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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - review

I have meant to read some Verne since I was a child but never had the time.
I recently finished consuming the Librivox recording of a translation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and I was interested in many aspects of the books.

First I found it interesting that the narrative flips in its method of measurements repeatedly, and does so in the same passages. It will use metric and imperial measurements. I found this mildly annoying and contemplated whether or not it was a translation issue or whether the author originally wrote the manuscript in mixed units (and, if so, for what purpose).

Like other works of science fiction this one makes predictions that prove completely untrue.
For example, The Nautilus travels to the South Pole. We now know this to be completely impossible and we also know that what it finds there to be completely unreasonably predicted. I find myself wondering what Verne was thinking in making such an off prediction for what would be at the pole itself.

This work is also greatly disjointed when it is littered with great listings of sea life. It is as though Verne were doing a masturbatory exercise in outlining his own aquatic life knowledge.

I also found that the character of Consile was completely and totally superfluous. He added nothing to the narrative and the entire story could have been written with the minor contributions of this character having been pushed to the main speaker or Ned Land. However; I did find it interesting that Consile meets many of the characteristics of a savant autistic in many ways. This makes me wonder if there are other examples of characters within older fiction who would meet such a diagnosis.

I also found it fascinating that the phrase "tricked out" was used to describe the way some particular fish were colored. This vernacular is a phrase I thought was relatively recent in its usage but I was obviously mistaken.

Critiques aside, this is a valuable piece of work for literature and science fiction fans to consume as it lays a foundation for all of the works that have come since.

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