Narrated by one of the three main characters, a young upstart whose zeal makes up for his naivety, this novel is fairly simplistic. In fact, the great irony of it is that despite it being a novel about travel, it doesn’t really go anywhere.
From end to end, it’s consists of “nearly”s and “almost”s rather than any actual substance of epic discovery that I was expecting. They nearly die, almost starve, just about drown, nearly discover living early man, almost find the destination of the original explorer they’re following and thus just about get to the centre of the globe but (and let’s face it this is hardly a spoiler really – check out the more accurate title above) they don’t actually make it because, to round it all off, just when you think that it might actually go somewhere, it ends. Hmmmphh.
Here and there the novel shows that it is very much a product of it’s post-enlightenment, pre-modernist time. Science is held to be the torch by which we make progress. The (as ever slightly mad) professor, stakes his life (and his companions’) on the whirr of a compass needle or the mark on a dial and all the while, the virtually mute (dumb?) token foreigner in the form of the Icelandic guy they’ve got with them simply follows the enlightened Germans obediently.
It wasn’t a patch on Around the World in 80 Days although (more irony) both books have the main characters arrive from where they start out. I wonder what 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea‘s plot is like… no… don’t tell me. Let me guess!
On the 24th of May 1863, my uncle Professor Lidenbrock rushed into his little house, number 19 Konigstrasse, one of the oldest streets in the oldest portion of the city of Hamburg.
When science has uttered her voice, let babblers hold their peace.
To see locations mentioned in this book, download/open Google Earth file.
What is the need of adding that the illustrious Otto Lidenbrock corresponding member of all the scientific, geographical and mineralogical societies of all the civilised world was now her uncle and mine.
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb