….almost. It has been (again) a crazy week. But I think I am ready for Christmas–finally. Are you?
I have picked out a cliché this week, I just haven’t gotten time to think about an actual story. I am reading Jules Verne for the first time this week too, which is great fun since I just watched Journey to the Center of the Earth 2, Mysterious Island (I am a sucker for The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson) while wrapping presents. I had picked up 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as my Verne book–and Capt’n Nemo’s Nautilus does show up towards the end of the movie.
Now that I have seen the movie, I think more reading of Verne is in my future. They did pull from quite a few of his books, as well as Treasure Island (something I skipped when assigned) and Gulliver’s Travels. More books to read, although I had, in fact, put Treasure Island on my summer reading list, which is an actual pile of books I pulled from my library that I think I should read. I am half way through now, having finished Dr Faustus and After the Fall. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was just on top of Treasure Island when I went to grab a new book.
My version of 20,000 Leagues was my father’s, and cost 50 cents in the 1960s when he purchased it. It is also single spaced with very compact print, which makes the reading extra special fun!
I can absolutely see why Verne’s novels have lasted as long as they have. He is extremely detailed and imaginative, although I will admit to my eyes glazing over during some of his more scientific explanations of how Capt’n Nemo’s inventions work. And, occasionally, I feel the need for a dictionary. That is mostly during his scientific or plant/animal descriptions. Although my father had a PhD in Zoology, I never learned the Latin names of oceanic flora and fauna.
I feel that Verne started with a solid scientific base (he was clearly interested in science and the natural world), before he started expanding into the more fantastical inventions of Capt’n Nemo’s. I’m not familiar enough with the science of that time to know exactly where the line is, but fun to wonder about submarines and when exactly divers started carrying their own air as Nemo did, instead of being tethered by an air hose.
I am fascinated by the language he uses, the depth and breadth of it as well as how some words have changed in meaning since he wrote this in the 1860s. I did find myself a little offended by the main character’s complete faith in killing a large sea animal that was never been seen before, just so that he could say he did it, and bring some piece of it back to his museum. I realized that was a common enough attitude in the 1800s, however, when man was conquering the planet and feeling justified about doing it (of course, some trophy hunters of today still feel that way, but that is a whole other subject). So I try to see that as more historical context. Especially as it turned out to be the Nautilus they were hunting, and not some defenseless narwhale.
I’m only about a third of the way through, as I am so busy that I only get to read a half hour a day at lunch. But I am looking forward to my next lunch break.