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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

By: Jules Verne

An early science fiction novel written by the second most translated author, French writer Jules Verne, the classic tale depicts an incredible sea expedition on board a state-of-the-art submarine. First published in 1870 and a part of the Voyages Extraordinaires series, the novel is regarded as one of the most thrilling adventure stories and one of Verne’s greatest pieces of work. Immersed in themes of exploration, avant-garde technology, and man’s insatiable desire for knowledge and scientific progression, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea has been an influence for many writers as well as an inspiration for numerous film adaptations. The novel kicks off when rumors spread about sightings of a mysterious sea monster, initially thought to be a giant narwhal. This instigates the United States government to organize an expedition in hopes of hunting down and destroying the ravaging creature. Consequently, French marine biologist Pierre Aronnax is invited to join the expedition, who takes with him his trusted servant Conseil, along with expert harpooner Ned Land, and accordingly the trio set about the search. Following a lengthy pursuit, the ship finally finds and attacks the monster but to no avail, as the impact hurls the three men into the water. In an attempt to grasp the hide of the monster, the men come to a startling discovery as they realize the supposed monster is in fact a submarine. The men are then captured and brought inside the futuristic vessel, which they later find out is named Nautilus, and meet its enigmatic commander and creator, Captain Nemo. So begins the journey on board the Nautilus, as its three coerced guests travel across all the world’s seas visiting different underwater locations while witnessing the most bizarre, yet gripping marvels of the oceanic depths. Shipwrecks, giant squids, sharks, lost cities, coral reefs, whirlpools and an eccentric captain are just some of the obstacles separating the trio from their freedom. An exhilarating subaqueous adventure through unseen wonders, Verne’s detailed and prophetic imagination propels the novel and secures its position as a literary classic and a pristine model for science fiction enthusiasts.

The expedition leaves Brooklyn aboard the United States Navy frigate Abraham Lincoln, then travels south around Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean. After a five-month search ending off Japan, the frigate locates and attacks the monster, which damages the ship's rudder. Aronnax and Land are hurled into the sea, and Conseil jumps into the water after them. They survive by climbing onto the "monster," which, they are startled to find, is a futuristic submarine. They wait on the deck of the vessel until morning, when they are captured, hauled inside, and introduced to the submarine's mysterious constructor and commander, Captain Nemo.

 

The rest of the novel describes the protagonists' adventures aboard the Nautilus, which was built in secrecy and now roams the seas beyond the reach of land-based governments. In self-imposed exile, Captain Nemo seems to have a dual motivation — a quest for scientific knowledge and a desire to escape terrestrial civilization. Nemo explains that his submarine is electrically powered and can conduct advanced marine research; he also tells his new passengers that his secret existence means he cannot let them leave — they must remain on board permanently. Professor Aronnax and Conseil are enthralled by the prospect of undersea exploration, but Ned Land increasingly hungers to escape.

Book Details

Language

English

Original Language

French

Published In

1870

Author

Verne is considered to be an important author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation was markedly different in an...

More about Jules Verne

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