Gawd dim it
, bollocks, ShazBot
and shit snacks...I am so, SO bummed
that I didn’t experience Jules Verne’s
novels for the first time as a young man, rather than as an aging manolescent
. Reading them now, as a 41 year old, I still find myself carried away in the rollickingness
of his well crafted adventures, but part of me knows deep down in my nethers
that there’s a warm, gooey nostalgia that will always be missing. This giant load of empty in my core, if filled, would likely have elevated this from a really good read to a cozy memory-rewind of simpler, happier times. *coughs bitterness from aching heart.*Alas
, my loving parents were unintentionally guilty of literary child neglect. Thus, while I really enjoyed all those afternoons watching Gilligan’s Island
, I think my time would have been better utilized immersing myself in the classics of Wells, Verne, Doyle and Poe.
So, yes, it hurts...
...and I’m a little disappointed...
...maybe even a skosh angry...
weeping uncontrollably over
** misspent reading years. I must just remember to ensure that I don’t make the same error with my own children. So far, so good.
**Why anyone would shed tears over spilled bovine teat juice is beyond me
. PLOT SUMMARY:
One of the most popular and beloved works within Verne’s 54 volume Les Voyages Extraordinaires
, Journey to the Center of the Earth tells of the travels of Professor Lidenbrock, an accomplished and incredibly impatient, mineralogist, and his quiet, reserved nephew Axel.
While perusing an ancient manuscript, Lidenbrock discovers a mysterious message encrypted in runic script. After cracking the code, with unexpected help from young Axel, the professor discovers that the message describes how to locate a secret passage leading to, uh, take a wild guess. The pair immediately scamper off to Iceland where, with the help of hunter/guide named Hans Bjelke, they discover the hidden entrance and embark on a highly perilous, but even more highly enjoyable, adventure. THOUGHTS:
Verne was a consummate story-teller who never wrote down to his audience or cut corners with his material. One of the most enjoyable aspects for me about reading his stories is the scientific thoughtfulness that Verne poured into his novels. True, much of his science is badly dated and many of his theories, including the central premise of this story, have long since been disproved and relegated to nonsenseville
However, when written, Verne was conscientious in his attempt to be as accurate as possible and employed a rigor to his plot elements and story details that few can match. This diligence was the result of Verne’s desire to use his novels to use his novels as teaching tools as well as entertainment. This is a major bonus for the reader because Verne’s devotion to authenticity actually enhances the sense of wonder by creating an air of plausibility that allows the suspension of disbelief to occur unconsciously and, thus, unnoticed.
What I’m bushing around the beat about is that I really, really enjoyed this. I’m couldn't give it the full 5 stars because I thought the initial portion of the novel (i.e., the part before the entrance to the hidden passage) took a bit too long to develop and the time spent in the most interesting segment of the journey (i.e., the [censored to avoid spoilerage]
was too fleeting. Still, there is genuine wonder here and excellently drawn characters who display remarkable depth for this kind of story. Add to that an ending that is perfectly suited for the tale and you have a classic, well done adventure yarn that should be read.
Oh, a final gripe in the interest of full disclosure. The ending’s awesomeness was dampened a tad for me by the compass “mystery” which I thought was overindulged by the Jules. Two days after finishing this, I am still mildly annoyed by that snippet of the tale so I thought I would be remiss if I failed to mention it.
However, minor nits and compass annoyance aside, this was a great experience. Definitely one I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
P.S. I need to add a note to the doofus-brained asshats who put together the 1871 English translation published by Griffith and Farran. Dear Sirs, You SUCK!!! Worse, this version happens to be the one that the geniuses at Easton Press decided, in their unimaginable stupidity, to use in their collection of science fiction classic. The mind boggles. This literary assassination abridged and largely rewrote the story, even changing the main character’s name from Professor Lidenbrock to Hardwigg.
Thank Odin and Cthulhu, the unabridged audiobook I listened to was the original, quality translation. This actually gave me the ability to compare the to volumes. There is no comparison. If you are reading a version where the professor’s name is Hardwigg...toss it in the trash and find an original translation. As for the creators of the 1871 abomination, I only wish you could find yourself on the receiving end of justice...