Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea

By Jules Verne
Read by Frederick Davidson

The Voyages Extraordinaires Series: Book 6

11.32 Hours 01/01/2006 unabridged
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Follow along on this fantastic voyage as Professor Arronax, Ned, and Beth set out to capture a terrifying sea monster—before it captures them. “The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten…For some time past, vessels had been met by ‘an enormous thing,’ a long object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely larger and more rapid in its movements than a whale.”—from the book When Professor Aronnax agrees to investigate a series of attacks by a mysterious sea monster, he begins an incredible underwater journey that leads him from Atlantis to the South Pole. Through unforeseen dangers, surprise encounters, and exotic settings, this epic adventure is a tour de force of imagination and narrative grandeur. Jules Verne was remarkably successful in foretelling the wonders science held for the future. This, his most famous novel, earned him the title of “Father of Science Fiction.”

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Summary

Summary

Follow along on this fantastic voyage as Professor Arronax, Ned, and Beth set out to capture a terrifying sea monster—before it captures them.

“The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten…For some time past, vessels had been met by ‘an enormous thing,’ a long object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely larger and more rapid in its movements than a whale.”—from the book

When Professor Aronnax agrees to investigate a series of attacks by a mysterious sea monster, he begins an incredible underwater journey that leads him from Atlantis to the South Pole. Through unforeseen dangers, surprise encounters, and exotic settings, this epic adventure is a tour de force of imagination and narrative grandeur.

Jules Verne was remarkably successful in foretelling the wonders science held for the future. This, his most famous novel, earned him the title of “Father of Science Fiction.”

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Jules Verne’s classic offers a perfect blend of suspense, adventure, and excitement that will entice even the most reluctant readers.” School Library Journal
“Thrilling and romantic…Full of Verne's gentle humor.” Daily Mail (London)
“Nemo in fact is one of the great characters of nineteenth-century literature. This novel isn’t just a travelogue…it’s the story of Nemo’s spiritual struggle.” William H. Stoddard
“The novel is noted for its exotic situations, the technological innovations it describes, and the tense interplay of the three captives and Nemo.” Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Reviews

Reviews

by Bertie Wooster 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Details

Let me start by saying that Natural History was never my long suit. I bought this book because A) it was on sale and B) I should have read as a child. I’ll add a C) Frederick Davidson, my favorite reader of all time, was narrating.

If Natural History was never my long suit, it was Verne’s. Consequently this is a book of lists: catalogues of fish, mammals, plants and coral—and endless descriptions of what they look like, how they move and what they live on. There are compendiums of fish that taste good, sea produce that make the best pickles, and what flora and fauna inhabit each area of each ocean the Nautilus frequents. We get lectures on how pearls are created, collected, sorted and sold, how extinct volcanoes and the Sargasso Sea got that way, and a long disquisition on a French mission of exploration sent forth by Louis XVI and the various fates of the various expeditions sent to determine its fate.

More poetically, we do get descriptions of a “milk sea”, arresting images of coral life and the light shed by gelatinous worms—whatever they are. But no, I’m trying to be nice. More often, we get the inside scoop on how whales can be distinguished by the number of their ribs. When not tedious the book is predictable: what undersea adventure would be complete without a visit to Atlantis? It must have fascinated readers in the 1870’s. For someone who was made to watch every Jacques Cousteau special it was less than captivating.

Some details are actually germane to our story, such as an admirable explanation of how many atmospheres are piled on top of a body with every 32 feet of descent into the deep, the average number of square inches of surface area on the human body and how much pressure is exerted on each of them. But most of it passed me by like the ropes and rigging in the novels of Patrick O’Brien. I could only have dealt with this mass of specialized information as audio. And even then it formed a barrier.

It reminded me of the Appletons, a family that figured prominently in my third grade reader. They went on vacations and wherever they went they learned things. Like how farmers in Florida grow oranges (they used “smudge pots” to keep off the frost). They never had a murder mystery to solve or a missing heir to find. They never broke down on a lonely road half a mile from an abandoned mansion. No, just smudge pots. All very educative no doubt, but, well…you know. Jules Verne made me feel like I was back in third grade.

Only once does Verne give our worthy narrator a chance to really show what he can do. It is a humorous interlude—our narrator assumes a less-than-genuine nonchalance toward sharks—but soon we are back to our lists, catalogues and compendia. And soon I am tuning out, only to realize that I need to rewind—the story, wedged in at odd spots, is moving forward again. Even Verne’s narrator is aware he’s tedious. “I end here this catalogue, which is somewhat dry, perhaps, but very exact...” he says, and my heart rises. Dry? Yes. Exact? You bet. Is this a mea culpa? No, he’s only “ending this catalogue” with another catalogue: “a series of bony fish...” which he then describes in excruciating detail.

The real problem is the lack of a story. Though the opening is promising (a mysterious creature that turns out to be a mysterious vessel captained by a mysterious man) we are denied the dramatic interest of an evil captain with nefarious designs. Though a lone wolf who prefers porpoises to people, he’s actually a benefactor to “oppressed people” and an environmentalist. That’s fine, but it doesn’t make for edge-of-your-chair storytelling.

The narrative suffers for other reasons. Shut up against their wills in a submarine, our narrator-naturalist and his faithful servant are in heaven. Immersed in marine biology (hence the endless lists), all other concerns—including respect for the listener’s patience—are abandoned. The description of a storm is far too scientific to be dramatic. The account of an attack by giant, angry mollusks fails to satisfy even our narrator’s friends; it doesn’t convey adequate emotion.

Only Ned Land, a rough-hewn Canadian harpooner, is a figure with whom we can really sympathize. He wants out, the sooner the better. At times the listener feels like the crew of the Nautilus when it is trapped under an iceberg and running out of breathable air. (And, to be fair, that whole episode does grip.)

Then, suddenly, in the final few chapters, we discover that the captain really is evil. Or at least he’s exacting a terrible vengeance. He becomes a “perfect archangel of hatred”, uttering the kind of megalomaniacal claims (“I am the judge”; “Don’t judge me”) we expect from the twisted geniuses that populate good science fiction. But we never learn on whom his vengeance is vented, let alone why (it has something to do with the loss of Captain Nemo’s family).
by Jackie 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

A little tedious

I had forgotten about the way the author rattles out the genus and species of long lists of animals, and gives detailed "scientific" explainations for every occurance. I think it's easier to breeze past these passages in print. Even so, I'm glad I listened all the way through. It's an amazing story.

Author

Author Bio: Jules Verne

Jules Verne (1828–1905) is considered by many the father of science fiction. Born in Nantes, France, he studied law but turned to writing opera libretti until the 1863 publication of Five Weeks in a Balloon, the first of his Extraordinary Voyages series. Its success encouraged him to produce a number of classic and prophetic science fiction novels, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. His stories foresaw many scientific and technological developments, including the submarine, television, and space travel.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Classics
Runtime: 11.32
Audience: Adult
Language: English