Read: in an effort to expand my knowledge of the classics. Read through DailyLit.com (Wilder Publications, 312 pages, originally published 1869)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (finished 11/16/10)
Synopsis: Professor Pierre Aronnax, the narrator of the story, boards an American frigate commissioned to investigate a rash of attacks on international shipping by what is thought to be an amphibious monster. The supposed sea creature, which is actually the submarine Nautilus, sinks Aronnax’s vessel and imprisons him along with his devoted servant Conseil and Ned Land, a temperamental harpooner. The survivors meet Captain Nemo, an enigmatic misanthrope who leads them on a worldwide, yearlong underwater adventure.
Overall Impression: Huh, wha? Oh sorry. I was asleep there for a minute. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea really should be called Moby Dick With More Fish and Fewer Whales (but Some Whales). Or, Why Did You Read This When You’ve Already Read Moby Dick. Or Snore. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. It wasn’t the most boring thing I’ve ever read. But I really was expecting more action. It was like 10 pages of action crammed into 312 pages. There were many, many pages of descriptions about fish. For example:
“As to the molluscs, they consisted of some I had already observed—turritellas, olive porphyras, with regular lines intercrossed, with red spots standing out plainly against the flesh; odd pteroceras, like petrified scorpions; translucid hyaleas, argonauts, cuttle-fish (excellent eating), and certain species of calmars that naturalists of antiquity have classed amongst the flying-fish, and that serve principally for bait for cod-fishing.
I end here this catalogue, which is somewhat dry perhaps, but very exact…”
Somewhat dry? Uh, that’s a bit of an understatement, Mr. Verne.
So what did I like? I liked the struggle of the characters once they realized they were trapped onboard the Nautilus. I liked their trip to the South Pole and getting trapped under the ice (action!). I liked reading a book that has been referenced in so many other books and movies — the references make so much more sense when you read the original source material. But mostly I was bored by fish, fish, and more fish.
Pros: Good to read another classic that informs my other reading.
Cons: FISH. FISH. DEAD FISH. ALIVE FISH. COLORFUL FISH. UGLY FISH. FISH.
Other blogger reviews:
Padfoot and Prongs: “…we are left with 300 pages of complete crap, and about 70 pages of great story-telling.”
The Way I See It: “Truly a man ahead of his time, Jules Verne deserves his unofficial title as the father of science fiction as he teaches, imagines, admonishes and entertains generation after generation—but isn’t that what good sci fi is supposed to do?”
Other books I’ve read by Jules Verne: none