It’s time for a seatime adventure!
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Boss Book Club!
Today we will be reviewing the classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea!
Seeing as this is a classic, here is just a little bit of the history and background in order to appreciate this book properly! Firstly, it is written by Frenchman Jules Verne, who lived from 1828 to 1905, and whose other numerous novels most notably include Around the World in 80 days and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Twenty thousand leagues under the sea was originally published over a two year period as a serial, so readers originally received the tale in installments between 1869 and 1870, with an illustrated version released a year later.
That’s all the basics, so let’s get down to the story.
The story is told in first person perspective by a doctor, Mr M. Annorax after he, his servant Conseil and a friend (a harpooner named Ned) are taken hostage on board a mysterious submarine called The Nautilus. In charge of the vessel is Captain Nemo, a mysterious character with an unknown motive and past.
This book is labelled one of the great adventure novels of all time, and with good reason. If you are a lover of the sea or of exploration then you will be delighted with this book. The book reads as one long, extroadinary adventure of the sights, sounds and occurings of underwater exploration that spans “twenty thousand leagues” or over six months underneath the ocean. Jules Verne uses the character of Annorax, who is a specialist in marine biology, to great effect to provide detailed explanations of the flora and fauna of the underwater world.
These detailed explanations of the various species of fish, crustaceans, seaweed and coral would have certainly captured the imaginations of readers at the time, however I found these detailed listings both a blessing and a curse as I read. At times they would stretch to almost a page long, and if I recognized what he was describing, they helped paint a beautiful scene of what the crew were observing. However, a lot of the time, the names of the various fish were unrecognizable, and unless you went through the effort of looking up every single one, it made for tiresome reading, slowed down the pace of the story, and left me wanting to skim over some of these sections.
This book is classified as a science fiction novel, which surprised me initially, until I found out that Verne’s explanations of the mechanical workings of the The Nautilus were way ahead of their time, and that submarines were only primitive when he wrote this novel. Verne goes into great detail as to how The Nautilus operates, which may be of interest to those who have an eye for technical details in their stories. However, if you have no interest in the mechanics behind submarine operation, these parts may drag for you as well.
Ultimately though, this book provides a unique and special experience for the reader as it is the ultimate underwater adventure story. In today’s world we can fly to any country, board any train, plain, tram, cart or donkey to do it. We can explore mountains, and desserts, and now they’re even talking about commercial trips to the moon in our near future! However, most of us cannot say we’ve ever been in a submarine, or have experienced what it’s like to explore the whole world, landscapes and life that’s at the bottom of the ocean. You will be hard pressed to find a novel that gives you that experience, and that’s why this book remains one of the best of all time.
Another reason this book is great is because it contains one of the most interesting classic literary characters: Captain Nemo. The tension and relationship between Nemo and Annorax runs as almost a second plotline, second only to the exploration of the sea. Is Nemo friend or foe? Villainous loner or solitary genius? Finding out the secret of Nemo will keep you interested from beginning to end.
I will be honest and say it was a bit of a hard slog to read at times, mainly because of the density of the language and the lengthy descriptions, however once I had completed it I was very glad that I had. This book remains the classic underwater adventure, and opens you to a whole world that many of us would not otherwise experience. Jules Verne is the ultimate storyteller of life under the sea.
Thank you for reading, see you next time on The Boss Book Club!
Did you enjoy 20000 Leagues Under the Sea? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!