Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Classic Challenge (#1)

French naturalist Dr. Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus, a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience amongst the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo's mission is one of revenge-and his methods coldly efficient.

eBook, first published 1870 

(info grabbed from GoodReads) 

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it reads like a textbook with pieces of plot strewn throughout.  It is more a speculative biology lesson than a fictional story.  Even though I fought falling asleep more than the book fought under the sea creatures, I still think it is an important book to read.

Jules Verne is often seen one of the fathers of science fiction, and that is because of his exploratory mind.  He wrote a book about submarines and what we could find there before we had the means to find out.  Older science fiction usually addresses mechanisms that the author has thought up as a possible solution to a problem in the book, and sometimes, they work.  For example, there is a lever system in the Nautilus that was eventually developed and used in the real world.  Reading something dreamt up before its time reminds me of the amazing bounds the human mind is capable of.

Also it is important that back in the time of Jules Verne, reading was not supposed to be enjoyable; reading was not an activity of the masses.  Scholars read, people went to plays.  Reading was not meant to be enjoyable because writing was a duty of the privileged and educated for the privileged and educated.  Now that things have changed and the masses can read, I think it is important that we remember that it was not always the case.

So maybe that wasn’t what I expected to get out of reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (I was expecting some excitement, of which there is …mmm…none).  But what I did get out of it was surprising and makes me appreciate reading more.  Especially reading for enjoyment.  I think many of us forget that it is a relatively new concept.

Final Thought: the fact that books are no longer written like this gets 100 out of 100 toadstools


  1. :) Yep, some of those classics can be quite the pull. Congrats on getting through!