non-stop page-turning never-ending action sequence novel is refreshing and that 2) Verne's depiction of the relationship between Axel and his uncle and his enthusiasm for the natural world and Curry's reading of it all is entertaining, even when Axel or his uncle are listing different kinds of minerals or different eras in the earth's geologic history.
I would give four stars to Verne's novel and five to Curry's reading.
Why would you want to listen to this book? You may wonder if the story is too old school, not modern enough, or just one of those reads your teacher made you endure in school so she can say she taught you the classics.
Forget all of that and just buy the book! The story is a good story, one you can share with your kids- there is no cursing, no sex scenes, just a romping adventure that takes you from the entrance of a volcano to the center of the earth and back again.
Tim Curry gives the story life, gives the characters personality and makes this a story you will revisit through the years. His voice makes this a movie in your imagination
Take an evening with the kids, turn the lights down low in their room, plug in your ipod or MP3, turn up the speakers and start a tradition with your children they will never forget.
I wish I could say this classic is as thrilling as it was when first published, but some books remain cultural milestones for their historical importance, even though more recent, imaginative, and better successors have come along, and this is true of most of Jules Verne's works, I think. He is the grandfather of "hard science fiction," and his books were notable for their rigorous attention to the laws of physics as they were understood at the time. Everything about Journey to the Centre of the Earth has the ring of plausibility about it (backed up by a great detail of technical explanation of instruments and measurements and physical science), even though we now know the "internal fire" debate is settled.
"Such was the succession of phenomena which produced Iceland, all arising from the action of internal fire; and to suppose that the mass within did not still exist in a state of liquid incandescence was absurd; and nothing could surpass the absurdity of fancying that it was possible to reach the earth's centre."
The plot, in brief: Otto Liedenbrock, German Professor of Mineralogy, discovers a Runic code in an ancient Icelandic text which, when deciphered, indicates that a 12th century Icelandic traveler named Arne Saknussemm found a passage to the center of the Earth down a volcano. (Journey to the Centre of the Earth is notable also for featuring one of the earliest use of cryptography in fiction, as several chapters are spent on the deciphering of this code.) Liedenbrock immediately resolves to follow the footsteps of Saknussemm, and drags along his nephew, Axel, the narrator, and eventually a taciturn Icelandic guide named Hans.
This is a great book for kids who are still fascinated by anything to do with secret codes, volcanoes, prehistoric creatures, and fantastic journeys and haven't been jaded by exposure to countless books and movies based on such concepts. Yes, Jules Verne was the granddaddy of them all. However, this novel is basically a travel epic, written at a time when the journey to Iceland alone would have been considered quite daring and exciting. Professor Liedenbrock and his nephew, Axel, encounter darkness, lava, near-starvation and dehydration, an underground ocean, giant mushrooms, the remains of prehistoric fauna, and a battle between an ichthyosaurus and a plesiosaurus. But the whole book is just an account of their journey, with the reader expected to marvel at these fantastic sights.
It was interesting to me more for its historical context and to compare with imitators that have followed in the "fantastic voyage" genre than for the story itself. Three men travel to the center of the Earth, see a few interesting things, and come back, the end. Jules Verne's prose (as translated into English) conveys the breathless wonder of the characters, as well as their trials when they find themselves without food or water deep underground, but it's quite an arid narrative for all its meticulous details. I find Jules Verne to be readable but rather unexciting, as he seems to feel no emotion about his tale and doesn't inspire the reader to feel any.
A book to be read for the sake of having read it, but I suspect few modern adult readers will really find it thrilling or memorable.
Tim Curry does a great job narrating, though, and invests the story with more excitement than did Verne's prose alone.
I'm only part way into the book, but I like it a lot. Tim Curry is a hoot to listen to and adds a lot to the character.
Two geologists and their assistant try to reach the centre of the earth. Remember the old kids' cartoon? - well, nothing at all like that! But it's a classic tale of the days of Victorian gentleman scientists, read in a rich plummy baritone by Tim Curry.
I love a funny story that doesn't take itself too seriously, but I can get caught up in a good mystery or a romance too. And of course I feel obligated to pay my respects to the classics, no matter how sleepy some of them make me.
Tim Curry is the BEST narrator I've listened to! I literally buy books just because he narrated them. The story is great! It's a scientist's wet dream and an insane romp through the bowels of the earth.
I liked Professor Lidenbrock best. He's insane, but I like that, and he's unshakably optimistic even in the face of almost certain death. His impatience, his child-like enthusiasm, and his raw energy make him into the kind of ridiculous old person I want to be when I get older.
I think I related more to Axel's logic and that he's the voice of reason, and I loved Hans' ability to completely ignore his peril, but Lidenbrock was undoubtedly my favorite.
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what makes him a fantastic author. I would have to say that Tim Curry is simply made of awesome and everything he reads becomes 30x more interesting than it would be in print.
I work. I ski. I play. I write. I have a family. I garden. I coach. I volunteer. I sketch. I run. I read.
Listening to this book was not a waste of time. It's considered a classic and I just listened to Around the World in 80 Days again. I don't think I'll listen to this one again though.
I think it's a mediocre ending. The story wraps up abruptly.
I have not. I enjoyed his performance though.
I did see an old version of it.
I read and re-read this book as a child until (and after) the cover fell off my paperback copy. I used this audiobook version to introduce it to my own son, who was also captivated by the story.
Someday I will go to Iceland and look upon the icy volcanic landscape that has existed in my imagination since I was a kid.
Tim does a wonderful job portraying this epic story.
Other science fiction classics from the time period.
A wonderful performance.
I was really looking forward to listening to this as it has been one of my most favorite stories from childhood, how disappointed I was. The narrator did not hold my attention, I tuned out that many times that in the end I gave up. What happened to the suspense, the story, the excitement .... gone ! There was too much technical detail which did not add but detracted from my enjoyment. And I have to say that the narrator did nothing to save it. In my opinion a wrong choice of narrator. I think an abridged version would be better
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