Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

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Overview

When Axel deciphers an old parchment that describes a secret passage through a volcano to the centre of the earth, nothing will stop his eccentric Uncle Lidenbrock from setting out at once. So, with silent Hans the guide, the two men embark on a perilous, astonishing, terrifying journey through the subterranean world - the most incredible voyage ever!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812418491
Publisher: Perfection Learning
Publication date: 11/28/1994
Pages: 291
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

About the Author

French author Jules Verne was born in the port of Nantes in 1828. He later moved to Paris to study law. At age twenty-eight, he married Honorine de Viane, a young widow with two children. Verne published several plays under the tutelage of Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. He made his living as a stockbroker until his first successful series, Voyages Extraordinaire, was published in 1863. Soon Verne's novels became enormously popular around the world. Without a scientific background or experiences as a traveler, Verne spent much of his time doing research for his books. However, when the logic of the story contradicted scientific knowledge, Verne took poetic license with science to serve his fast-paced adventures. Verne's stories caught the spirit of the nineteenth century and its uncritical enthusiasm about scientific progress and invention. His works were often written in the form of a travel book taking the readers on fantastic voyages. Many of Verne's ideas have been hailed as prophetic, predicting some of the inventions that have changed our world, including the airplane, the submarine, and spacecraft. He published sixty-five novels, some twenty short stories and essays, thirty plays, an opera libretto and two geographical works. In the first part of his career Verne expressed optimism about progress and Europe's central role in the social and technical development of the world. In Verne's later novels, the author's pessimism is reflected in the doom-laden fin-de-siècle atmosphere. In contrast to the adventurous spirit of his novels, Verne's personal life was relatively uneventful, with the exception of his surviving a murder attempt by his insane nephew. Verne died of natural causes in Amiens on March 24, 1905.

Bill Homewood is a television, voice actor, and an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. He has regularly appeared on such shows as Coronation Street, The Adventure Game, and The Talisman.

Date of Birth:

February 8, 1828

Date of Death:

March 24, 1905

Place of Birth:

Nantes, France

Place of Death:

Amiens, France

Education:

Nantes lycée and law studies in Paris

Read an Excerpt

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."

Table of Contents

1My Uncle Lidenbrock1
2The Stange Parchment7
3My Uncle is Baffled13
4I Find the Key21
5Hunger Defeats Me26
6I Argue in Vain33
7Getting Ready42
8The First Stage50
9We Reach Iceland58
10Our First Dinner in Iceland66
11Our Guide Hans72
12Slow Progress79
13Icelandic Hospitality85
14A Final Argument92
15The Summit of Sneffels99
16Inside the Crater106
17Our Real Journey Begins113
18Ten Thousand Feet Below Sea-Level119
19Upwards Again126
20A Dead End132
21The New Columbus138
22I Collapse144
23We Find Water148
24Under the Sea154
25A Day of Rest159
26Alone165
27Lost and Panic-Stricken169
28I Hear Voices173
29Saved179
30An Underground Sea184
31The Raft193
32We Set Sail199
33A Battle of Monsters207
34The Great Geyser215
35The Storm221
36An Unpleasant Shock228
37A Human Skull235
38The Professor Gives a Lecture240
39Man Alive247
40We Meet an Obstacle255
41Down the Tunnel261
42Going Up267
43Shot Out of a Volcano274
44Back to the Surface281
45Home Again288

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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Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 174 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nearly 30% of the words here are misspelled and require guessing what they might mean. It's so sad that such a great story has been so badly mishandled.
Rinoa More than 1 year ago
With an attempt to get into reading, my husband bought me the nook for Christmas. I decided that I wanted to start off by reading Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It took me several weeks to read this book in 30-60 minute sessions before bed, and I didn't read it every night. Today I noticed I had 30 pages left so I quickly finished the book. I was thrilled to actually read a classic novel. The ebook itself had misspellings, but that was to be expected. It helps to have an understanding of science to make sense of certain aspects and to be prepared for an older version of English writing when attempting to read. I would recommend it to people who aren't put off by pessimism. One downfall that I found was the 9 lives the characters have. No matter how many times he almost died, he prevailed. You know the main character survived, or how else would he be writing this book in such a narrative manner? I prefer surprises and unexpected twists which were not found in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great classic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is good. However, this has WAY too many typoes and strange symbols. I had to get a library book and read that to understand this. You should do the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a nice classic book and i really enjoyed it. It takes you on and theres alot of detail involved and leaves you longing for an adventure of your own.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Verne is considered the father of science fiction and this novel was written back in 1864. Given that, I was rather pleasantly surprised with how engaging I found the story. Sure, the science is dated, but it made me want to know more about geology and the first person narrator, Axel, is witty and his uncle the professor an amusing eccentric. During this quest to make it to the center of a hollow Earth we encounter mushroom forests, an underground sea, marine dinosaurs, a hominid and mastodons. It's a pleasant enough read, even if rather superficial in literary depth and with a ridiculous ending, even given the science of its time. Worth reading if you're interested in the origins of the genre.
igjoe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a classic for a reason. A bit technical, but so exciting and enjoyable. If you have adventure in you, you will love this book. A well written escape from the everyday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Original Masterpiece!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive watched the movie before
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What does that mean?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has many typos but on very few ocasions can you not figure out the word it means. Overall very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were wierd symbols in my copy and typos everywhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A faithful guide and dangerus adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does not deserve any stars. I am not reading anything by Jules Verne. Deserves —124689854214680986541356890 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And by great i mean terribble. Many words misspelled, and garbage charecters. Dont bother unless you can decypher it like me.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago