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4.3 out of 5 stars
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
There are three significant translations of this book, and amazon's lacklustre book-sorting system creates nothing but chaos when searching for the correct format / translation of this book. I'm here to help!

note: (find the version you are looking for with the ISBN numbers I've provided at the bottom of this review, you can just copy and paste them into the amazon search field and hit GO).

Here are excerpts from the three most common translations:

Paragraph one, translated by Mercier Lewis -
THE YEAR 1866 WAS signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumors which agitated the maritime population, and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the governments of several states on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter.

Paragraph one, translated by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter (1996) -
THE YEAR 1866 was marked by a bizarre development, an unexplained and downright inexplicable phenomenon that surely no one has forgotten. Without getting into those rumors that upset civilians in the seaports and deranged the public mind even far inland, it must be said that professional seamen were especially alarmed. Traders, shipowners, captains of vessels, skippers, and master mariners from Europe and America, naval officers from every country, and at their heels the various national governments on these two continents, were all extremely disturbed by the business.

Paragraph one, translated by William Butcher -
The year 1866 was marked by a strange event, an unexplained and inexplicable occurrence that doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Without mentioning the rumours which agitated the denizens of the ports and whipped up the public's imagination on every continent, seafaring men felt particularly disturbed. The merchants, shipowners, sea-captains, skippers, and master-mariners of Europe and America, the naval officers of every country, and eventually the various nationals governments on both continents--all became extremely worried about this matter.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHAT a difference! And who to trust?

From wikipedia:
"Many of Mercier's errors were corrected in a from-the-ground-up re-examination of the sources and an entirely new translation by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter."

So, the modern translation to seek is either the Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter edition, or the William Butcher edition, depending on your preference for the above excerpts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And here is how to find them:

USA - amazon.com

Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter
kindle edition ASIN: B004DNWRPQ
paper edition ISBN:1440414262

William Butcher
kindle edition ASIN: (appears to be unavailable at the moment)
paper edition ISBN: 0199539278

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UK - amazon.co.uk

Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter
kindle edition ASIN: B00BIFLLV8 or B00BSK24HI
paper edition ISBN: 1438446640

William Butcher
kindle edition ASIN: (appears to be unavailable at the moment)
paper edition ISBN: 0199539278
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2007
When I was a child I loved reading the stories of Julio Verne. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in 80 Days were my favorites. This new translation based on the original French texts is amazing, it moves quickly and I discovered things that I had never read in other English versions. You get more of Verne's politics here than in earlier translations including such memeorable phrases as: "The world needs no new continents, it needs new people."

The characters are well developed and you can indentify with all of them and how they view their effective captivity aboard the Nautilus. Captain Nemo is a wonderful character and Verne gives the reader just enough information about him to keep you enthralled but not enough to remove the mystery. The intro relates that Nemo was supposed to be a Polish aristocrat, getting back at the world for the the atrocities the Russians had commited against his family. But when Hetzel his publisher balked at the idea because of the new Franco Russian alliance Verne decided to remove any trace of nationality.

What else can be said? The English is not archaic!! This restored and annotated version, is a VAST improvement over previous English editions. The translation is very well done, and the annotations explain what has been changed and what previous translations accomplished. The wealth of background information also makes this one of the best English translations of this adventure I have ever read.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2003
Science fiction in most cases has a naturally short shelf life, as science advances and leaves the ideas contained in such books behind, often looking ridiculous and quaint. Therefore credit is due to Jules Verne for his major achievement in creating a timeless tale that still delights, years after submarines have become fairly commonplace, thousands upon thousands of people scuba dive as an every day sport and those that don't have the opportunity to witness the wonders of the deep thanks to the submersibles that take TV cameras down for countless exploration documentaries.
The authors excellent prose reads poetically and easily even after translation from it's original language, the translation in this issue is brilliantly done, and the fact that the original story was serialised means that uniform length chapters - each describing its own adventure - make for a pleasantly easy going read.
However, this is also the downfall of the book and the reason for only awarding it four stars. The chapter formula is repeated again and again and again, each one being slowed down by scientific lists of the species of life (fish, molluscs, seaweed) both in laymans terms and scientifically categrosied that appear too frequently throughout the novel. Whilst Vernes obvious enthusiasm for nature and science carry the reader along for the first half of the book, the repetitiveness of these lists not only began to bore me in the second half but added unnecessary weight to a book that I was ready to finish.
I wouldn't like to be too harsh, as it was originally intended for serialisation and thus the format is designed to be that way, but, unless you are particularly interested in reading long lists of fish (and if so I know a good fishmonger you can pester) then an abridged version of this book may enthrall you slightly more.
The characters, conseil, Ned Land, the author himself and of course the fantastic anti hero - Nemo, posess all the ingredients for a great story, and the Nautilus itself is still awe inspiring even in these days of nuclear subs and raising of (bits of) the Titanic.
There's no denying that this is a tour de force, and I highly recommend it, but be warned about the fish.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2010
Being new to the writings of Jules Verne, I had no idea what to expect, other than a fantasy story. Though I was greatly surprised. Set in the late 19th century, the story unfolds embracing the central characters both in relation to the time period and technological advances, as well as a heap of informative factual information. I couldn't put it down!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2014
IT'S Jules Verne that's the first reason to get this book and read it. Read this book when I was about 11 or 12 years old,that's a long while ago. Saw this book on free books for kindle, so decided to 're read it. Glad I did. As an adult can see that captain Nemo is or has become the thing he hates. And the three people rescued by captain Nemo ,change their views as the voyage progresses. Whilst as a youngster it was a boys own type of story. Showing Verne's amazing gift of insight ie nuclear powered submarine, scuba gear and a electric weapon that could be said to be a kind taser.The book is far better than the 1950s film. A good read for young and old in my humble opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2007
Jules Verne's chosen narrator writes passionately about the natural world, and his enthusiasm is easily communicated to the reader. Heading off originally on a mission to rid the ocean of a gigantic sea monster, the narrator Aronnax and his companions discover the redoubtable Captain Nemo and his submarine the Nautilus. On the subsequent voyage, Aronnax dwells with the most pleasure on the many varieties of marine life they encounter (and indeed, his manservant functions almost entirely to classify and name the different creatures, this being the majority of his conversation). Their fascination with everything they encounter is no less than inspiring, even with Ned Land as a homesick counterpoint to their delight. Their wonder and delight, throughout their adventures, is a joy to read.
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on 12 August 2015
The adventure part of this story is really good. The scientific knowledge and awe-inspiring adventures are excellent. However, other aspects of the novel fare less well with modern sensibilities and are a product of their time.

I only enjoy books if I am rooting for the characters. I have to like them and want them to succeed for there to be successful drama. Unfortunately I often found myself distanced from the characters in the novel. It's probably simplest to give some examples.

- One of the 'heroes' is a Canadian whaler, enjoying killing whales as an adventure and glorying in the details: "instead of one whale he harpooned two with a double blow, striking one right in the heart".

- Throughout the book the killing continues, as in this scene from the submarine forest when they make rare species even rarer. "It was a magnificent sea-otter ... This precious animal, hunted and tracked by fishermen, is becoming very rare, and it takes refuge principally in the northern parts of the Pacific, where it is likely that its race will soon become extinct. Captain Nemo’s companion took up the animal and threw it over his shoulders, and we continued our route."

- The narrator sees a rare and beautiful bird and immediately wants to take it out of its natural environment, even though that is the behaviour that makes teh animals rare in the first place. "I much wished to be able to take this superb specimen back to Paris, in order that I might make a present of it to the Jardin des Plantes, which does not possess a single living one." “Is it so rare, then?” asked the Canadian [...]" "Very rare, my brave companion [...]"

- What happens when they see knagaroos? Trhee guesses. "I think that in his delight the Canadian, if he had not talked so much, would have slaughtered the whole herd! But he contented himself with a dozen of these interesting marsupials [...] We were very much satisfied with the result of our hunt. The delighted Ned proposed to return the next day to this enchanted island, which he wanted to clear of all its edible quadrupeds."

- An underestimation of how delicate ecosystems can be: "this mine [oyster beds] was inexhaustible, for Nature’s creative power is far beyond man’s instinct of destruction." Erm, they were wrong.

- The characters hunt a dugong, "of colossal dimensions ... more than seven yards long". The Canadian: "His eyes shone with covetousness at the sight of the animal. His hand seemed ready to harpoon it." "It did not move, and seemed to be sleeping on the waves, which circumstance made it easier to capture." When it evaded their attacks: "Imagine the passion which excited impatient Ned Land! He hurled at the unfortunate creature the most energetic expletives in the English tongue. For my part, I was only vexed to see the dugong escape all our attacks." Hardly characters with nobility or compassion or any other such virtues.

- P217 The whalers were described as "worthy fellows" yet a few pages later they see whales "Knowing that these creatures, hunted to the death, had taken refuge in high latitudes."

- P222 A rare flash of understanding: "The Captain was right. The barbarous and inconsiderate greed of these fishermen will one day cause the disappearance of the last whale in the ocean." However they fail to apply the same standards to themselves.

- P227 "The captain told me that formerly numerous tribes of seals inhabited them; but that English and American whalers, in their rage for destruction, massacred both old and young; thus where there was once life and animation, they had left silence and death."

So he knows it is wrong, but still gives in to killing. That was before 1864. It's still going on now.

When they get to the South Pole there are many birds which have never seen men so are not afraid, and don’t run away. "they allowed themselves to be killed with a stone, never trying to escape." "Captain Nemo had some hundreds hunted." Also there are beautiful seals "looking at us with their soft eyes" yet his only thought is "I reckoned that there were provisions there for hundreds of vessels," even though later on the page he talks about seals’ grace, beautiful and expressive looks, poetic manners and intelligence. A novel of characters who covet all they see makes hard reading.

Still, I'd love my own Nautilus!
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on 30 July 2013
Today, reading a book about some people on a submarine may not evoke the startled sense of wonder that it must have in the 19th century. Nevertheless, when I read this book as a child, I loved it.

Even then I understood many of the deficiencies in the science and geography, being aware that Jules Verne didn't have access to the information we have today. It didn't bother me. I took it for what it was, an amazing story about amazing things and amazing people at an amazing time. Jules Verne was one of those amazing writers who could give you a dollop of education that you would never notice because you were so swept up in the adventure.

I have never re-read this book, so these days I'm much more familiar with the Walt Disney film. As much as I love that film, I wish they had dealt with more of the things that are in the novel. The first part of the book involves the search for whatever is destroying ships at sea. One thing I remember well is the proposed solution to the mystery of ships being destroyed. It was suspected to be a narwhal, a sort of whale with a huge unicorn-like horn, which one could imagine puttin a hole in a ship and sinking it. So it was perfectly natural that to investigate the destruction of ships at sea the authorities would send a marine biologist, Dr Arronax. But the cause of the attacks is a man-made one. Capt Nemo, a bit of a mad scientist with a view toward revenge, has somehow arranged for the construction of an amazing submarine. How could he construct such a thing without anyone in the world ever knowing anything about it? That's a question never tackled in works of this kind. (It's an especially interesting question for many of James Bond's enemies, who have built the most elaborate and amazing buildings, ships, underground lairs, and so on, without anyone ever noticing the incoming and outgoing of a huge amounts of raw materials and workers. Where do these evil geniuses get their materials from? Where do they hire their staff? Perhaps there's a recruitment agency somewhere specifically for henchmen.) Often in fiction the "how" has to be overlooked so that we can get on with the story. Captain Nemo has this power, he has this crew, and he has this ship, and he uses them too. Unlike a lot of classic villains, Capt Nemo is himself a sympathetic character. We feel his pain and sympathise with his plight. When Prof Arronax realises how evil Nemo is he decides to try and persuade him to turn back to the good side. And it seems just plausible. But it doesn't happen.

Among the things that happen in the book that the movie does not touch upon are a visit to the South Pole, a visit to Atlantis, and the Nautilus getting caught in a maelstrom.

This book is definitely the stuff that adventures are made of, and writers have been drawing on it for 150 years. (Shameless plug: it is also the inspiration for my short story, 20000 Yards Across the Frontier, which also forms a segment of my novel, Copout.) Jules Verne's masterpiece is the fuel for generations of aventurelust.

I recommend it highly. I probably should even read it again sometime soon.

A review by the author of Copout.
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There are three significant translations of this book, and amazon's lacklustre book-sorting system creates nothing but chaos when searching for the correct format / translation of this book. I'm here to help!

note: (find the version you are looking for with the ISBN numbers I've provided at the bottom of this review, you can just copy and paste them into the amazon search field and hit GO).

Here are excerpts from the three most common translations:

Paragraph one, translated by Mercier Lewis -
THE YEAR 1866 WAS signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumors which agitated the maritime population, and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the governments of several states on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter.

Paragraph one, translated by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter (1996) -
THE YEAR 1866 was marked by a bizarre development, an unexplained and downright inexplicable phenomenon that surely no one has forgotten. Without getting into those rumors that upset civilians in the seaports and deranged the public mind even far inland, it must be said that professional seamen were especially alarmed. Traders, shipowners, captains of vessels, skippers, and master mariners from Europe and America, naval officers from every country, and at their heels the various national governments on these two continents, were all extremely disturbed by the business.

Paragraph one, translated by William Butcher -
The year 1866 was marked by a strange event, an unexplained and inexplicable occurrence that doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Without mentioning the rumours which agitated the denizens of the ports and whipped up the public's imagination on every continent, seafaring men felt particularly disturbed. The merchants, shipowners, sea-captains, skippers, and master-mariners of Europe and America, the naval officers of every country, and eventually the various nationals governments on both continents--all became extremely worried about this matter.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHAT a difference! And who to trust?

From wikipedia:
"Many of Mercier's errors were corrected in a from-the-ground-up re-examination of the sources and an entirely new translation by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter."

So, the modern translation to seek is either the Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter edition, or the William Butcher edition, depending on your preference for the above excerpts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And here is how to find them:

USA - amazon.com

Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter
kindle edition ASIN: B004DNWRPQ
paper edition ISBN:1440414262

William Butcher
kindle edition ASIN: (appears to be unavailable at the moment)
paper edition ISBN: 0199539278

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UK - amazon.co.uk

Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter
kindle edition ASIN: B00BIFLLV8 or B00BSK24HI
paper edition ISBN: 1438446640

William Butcher
kindle edition ASIN: (appears to be unavailable at the moment)
paper edition ISBN: 0199539278
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
There are three significant translations of this book, and amazon's lacklustre book-sorting system creates nothing but chaos when searching for the correct format / translation of this book. I'm here to help!

note: (find the version you are looking for with the ISBN numbers I've provided at the bottom of this review, you can just copy and paste them into the amazon search field and hit GO).

Here are excerpts from the three most common translations:

Paragraph one, translated by Mercier Lewis -
THE YEAR 1866 WAS signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumors which agitated the maritime population, and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the governments of several states on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter.

Paragraph one, translated by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter (1996) -
THE YEAR 1866 was marked by a bizarre development, an unexplained and downright inexplicable phenomenon that surely no one has forgotten. Without getting into those rumors that upset civilians in the seaports and deranged the public mind even far inland, it must be said that professional seamen were especially alarmed. Traders, shipowners, captains of vessels, skippers, and master mariners from Europe and America, naval officers from every country, and at their heels the various national governments on these two continents, were all extremely disturbed by the business.

Paragraph one, translated by William Butcher -
The year 1866 was marked by a strange event, an unexplained and inexplicable occurrence that doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Without mentioning the rumours which agitated the denizens of the ports and whipped up the public's imagination on every continent, seafaring men felt particularly disturbed. The merchants, shipowners, sea-captains, skippers, and master-mariners of Europe and America, the naval officers of every country, and eventually the various nationals governments on both continents--all became extremely worried about this matter.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHAT a difference! And who to trust?

From wikipedia:
"Many of Mercier's errors were corrected in a from-the-ground-up re-examination of the sources and an entirely new translation by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter."

So, the modern translation to seek is either the Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter edition, or the William Butcher edition, depending on your preference for the above excerpts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And here is how to find them:

USA - amazon.com

Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter
kindle edition ASIN: B004DNWRPQ
paper edition ISBN:1440414262

William Butcher
kindle edition ASIN: (appears to be unavailable at the moment)
paper edition ISBN: 0199539278

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UK - amazon.co.uk

Walter James Miller / Frederick Paul Walter
kindle edition ASIN: B00BIFLLV8 or B00BSK24HI
paper edition ISBN: 1438446640

William Butcher
kindle edition ASIN: (appears to be unavailable at the moment)
paper edition ISBN: 0199539278
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
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