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Journey to the Center of the Earth
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2002
Maybe it was the over the top caricatures of Prof. Hardwigg, his "sensitive" nephew and the stoic Hans, but I did not enjoy "Journey to the Center of the Earth" nearly as much as "20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea". I can't say the characters were any more one-dimensional, but I was put off by the narration and not as involved with the main characters.
It still is a fun journey and the strength of Verne's writing is in the copious details he puts into his story. The geography/geology in his description is often infinitely more enjoyable than his characters. I recommnend "20,000 Leagues" first, but if you yearn for more of those 19th century adventure tales, this is not a bad follow up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2002
Reading this book is an amazing adventure, as evidenced by a century of avid readers. I picked it up on a lark and decided to read the first five or ten pages to see if it was my type. It was easy to read, enjoy and visualize, and I quickly finished it.
The story revolves around a young man and his uncle, who is a scientist. They discover a route to the center of the earth (hence the title), and the novel is about their journey. Once you get 100 pages into this book, you aren't able to stop. The things they find boggle the mind, but seem so real.
100 years from now, people will still be enjoying Jules Verne, because he captures the imagination of the young explorer.
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Jules Verne had a knack for coming up with adventure stories that were fascinating enough to endure against the revelations of science and the passage of time. Some comments by the narrator read almost like caveats to assuage the doubter who might know better than to believe what is discovered on this unusual trek to the centre of the earth. A belief in central heat, for example, is asserted by the narrator in order to gain solidarity with the reader. The reader is then encouraged to be satisfied that “certain circumstances not yet sufficiently understood may tend to modify here and there the action of natural phenomena” (p. 187.) The prohibitive fact of central heat is not just mitigated by an appeal to the possibility of modified phenomena, but by the fact in the fiction that says the trekkers did not descend to earth’s actual centre (pp. 129, 186.) Stopping short of the centre is necessary, not only to avoid the science of central heat, but because the time and angle necessary for the trip make it impossible for men on foot to go there (p. 107.)

All of this hedging to ‘cover one’s tracks’ colors the story with at least a tinge of probability. This toilsome project, though, of welding links to form a chain that would take us, without doubt, down to earth’s virtual centre, is not kept up with care enough to satisfy. There are nagging inconsistencies. The tiny raft made by Hans for crossing over the underground sea seems to take on the qualities of a large, sturdy ship as she sails for a week and a half, or five hundred leagues (1800 miles) or more, through unimaginable trials and perils, which include monsters beneath and all around, and an electric storm above containing ‘great bales of cotton’ and ‘a vast reservoir of fearsome windy gusts’ (p. 145.) Verne seems to inject some astonishment of his own in order to come alongside and sympathize with our disbelief. “Who would dream of undertaking a voyage of five hundred leagues on a heap of rotten planks, with a ragged blanket for a sail, a stick for a mast and fierce winds in our teeth?” (p. 153.) What breaks the story beyond repair (the weakest link in the chain) is the part about the volcanic eruption that shoots the travelers, not only out from the bowels of the earth, but safely back upon land. This fiery volcano, moreover, just happens to shoot them out by somehow first coming up under the raft they are on. Then it pushes this raft up and out in such a neat way that it fits nicely between the walls of the tunnel as they travel upward! Not only is no one mortally burned in the explosive ejection, but as harrowing as this journey back up is, Axel, the main character, is able to feel the wall on the way! (p. 176.) That they are jutted upward in a ‘lateral gallery’ rather than by the main shaft (p. 180) is just not enough balm to heal the injury that the story suffers by this safe expulsion of three men from the centre of the earth.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth, as implausible as it is, has a good stock of truth mixed in with its faults and fancy. Snaeffel is an actual mountain in Iceland, though the eruption of 1219 seems fabricated to provoke wonder. Saturn was indeed discovered by Galileo, but the part about him concealing the discovery might be invented to supply a parallel to the disguising of the route by Saknussemm. There is no gravity at earth’s centre, but it is improbable that the acoustics there could be so sharp as to impart hearing to the deaf. Sir Humphrey Davy is an historical figure, though Saknussemm is probably invented. Often Jules Verne is meticulous in his precision about a thing, as if to anticipate our looking into it. There indeed is a bird called the eider, for example, whose self-plucked down is robbed by the northern trader for its commercial value. It is not easy to determine what anecdotes that are used from history are embellished. I did not feel it necessary to resolve the question on every point. That could be an interesting subject for someone’s thesis, I suppose. The point is that the interweaving of fact and fiction lends believability to the far-fetched fantasy, and that nevertheless all is ruined by that convenient exit through the mouth of a burning volcano. We can suspend our disbelief when the implausible details are of the same weakness one with another. But the weak chain is broken by this one link that is more brittle than the rest. There is a precedent for water under the earth; therefore we can stretch that into a sea. There is a precedent for things that glow in the dark; therefore we can stretch that into natural light to illuminate a deep cavity. But what person can survive expulsion from a volcano? Realism steps into surrealism at this point. This is the problem. Harmony is broken. Genres crash.

The reference that helps most to convince us to go along for the incredulous ride to the centre of Verne’s earth is the one about Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, which goes to a great depth (we won’t begrudge Verne for stretching this to 2500 feet) and contains an ‘unfathomable lake’ (p. 124.) Most likely this natural marvel is what fueled his imagination for the creation of his fantastic idea. The American wonder is even more remarkable than what Axel relates. It is perhaps as much as 1500 feet deep and for certain over 365 miles long, the world’s longest known cave.

I’m not for quitting a book because the pieces of science fiction that are made up are not all on the same level of improbability. But it makes me hesitate to read more from the same author, even if the present idea is intriguing and the style is less than flat.

The stylistic ingenuity is infrequent, but more than competent. Some characteristic must be made memorable to us for an author’s character to become authentic in our mind. The irascible nature of the professor is brought to life by comparing him to an inanimate object: “He was a well of scientific knowledge, but the pulley rather creaked when you wanted to draw anything out” (p. 10.) The timid nature of the nephew is manifested by a surprising reference to his opposite: “The soul of the Professor had passed into me. The spirit of discovery wholly possessed me” (p. 167.) The indomitable nature of Hans, the loyal Icelander, is conjured up by comparing him to a creature that never was (though Verne probably believed he existed): “His long hair blown by the storm…each lock of loose flowing hair is tipped with little luminous radiations…puts me in mind of pre-Adamite man” (p. 146.)

This piece of science fiction uses up a mixture of creationist and evolutionary principles (pp. 90, 91, 134.) Frederick Morris Warren (A History of the Novel Previous to the Seventeenth Century, 1895) would perhaps call it Pythagorean (p. 38.) There is little to commend the fantasy to the Christian (p. 112, 118.) And the name of God is let out in exclamatory fashion at least once (p. 18.)
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 1, 2013
I grew up on the James Mason movie, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959), so it was quite a shocker to read the book. You could imagine to my dismay the absents of quite a few characters and the center of the story is Germany not Scotland.

Now for avid readers you could care less about old movies, I can truthfully say that this is one of Jules Verne's best stories and well told.

What you will find more interesting and fun about this tale is the characters and their interaction. One of my favorite parts is when Harry who did not want to go to the center of the earth with his uncle, Professor Hardwigg; he turned to his affianced, Gretchen, and was planning on her to stop him. Her answer is shockingly disappointing to him.

"While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert, Henry, that as long as man's heart beats, as long as man's flesh quivers, I do not allow that being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair"

Be prepared as the bulk of the book is really a geological journey back through time and forward again painfully spelled out by Harry whom is the first person narrator.

The Kindle version does not have actual picture of the runes in chapter 1. Moreover, a tad off on pronunciations. Other than that, it is more than worth obtaining along with a hard copy for your library.

Journey to the Center of the Earth
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon October 11, 2013
I grew up on the James Mason movie, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1959), so it was quite a shocker to read the book. You could imagine to my dismay the absents of quite a few characters and the center of the story is Germany not Scotland.

Now for avid readers you could care less about old movies, I can truthfully say that this is one of Jules Verne's best stories and well told.

What you will find more interesting and fun about this tale is the characters and their interaction. One of my favorite parts is when Harry who did not want to go to the center of the earth with his uncle, Professor Hardwigg; he turned to his affianced, Gretchen, and was planning on her to stop him. Her answer is shockingly disappointing to him.

"While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert, Henry, that as long as man's heart beats, as long as man's flesh quivers, I do not allow that being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair"

Be prepared as the bulk of the book is really a geological journey back through time and forward again painfully spelled out by Harry whom is the first person narrator.

The Kindle version does not have actual picture of the runes in chapter 1. Moreover, a tad off on pronunciations. Other than that, it is more than worth obtaining along with a hard copy for your library.

Journey to the Center of the Earth
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 12, 2011
Jules Verne is one of the fathers of modern science fiction and fantasy. Which is why I wanted to give the story a try. If you are the type of person who shy's away from classic literature due to it's heavy subject matter or outdated stories and concepts. I can assure you that you have no fear of that with Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Forget for a moment that we are in the era of space travel for rich space tourists, satellites and space stations circling the earth. Think to when this book was written, no cars, no planes, people traveled by steam engine and sailing ship. It's the context of Jules Verne's real world of the 1800's that makes this story all the more impressive.

I found the first ten pages difficult to get into because of the language structure. People spoke and wrote differently over 120 years ago however, as I was drawn into the story I no longer took much notice of this.

Journey to the Center of the Earth has a wonderful innocence about it. The gentil love affair between Axel and his betrothed, the stoic strengh and determination of the guide and the wonderment exhibited when they make their underground discoveries.

I can say that you will not be dissapointed by this book. I think it would also be great for young readers (12-13). It has drama, excitement and romance all without being too long. Well worth my $4.00
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on April 21, 2003
As an avid reader of Jules Verne, I enjoyed reading this book very much. I am not much for reading alot of books, but when I do read he is the authur that I choose. I thought that Journey to the Center of the Earth like all of his books was very well writen and very well developed.
I especially like these types of books because, they seem that they could actualy be real and certain places mentioned could actually exist. The book starts off with a young boy telling the story. His name is Harry and he lives in Hanburg with his uncle. His uncle's name is Professor Hardwigg. He is a professor of many different sciences like philosophy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and many other sciences. In the beginning of the book the Professor makes a discovery. His discovery is a small piece of paper that is called a Runic manuscript. The hard part was trying to figure out what langauge the paper was writen in, but once it was deciphered it appeared to have directions that lead to the center of the earth. So professor Hardwigg being the adventurer that he was, was ready to set off for Ireland, which is were the paper said to go first. Harry being only 13 had no choice in the matter but to go. They took a ten day trip on a boat to Ireland and when they got there, they were supposed to go to base of a mountain where there was a cave that they would enter that would lead them to the center of the earth. The cave seemed to go down and down forever where it lead them to the very depths of the earth. When they reached the center of the earth they came across a blue sky and an ocean. They built a raft to go across it and in the middle of crossing they ecountered two prehistoric monsters fighting around them. In the story they also encounter living fire. In the center of the earth any wrong step of wrong turn could lead to most certainly death or being trapped down there forever. To find out more details and what happens in the rest of the book, you will just have to read it for yourself.
Like I mentioned before the reading experience of this book was very good. The characters were very well developed, because of the information given about them and also how they were used throughout the story. Professor Hardwigg for example was a great character because he was a very smart man, but also a great adventurer. In the book as soon as the professor figured out what the paper ment he was ready to begin the journey. Harry was another great and well developed character, because of the information that was given in the beginning. Also, who would have thought that a 13 year old boy could have cracked the code before his smart uncle, so he plays a great role in this story.
The plot was very well developed and very well laid out. The story went step by step not leaving out anything and everything was very well explained. In the story they talked about having to learn to repel and in the story it told exactly how and why they did this.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and to people that think that this could actualy happen. Overall I enjoyed reading this book very much and I hope that this review will help anyone interested in reading it or people just reviewing it.
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on April 21, 2003
As an avid reader of Jules Verne, I enjoyed reading this book very much. I am not much for reading alot of books, but when I do read he is the authur that I choose. I thought that Journey to the Center of the Earth like all of his books was very well writen and very well developed.
I especially like these types of books because, they seem that they could actualy be real and certain places mentioned could actually exist. The book starts off with a young boy telling the story. His name is Harry and he lives in Hanburg with his uncle. His uncle's name is Professor Hardwigg. He is a professor of many different sciences like philosophy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and many other sciences. In the beginning of the book the Professor makes a discovery. His discovery is a small piece of paper that is called a Runic manuscript. The hard part was trying to figure out what langauge the paper was writen in, but once it was deciphered it appeared to have directions that lead to the center of the earth. So professor Hardwigg being the adventurer that he was, was ready to set off for Ireland, which is were the paper said to go first. Harry being only 13 had no choice in the matter but to go. They took a ten day trip on a boat to Ireland and when they got there, they were supposed to go to base of a mountain where there was a cave that they would enter that would lead them to the center of the earth. The cave seemed to go down and down forever where it lead them to the very depths of the earth. When they reached the center of the earth they came across a blue sky and an ocean. They built a raft to go across it and in the middle of crossing they ecountered two prehistoric monsters fighting around them. In the story they also encounter living fire. In the center of the earth any wrong step of wrong turn could lead to most certainly death or being trapped down there forever. To find out more details and what happens in the rest of the book, you will just have to read it for yourself.
Like I mentioned before the reading experience of this book was very good. The characters were very well developed, because of the information given about them and also how they were used throughout the story. Professor Hardwigg for example was a great character because he was a very smart man, but also a great adventurer. In the book as soon as the professor figured out what the paper ment he was ready to begin the journey. Harry was another great and well developed character, because of the information that was given in the beginning. Also, who would have thought that a 13 year old boy could have cracked the code before his smart uncle, so he plays a great role in this story.
The plot was very well developed and very well laid out. The story went step by step not leaving out anything and everything was very well explained. In the story they talked about having to learn to repel and in the story it told exactly how and why they did this.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and to people that think that this could actualy happen. Overall I enjoyed reading this book very much and I hope that this review will help anyone interested in reading it or people just reviewing it.
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on January 23, 2003
Jules Verne�s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth is a must read for any science fiction book lovers. I rate this book four stars because this book has great imagery and is very believable considering the fact that this journey never took place.
This book deserves four stars because Verne�s imagination makes this book an easy read with his use of vivid descriptions of the journey. The journey starts off with a scientist who finds a map to the center of the earth. Himself, his nephew, and a guide journey down an old volcano towards the center of the earth. On their journey they find all kinds of, thought to be extinct, animals and cavemen.
Although the three men find many exciting things they also encounter many hardships. The men are suffering from lack of food because they are miles from the surface of the earth, and they lack water because there are no water sources nearby. The men somehow find a river that is boiling hot due to the fact that they are inside a dormant volcano. When they find the underground world they also get food from the wild plants growing around them.
In my opinion this book is one of the greatest science fiction books that I have read. Jules Verne is an excellent writer who wrote many great books. This book is about three men who go on an expedition to the center of the earth. The question that you have to ask yourself before you read this is will they make it out alive. Well you will have to find out yourself by reading this great novel.
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on January 23, 2003
Jules Verne's classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth is a must read for any science fiction book lovers. I rate this book four stars because this book has great imagery and is very believable considering the fact that this journey never took place.
This book deserves four stars because Verne's imagination makes this book an easy read with his use of vivid descriptions of the journey. The journey starts off with a scientist who finds a map to the center of the earth. Himself, his nephew, and a guide journey down an old volcano towards the center of the earth. On their journey they find all kinds of, thought to be extinct, animals and cavemen.
Although the three men find many exciting things they also encounter many hardships. The men are suffering from lack of food because they are miles from the surface of the earth, and they lack water because there are no water sources nearby. The men somehow find a river that is boiling hot due to the fact that they are inside a dormant volcano. When they find the underground world they also get food from the wild plants growing around them.
In my opinion this book is one of the greatest science fiction books that I have read. Jules Verne is an excellent writer who wrote many great books. This book is about three men who go on an expedition to the center of the earth. The question that you have to ask yourself before you read this is will they make it out alive. Well you will have to find out yourself by reading this great novel.
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