Author: Jules Verne
Country (language): France (French)
Published: 1864

Summary

The story is told through the eyes of a young German man named Axel as he, his uncle Professor Lidenbrock, and near-silent but strong Icelandic guide Hans, follow clues left by a previous explorer down a volcano and into the centre of the Earth.

Having found and decoded an old clue left by an Icelandic archeologist, Lidenbrock tears his nephew Axel away from his fiancee Grauben and takes him to Iceland. Here they hire the guide Hans to take them down an extinct volcano in search described in the clue. Although he trusts his uncle to be a brilliant man, Axel doesn’t really want to be there, and spends much of his time thinking of the girl he has left behind, and wondering whether he will stay alive and see her again.

As they venture deeper into the centre of the Earth, the trio lose contact with each other, then are reunited. They then find subterranean rivers, possible evidence of life, and then a large lake. As they cross the lake the discover that, despite being beneath the ground, there is weather. Finally, they find life. It is at this moment that they decide it is time to try and find a way to return to the surface.

Notes

The title of the book is also translated as ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ (with no ‘A’).

Some versions of the book change the professor’s name to Professor Von Hardwigg.

‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ was published just as the science of geology was becoming more widely known. Many of the geological ideas in the book were quite new at the time (many were based on a geological book published in the 1830s).

The book is made up of many short chapters (45).

Many of the recent films based on the book have tried to add more excitement to the story, with meetings and fights with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals.

Sample

We lay there, our blood running cold with unspeakable terror. The fireball, half of it white, half azure blue, and the size of a ten-inch shell, moved slowly about the raft, but revolving on its own axis with astonishing velocity, as if whipped round by the force of the whirlwind. Here it comes, there it glides, now it is up the ragged stump of the mast, thence it lightly leaps on the provision bag, descends with a light bound, and just skims the powder magazine.Horrible! we shall be blown up; but no, the dazzling disk of mysterious light nimbly leaps aside; it approaches Hans, who fixes his blue eye upon it steadily; it threatens the head of my uncle, who falls upon his knees with his head down to avoid it. And now my turn comes; pale and trembling under the blinding splendour and the melting heat, it drops at my feet, spinning silently round upon the deck; I try to move my foot away, but cannot.

A suffocating smell of nitrogen fills the air, it enters the throat,it fills the lungs. We suffer stifling pains.

Why am I unable to move my foot? Is it riveted to the planks? Alas!the fall upon our fated raft of this electric globe has magnetised every iron article on board. The instruments, the tools, our guns,are clashing and clanking violently in their collisions with each other; the nails of my boots cling tenaciously to a plate of iron let into the timbers, and I cannot draw my foot away from the spot. At last by a violent effort I release myself at the instant when the ball in its gyrations was about to seize upon it, and carry me off my feet ….

Ah! what a flood of intense and dazzling light! the globe has burst,and we are deluged with tongues of fire!

Then all the light disappears. I could just see my uncle at full length on the raft, and Hans still at his helm and spitting fire under the action of the electricity which has saturated him.

But where are we going to? Where?

Review

Although much of the geological science of the book has since been proven to be incorrect, the fantasy of exploring the centre of the Earth still appeals to many people.