Journey to the Center of the Earth

Overview

Professor Lindenbrock and his nephew Axel, the story's narrator, on a quest to reach the very core of the earth, gain access to the interior by travelling north to cold and barren Iceland, where they enter the subterranean regions through the cone of the extinct volcano Sneffels.

In their descent they must in effect read nature backwards as they pass through the strata of successively earlier and earlier periods, eventually finding themselves in a marvelous underground world ...

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Overview

Professor Lindenbrock and his nephew Axel, the story's narrator, on a quest to reach the very core of the earth, gain access to the interior by travelling north to cold and barren Iceland, where they enter the subterranean regions through the cone of the extinct volcano Sneffels.

In their descent they must in effect read nature backwards as they pass through the strata of successively earlier and earlier periods, eventually finding themselves in a marvelous underground world filled with exotic plants and long extinct animals. Finally, they have a brief glimpse of a prehistoric man guarding a herd of mastodons.

A team of explorers makes an expedition into a crater in Iceland which leads to the center of the earth and to incredible and horrifying discoveries.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Melyssa Malinowski
Axel is quite at home with rocks. Perhaps this is because he lives with his eccentric but brilliant uncle, the geologist and adventurer Professor Lidenbrock. Usually, his uncle's adventures are odd, but not completely insane. That is until a runic note falls from a text that Professor Lidenbrock is reading. The note becomes the key to a quest that may lead them the very center of the earth. The pair departs immediately for Iceland, hiring Hans Bjelke as a guide. They follow the instructions on the note and do indeed find a passage into the earth. There, they experience a number of wonders and frights far beyond what they have ever imagined. They pass through a chamber with flammable gas and use acoustic phenomenon to talk to each other while they are miles apart. They continue on and find an ocean. They cross the ocean, only to witness two dinosaurs attacking each other. Then, they see a herd of dinosaurs walk by a prehistoric man over twelve feet tall. The travelers begin to leave, only to be stopped by a caved-in tunnel. They blast their way through and are rushed out of the volcano in a pool of water and magma. They return to their home in Germany and are greeted with joy and treated famously. While this story is indeed a classic and truly belongs on library shelves, only the most die-hard fantasy fans will love this book. Verne's descriptions and characterizations are wonderful, but he is definitely not a writer for the casual reader. Reviewer: Melyssa Malinowski
Library Journal - BookSmack!
Simon Prebble reads Jules Verne's fabulous expedition with such power and glee that listeners are transported right along with Professor Lidenbrock, his nephew, and their guide deep under Iceland toward the center of the earth. Beck fans will delight in the mysterious runic code that eventually leads the three men to the crater entrance, as well as in the vivid descriptions of the prehistoric animal and plant life that they discover. While not as fast-paced as today's modern adventures, Verne's novel invented many of the elements Beck, Rollins, and Reilly rework. Prebble adds to the text with his fine sense of pacing and marvelous characterization. — Neal Wyatt, "RA Crossroads," Booksmack! 1/6/11
School Library Journal
05/01/2014
Gr 6 Up—The graphic novel format has been applied to these literature classics, with a result that sacrifices much of the literary integrity of the original works, while at the same time relying heavily on descriptive text in order to move the plot forward. Each book in this series begins with an introduction to the characters, and concludes with information about the source author, notable historical events from around the time of the classic's first publication, and a bibliography of the source author's works. The story is depicted through a series of paneled illustrations with accompanying text summarizing the plot. Each spread has been given a heading that relates to the main plot point therein. The images are realistic, and focus primarily on the protagonists' faces. Opportunities to depict the lush settings, such as Paris in Hunchback, or the unknown landscapes in Journey, are given over to close-ups on the characters mentioned in the accompanying text. An uninviting use of the format with limited appeal.—Matthew C. Winner, Ducketts Lane Elementary School, Elkridge, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491586952
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 12/2/2014
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jules Verne

Often labeled the "father of science fiction," Jules Verne was less concerned with the gadgets of science than with its effect of people. His fantasies explored the possibilities in a way that excited the imaginations of generations of readers and paved the way for the host of writers that followed in his footsteps.

Biography

The creator of the roman scientifique, the popular literary genre known today as science fiction, Jules Gabriel Verne was born in the port town of Nantes, France, in 1828. His father, Pierre, was a prominent lawyer, and his mother, Sophie, was from a successful ship-building family. Despite his father's wish that he pursue law, young Jules was fascinated by the sea and all things foreign and adventurous. Legend holds that at age eleven he ran away from school to work aboard a ship bound for the West Indies but was caught by his father shortly after leaving port. Jules developed an abiding love of science and language from a young age. He studied geology, Latin, and Greek in secondary school, and frequently visited factories, where he observed the workings of industrial machines. These visits likely inspired his desire for scientific plausibility in his writing and perhaps informed his depictions of the submarine Nautilus and the other seemingly fantastical inventions he described.

After completing secondary school, Jules studied law in Paris, as his father had before him. However, during the two years he spent earning his degree, he developed more consuming interests. Through family connections, he entered Parisian literary circles and met many of the distinguished writers of the day. Inspired in particular by novelists Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas (father and son), Verne began writing his own works. His poetry, plays, and short fiction achieved moderate success, and in 1852 he became secretary of the Théâtre lyrique. In 1857 he married Honorine Morel, a young widow with two children. Seeking greater financial security, he took a position as a stockbroker with the Paris firm Eggly and Company. However, he reserved his mornings for writing. Baudelaire's recently published French translation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the days Verne spent researching points of science in the library, inspired him to write a new sort of novel: the roman scientifique. His first such novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, was an immediate success and earned him a publishing contract with the important editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel.

For the rest of his life, Verne published an average of two novels a year; the fifty-four volumes published during his lifetime, collectively known as Voyages Extraordinaires, include his best-known works, Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Begun in 1865 and published to huge success in 1869, Twenty Thousand Leagues has been translated into 147 languages and adapted into dozens of films. The novel also holds the distinction of describing a submarine twenty-five years before one was actually constructed. As a tribute to Verne, the first electric and nuclear submarines were named Nautilus. In 1872 Verne settled in Amiens with his family. During the next several years he traveled extensively on his yachts, visiting such locales as North Africa, Gibraltar, Scotland, and Ireland. In 1886 Verne's mentally ill nephew shot him in the leg, and the author was lame thereafter. This incident, as well as the tumultuous political climate in Europe, marked a change in Verne's perspective on science, exploration, and industry. Although not as popular as his early novels, Verne's later works are in many ways as prescient. Touching on such subjects as the ill effects of the oil industry, the negative influence of missionaries in the South Seas, and the extinction of animal species, they speak to concerns that remain urgent in our own time.

Verne continued writing actively throughout his life, despite failing health, the loss of family members, and financial troubles. At his death in 1905 his desk drawers contained the manuscripts of several new novels. Jules Verne is buried in the Madeleine Cemetery in Amiens.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Good To Know

In 1848, Verne got his start writing librettos for operettas.

When Verne's father found out that his son would rather write than study law, he cut him off financially, and Jules was forced to support himself as a stockbroker -- a job he hated but was fairly good at. During this period, he sought advice and inspiration from authors Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.

Verne stands as the most translated novelist in the world -- 148 languages, according to UNESCO statistics.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 8, 1828
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nantes, France
    1. Date of Death:
      March 24, 1905
    2. Place of Death:
      Amiens, France
    1. Education:
      Nantes lycée and law studies in Paris

Read an Excerpt

Journey to the Center of the Earth

1

My Uncle Makes a Great Discovery

LOOKING BACK TO ALL THAT HAS OCCURRED TO ME SINCE THAT eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures. They were truly so wonderful that even now I am bewildered when I think of them.

My uncle was a German, having married my mother's sister, an Englishwoman. Being very much attached to his fatherless nephew, he invited me to study under him in his home in the fatherland. This home was in a large town, and my uncle a professor of philosophy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and many other ologies.

One day, after passing some hours in the laboratory—my uncle being absent at the time—I suddenly felt the necessity of renovating the tissues—i. e., I was hungry, and was about to rouse up our old French cook, when my uncle, Professor Von Hardwigg, suddenly opened the street door, and came rushing upstairs.

Now Professor Hardwigg, my worthy uncle, is by no means a bad sort of man; he is, however, choleric and original. To bear with him means to obey; and scarcely had his heavy feet resounded within our joint domicile than he shouted for me to attend upon him.

"Harry—Harry—Harry—"

I hastened to obey, but before I could reach his room, jumping three steps at a time, he was stamping his right foot upon the landing.

"Harry!" he cried, in a frantic tone, "are you coming up?"

Now to tell the truth, at that moment I was far more interested in the question as to what was to constitute our dinner than in any problem of science; to me soup was more interesting than soda, an omelette more tempting than arithmetic, and an artichoke of ten times more value than any amount of asbestos.

But my uncle was not a man to be kept waiting; so adjourning therefore all minor questions, I presented myself before him.

He was a very learned man. Now most persons in this category supply themselves with information, as peddlers do with goods, for the benefit of others, and lay up stores in order to diffuse them abroad for the benefit of society in general. Not so my excellent uncle, Professor Hardwigg; he studied, he consumed the midnight oil, he pored over heavy tomes, and digested huge quartos and folios in order to keep the knowledge acquired to himself.

There was a reason, and it may be regarded as a good one, why my uncle objected to display his learning more than was absolutely necessary: he stammered; and when intent upon explaining the phenomena of the heavens, was apt to find himself at fault, and allude in such a vague way to sun, moon, and stars that few were able to comprehend his meaning. To tell the honest truth, when the right word would not come, it was generally replaced by a very powerful adjective.

In connection with the sciences there are many almost unpronounceable names—names very much resembling those of Welsh villages; and my uncle being very fond of using them, his habit of stammering was not thereby improved. In fact, there were periods in his discourse when he would finally give up and swallow his discomfiture—in a glass of water.

As I said, my uncle, Professor Hardwigg, was a very learned man; and I now add a most kind relative. I was bound to him by the double ties of affection and interest. I took deep interest in all his doings, and hoped some day to be almost as learned myself. It was a rare thing for me to be absent from his lectures. Like him, I preferred mineralogy to all the other sciences. My anxiety was to gain real knowledge of the earth. Geology and mineralogy were to us the sole objects of life, and in connection with these studies many a fair specimen of stone, chalk, or metal did we break with our hammers.

Steel rods, lodestone, glass pipes, and bottles of various acids were oftener before us than our meals. Myuncle Hardwigg was once known to classify six hundred different geological specimens by their weight, hardness, fusibility, sound, taste, and smell.

He corresponded with all the great, learned and scientific men of the age. I was, therefore, in constant communication with, at all events the letters of, Sir Humphry Davy, Captain Franklin, and other great men.

But before I state the subject on which my uncle wished to confer with me, I must say a word about his personal appearance. Alas! my readers will see a very different portrait of him at a future time, after he has gone through the fearful adventures yet to be related.

My uncle was fifty years old; tall, thin, and wiry. Large spectacles hid, to a certain extent, his vast, round and goggle eyes, while his nose was irreverently compared to a thin file. So much indeed did it resemble that useful article, that a compass was said in his presence to have made considerable N deviation.

The truth being told, however, the only article really attracted to my uncle's nose was tobacco.

Another peculiarity of his was, that he always stepped a yard at a time, clenched his fists as if he were going to hit you, and was, when in one of his peculiar humors, very far from a pleasant companion.

It is further necessary to observe that he lived in a very nice house, in that very nice street, the Königstrasse at Hamburg. Though lying in the center of a town, it was perfectly rural in its aspect—half wood, half bricks, with old-fashioned gables—one of the few old houses spared by the great fire of 1842.

When I say a nice house, I mean a handsome house—old, tottering, and not exactly comfortable to English notions: a house a little off the perpendicular and inclined to fall into the neighboring canal; exactly the house for a wandering artist to depict; all the more that you could scarcely see it for ivy and a magnificent old tree which grew over the door.

My uncle was rich; his house was his own property, while he had a considerable private income. To my notion the best part of his possessions was his goddaughter,Gretchen. And the old cook, the young lady, the Professor and I were the sole inhabitants.

I loved mineralogy, I loved geology. To me there was nothing like pebbles—and if my uncle had been in a little less of a fury, we should have been the happiest of families. To prove the excellent Hardwigg's impatience, I solemnly declare that when the flowers in the drawing-room pots began to grow, he rose every morning at four o'clock to make them grow quicker by pulling the leaves.

Having described my uncle, I will now give an account of our interview.

He received me in his study; a perfect museum, containing every natural curiosity that can well be imagined—minerals, however, predominating. Every one was familiar to me, having been catalogued by my own hand. My uncle, apparently oblivious of the fact that he had summoned me to his presence, was absorbed in a book. He was particularly fond of early editions, tall copies, and unique works.

"Wonderful!" he cried, tapping his forehead. "Wonderful—wonderful!"

It was one of those yellow-leaved volumes now rarely found on stalls, and to me it appeared to possess but little value. My uncle, however, was in raptures.

He admired its binding, the clearness of its characters, the ease with which it opened in his hand, and repeated aloud, half-a-dozen times, that it was very, very old.

To my fancy he was making a great fuss about nothing, but it was not my province to say so. On the contrary, I professed considerable interest in the subject, and asked him what it was about.

"It is the Heims-Kringla of Snorre Tarleson," he said, "the celebrated Icelandic author of the twelfth century—it is a true and correct account of the Norwegian princes who reigned in Iceland."

My next question related to the language in which it was written. I hoped at all events it was translated into German. My uncle was indignant at the very thought, and declared he wouldn't give a penny for a translation. His delight was to have found the original work in the Icelandic tongue, which he declared to be one of themost magnificent and yet simple idioms in the world—while at the same time its grammatical combinations were the most varied known to students.

"About as easy as German?" was my insidious remark.

My uncle shrugged his shoulders.

"The letters at all events," I said, "are rather difficult of comprehension."

"It is a Runic manuscript, the language of the original population of Iceland, invented by Odin himself," cried my uncle, angry at my ignorance.

I was about to venture upon some misplaced joke on the subject, when a small scrap of parchment fell out of the leaves. Like a hungry man snatching at a morsel of bread the Professor seized it. It was about five inches by three and was scrawled over in the most extraordinary fashion.

The lines on page 6 are an exact facsimile of what was written on the venerable piece of parchment—and have wonderful importance, as they induced my uncle to undertake the most wonderful series of adventures which ever fell to the lot of human beings.

My uncle looked keenly at the document for some moments and then declared that it was Runic. The letters were similar to those in the book, but then what did they mean? This was exactly what I wanted to know.

Now as I had a strong conviction that the Runic alphabet and dialect were simply an invention to mystify poor human nature, I was delighted to find that my uncle knew as much about the matter as I did—which was nothing. At all events, the tremulous motion of his fingers made me think so.

"And yet," he muttered to himself, "it is old Icelandic, I am sure of it."

And my uncle ought to have known, for he was a perfect polyglot dictionary in himself. He did not pretend, like a certain learned pundit, to speak the two thousand languages and four thousand idioms made use of in different parts of the globe, but he did know all the more important ones.

It is a matter of great doubt to me now, to what violent measures my uncle's impetuosity might have led him,had not the clock struck two, and our old French cook called out to let us know that dinner was on the table.

"Bother the dinner!" cried my uncle.

But as I was hungry, I sailed forth to the dining room, where I took up my usual quarters. Out of politeness I waited three minutes, but no sign of my uncle, the Professor. I was surprised. He was not usually so blind to the pleasure of a good dinner. It was the acme of German luxury—parsley soup, a ham omelette with sorrel trimmings, an oyster of veal stewed with prunes, delicious fruit, and sparkling Moselle. For the sake of poring over this musty old piece of parchment, my uncle forbore to share our meal. To satisfy my conscience, I ate for both.

The old cook and housekeeper was nearly out of her mind. After taking so much trouble, to find her master not appear at dinner was to her a sad disappointment—which, as she occasionally watched the havoc I was making on the viands, became also alarm. If my uncle were to come to table after all?

Suddenly, just as I had consumed the last apple and drunk the last glass of wine, a terrible voice was heard at no great distance. It was my uncle roaring for me to come to him. I made very nearly one leap of it—so loud, so fierce was his tone.

All new material in this edition copyright © 1988 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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Table of Contents

1 My Uncle Lidenbrock 1
2 The Stange Parchment 7
3 My Uncle is Baffled 13
4 I Find the Key 21
5 Hunger Defeats Me 26
6 I Argue in Vain 33
7 Getting Ready 42
8 The First Stage 50
9 We Reach Iceland 58
10 Our First Dinner in Iceland 66
11 Our Guide Hans 72
12 Slow Progress 79
13 Icelandic Hospitality 85
14 A Final Argument 92
15 The Summit of Sneffels 99
16 Inside the Crater 106
17 Our Real Journey Begins 113
18 Ten Thousand Feet Below Sea-Level 119
19 Upwards Again 126
20 A Dead End 132
21 The New Columbus 138
22 I Collapse 144
23 We Find Water 148
24 Under the Sea 154
25 A Day of Rest 159
26 Alone 165
27 Lost and Panic-Stricken 169
28 I Hear Voices 173
29 Saved 179
30 An Underground Sea 184
31 The Raft 193
32 We Set Sail 199
33 A Battle of Monsters 207
34 The Great Geyser 215
35 The Storm 221
36 An Unpleasant Shock 228
37 A Human Skull 235
38 The Professor Gives a Lecture 240
39 Man Alive 247
40 We Meet an Obstacle 255
41 Down the Tunnel 261
42 Going Up 267
43 Shot Out of a Volcano 274
44 Back to the Surface 281
45 Home Again 288
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First Chapter

I

It was on Sunday, the 24th of May, 1863, that my uncle, Professor Lidenbrock, came rushing suddenly back to his little house in the old part of Hamburg, No. 19, Königstrasse.

Our good Martha could not but think she was very much behindhand with the dinner, for the pot was scarcely beginning to simmer, and I said to myself:

"Now, then, we'll have a fine outcry if my uncle is hungry, for he is the most impatient of mortals."

"Mr. Lidenbrock, already!" cried the poor woman, in dismay, half opening the dining-room door.

"Yes, Martha; but of course dinner can't be ready yet, for it is not two o'clock. It has only just struck the half-hour by St. Michael's."

"What brings Mr. Lidenbrock home, then?"

"He'll probably tell us that himself."

"Here he comes. I'll be off, Mr. Axel; you must make him listen to reason."

And forthwith she effected a safe retreat to her culinary laboratory.

I was left alone, but not feeling equal to the task of making the most irascible of professors listen to reason, was about to escape to my own little room upstairs, when the street-door creaked on its hinges, and the wooden stairs cracked beneath a hurried tread, and the master of the house came in and bolted across the dining-room, straight into his study. But, rapid as his flight was, he managed to fling his nutcracker-headed stick into a corner, and his wide-brimmed rough hat on the table, and to shout out to his nephew:

"Axel, follow me."

Before I had time to stir he called out again, in the most impatient tone imaginable:

"What! Not here yet?"

In an instant I was on my feet and in the study of mydreadful master.

Otto Lidenbrock was not a bad man. I grant that, willingly. But, unless he mightily changes, he will live and die a terrible origi- nal.

He was professor in the Johannæum, and gave the course of lectures on mineralogy, during which he regularly put himself into a passion once or twice. Not that he troubled himself much about the assiduity of his pupils, or the amount of attention they paid to his lessons, or their corresponding success. These points gave him no concern. He taught subjectively, to use a German philosophical expression, for himself, and not for others. He was a selfish savant— a well of science, and nothing could be drawn up from it without the grinding noise of the pulleys: in a word, he was a miser.

There are professors of this stamp in Germany.

My uncle, unfortunately, did not enjoy great facility of pronunciation, unless he was with intimate friends; at least, not when he spoke in public, and this is a deplorable defect in an orator. In his demonstrations at the Johannæum the professor would often stop short, struggling with some obstinate word that refused to slip over his lips—one of those words which resist, swell out, and finally come forth in the anything but scientific shape of an oath. This put him in a great rage.

Now, in mineralogy, there are many names difficult to pronounce—half Greek, half Latin, barbarous appellations which would blister the lips of a poet. I have no wish to speak ill of the science. Far from it. But when one has to do with rhomboidal crystallisations, retinasphaltic resins, galena favosite, molybdates of lead, tungstates of manganese, and titanites of zircon, the most nimble tongue may be allowed to stumble.

The townsfolk were aware of this pardonable infirmity of my uncle's, and they took advantage of it, and were on the watch for the dangerous passages; and when he put himself in a fury laughed at him, which was not in good taste, even for Germans. His lectures were always very numerously attended, but how many of those who were most regular auditors came for anything else but to make game of the professor's grand fits of passion I shouldn't like to say. Whatever my uncle might be, and I can hardly say too much, he was a true savant.

Though he sometimes broke his specimens by his rough handling, he had both the genius of a geologist and the eye of a mineralogist. With his hammer and steel pointer and magnetic needle, his blow-pipe and his flask of nitric acid, he was a master indeed. By the fracture, the hardness, the fusibility, the ring, the smell, of any mineral whatever, he classed it without hesitation among the six hundred species science numbers to-day.

The name of Lidenbrock was consequently mentioned with hon-our in gymnasiums and national associations. Humphry Davy, Humboldt, and Captains Franklin and Sabine, paid him a visit when they passed through Hamburg. Becqueul, Ebolmann, Brewster, Dumas, Milne-Edwards, Sainte Clarice Deville, took pleasure in consulting him on the most stirring questions of chemistry, a science which was indebted to him for discoveries of considerable importance; and in 1853 a treatise on Transcendent Crystallography, by Professor Otto Lidenbrock, was published at Leipsic, a large folio, with plates, which did not pay its cost, however.

Moreover, my uncle was curator of the Museum of Mineralogy, belonging to M. Struve, the Russian ambassador, a valuable collection, of European celebrity.

Such, then, was the personage who summoned me so impatiently.

Fancy to yourself a tall, spare man, with an iron constitution, and a juvenile fairness of complexion, which took off full ten years of his fifty. His large eyes rolled about incessantly behind his great goggles; his long thin nose resembled a knife-blade; malicious people declared it was magnetised, and attracted steel filings—a pure calumny; it attracted nothing but snuff, but, to speak truth, a super-abundance of that. When I have added that my uncle made mathematical strides of three feet at every step, and marched along with his fists firmly clenched—a sign of an impetuous temperament—you will know enough of him not to be over-anxious for his company.

He lived in his little house in Königstrasse, a dwelling built partly of brick and partly of stone, with a crenated gable-end, which looked on to one of those winding canals which intersect each other in the centre of the oldest part of Hamburg, which happily escaped the great fire in 1842.

The old house leaned forward slightly, and bulged out towards the passers-by. The roof inclined to one side, in the position a German student belonging to the Tugendbund wears his cap. The perpendicular of the house was not quite exact, but, on the whole, the house stood well enough, thanks to an old elm, firmly imbedded in the façade, which pushed its flower buds across the window-panes in spring.

My uncle was pretty rich for a German professor. The house was his own, and all its belongings. These belongings were his godchild Gräuben, a Virland girl, seventeen years old, his servant Martha, and myself. In my double quality of nephew and orphan, I became his assistant in his experiments.

I must confess I have a great appetite for geological science. The blood of a mineralogist flows in my veins, and I never grow weary in the society of my beloved stones.

On the whole, it was possible to live happily in this little house in Königstrasse, notwithstanding the impatience of the owner; for though he had a rough fashion of showing it, he loved me for all that. But, the fact was, he was a man who could not wait, and was in a greater hurry than nature.

When he used to plant mignonette and convolvuluses in his terra-cotta pots in the spring, every morning he went regularly and pulled their leaves, to hasten their growth.

With such an original, there was no alternative but to obey, so I darted into the study immediately.

II

The study was a complete museum, every specimen of the mineral kingdom was to be found there, all labelled in the most perfect order, in accordance with the three great divisions of minerals—the inflammable, the metallic, and the lithoid.

How well I knew this alphabet of mineralogical science. How many a time, instead of loitering about with boys of my own age, I amused myself by dusting these graphites, and anthracites, and pit coal, and touch-stones; and the bitumens, and the resins, and organic soils, which had to be kept from the least particle of dust; and the metals, from iron up to gold, the relative value of which disappeared before the absolute equality of scientific specimens; and all those stones, enough to build the little house in the Königstrasse over again, and an extra room besides, which I would have fitted up so nicely for myself.

But when I entered the study now, I scarcely thought of those wonders. My mind was entirely occupied with my uncle. He had buried himself in his big arm-chair, covered with Utrecht velvet, and held a book in his hands, gazing at it with the most profound admiration.

"What a book! What a book!" he exclaimed.

This reminded me that Professor Lidenbrock was also given to bibliomania in his leisure moments; but an old book would have had no value in his eyes unless it could not be found anywhere else, or, at all events, could not be read.

"What! don't you see it, then?" he went on. "It is a priceless treasure! I discovered it this morning while I was rummaging about in Hevelin's, the Jew's shop."

"Magnificent!" I replied with forced enthusiasm.

Really, what was the good of making such a fuss about an old quarto volume, the back and sides of which seemed bound in coarse calf—a yellowish old book, with a faded tassel dangling from it?

However, the professor's vocabulary of adjectives was not yet exhausted.

"Look!" he said, asking himself questions, and answering them in the same breath; "is it handsome enough? Yes; it is first-rate. And what binding! Does it open easily? Yes, it lies open at any page, no matter where. And does it close well? Yes; for binding and leaves seem in one completely. Not a single breakage in this back after 700 years of existence! Ah! this is binding that Bozerian, Closs, and Purgold might have been proud of!"

All the while he was speaking, my uncle kept opening and shutting the old book. I could not do less than ask him about the contents, though I did not feel the least interest in the subject.

"And what is the title of this wonderful volume?" I asked.

"The title of it?" he replied, with increased animation. "The title is ‘Heims Kringla,' by Snorre Turleson, the famous Icelandic author of the twelfth century. It is the chronicle of the Norwegian princes who reigned in Iceland."

"Indeed!" I said, doing my best to appear enthusiastic. "And it is translated into German, of course?"

"Translated!" cried the professor, in a sharp tone. "What should I do with a translation? Who cares for translations? It is the original work, in the Icelandic—that magnificent idiom at once grand and simple—which allows of the most varied grammatical combinations and most numerous modification of words."

"Like German," I said, making a lucky hit.

"Yes," replied my uncle, shrugging his shoulders; "without taking into account that the Icelandic language has the three numbers like the Greek, and declines proper names like the Latin."

"Does it?" said I, a little roused from my indifference. "And is the type good?"

"Type? Who is talking of type, you poor, ignorant Axel. So, you suppose this was printed! You ignoramus! It is a manuscript, and a Runic manuscript, too."

"Runic?"

"Yes. Are you going to ask me to explain that word, next?"

"Not if I know it," I replied, in a tone of wounded vanity.

But my uncle never heeded me, and went on with his instructions, telling me about things I did not care to know.

"The Runic characters were formerly used in Iceland, and, according to tradition, were invented by Odin himself. Look at them, and admire them, impious young man!—these types sprang from the imagination of a god."
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Reading Group Guide

The intrepid Professor Lindenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth's very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet's primordial secrets, the geologist—together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans—discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne's imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor. As David Brin notes in his Introduction, though Verne never knew the term "science fiction," Journey to the Centre of the Earth is "inarguably one of the wellsprings from which it all began."

1. Deciphering Arne Saknussemm's parchment does not come easily to Professor Lidenbrock, the profound analyst. Indeed, Verne has shown us, right from the start, that he will not take his audience's suspension of disbelief for granted. Discuss the role of logic in the novel; how does Verne's meticulous manipulation of science and history increase the believability–and ultimately the reader's enjoyment–of the adventure?

2. Dwelling on their shared hardships, Axel says, "My uncle bore them like a man who is angry with himself for yielding to weakness: Hans, with the resignation of his placid nature; and I, to speak the truth, complaining and despairing the whole time. I could not bear up against this stroke of ill-fortune." Compare Professor Lidenbrock, Axel, and Hans in terms of intellect, bravery, determination, and humor. How does each of their personal skills come into play in times of crisis, and how do theirshortcomings complicate the journey? Does Hans, the Icelandic guide of superhuman devotion, even have a weakness? If not, how does this affect your evaluation of him as a whole character?

3. Ingenuity and adaptability are vital to the explorers' success. Trace the many instances of resourcefulness in the novel, considering the adventurers' ingenious use of simple phenomena such as gravity, acoustics, and natural propulsion. How does this relate to David Brin's assertion in the Introduction: "Destiny– readers learned–was something you might craft with your own clever hands."

4. The long and often monotonous trek down to the earth's core poses some plot challenges for Verne. With only three characters, one goal, and little change in scenery, how does Verne create suspense in order to sustain the reader's interest?

5. Compare the competing characterizations of science in the novel: "When science has spoken, it is for us to hold our peace" versus "Science is eminently perfectible." Discuss how Verne's novel can be read as a tribute to scientific progress and the pluck of the explorer who contradicts accepted fact in search of greater truths.

6. Describe Axel's sublime hallucination on the subterranean ocean and the "abyss attraction" which overtakes him earlier in his descent. Why is Axel particularly affected by the romantic conception of the sublime?

7. How is Gräuben a "necessary" character, not only in the beginning but throughout the novel? Evaluate Brin's assertion in the Introduction that "science fictional women tend to be bolder than their eras, and science fictional men seem to like it that way."

8. Describe the subterranean world that the journeyers discover. How does Verne account for the underground ocean and the blanched species of flora and fauna? Did Verne's exposition of this primitive world meet your expectations? What surprises would have been in store in your own imaginative rendering of this peculiar environment?

9. How can Journey to the Centre of the Earth be interpreted as a psychological quest? Consider the roles of ambition, despair, and hope in the novel. Is the journey ultimately more important than the final outcome?

10. Jules Verne's extraordinary tales continue to fascinate readers because they capture the thrill of the unknown. In his Introduction, David Brin writes, "Verne knew what his contemporaries did not. . . . For his tales to continue taking hardy adventurers into strange locales, he would have to redefine the very idea of wilderness, the whole notion of a frontier." Why does the notion of the frontier continue to fascinate us? In this Internet age of globalization and routine space travel, what frontiers are left to science fiction? If not physical, might these remaining frontiers be mental and moral?

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