Discussion Forums - Classic Literature

Topic: Journey to the Center of the Earth

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Journey to the Center of the Earth
Date Posted: 7/20/2009 12:02 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
Back To Top

Greetings All!

I hope everyone enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth as much as I did. The beginning of the book was set at a leisurely pace that I found a little difficult to get into. Eventually, the book picked up and I raced to finish it. Even though much of the scientific theories are considered not current with today's belief it was fun to read what the scientific thoughts were back in the 1860s. Verne and his publisher called his stories Speculative Fiction and was considered a precursor to Science Fiction. I think that speculative fiction is a fitting genre for the story. I wanted to bring up three things that I thought would be interesting to get other people's perspective on and please feel free to share your thoughts on anything else. Also I apologize but this is my first time leading a discussion. The first thing I thought was interesting was that I am not completely sure the Axel/Harry truly benefited from the trip. Did you notice any real changes with him? The second point is that Hans get his pay every week. At first I couldn't figure out what the big deal was about the guide getting paid. The only reason I could come up with is that this was a device that Verne used to show how much time passed. Lastly, what was the most significant or meaningful part of the book for you the reader. Mine was when Axel/Harry was lost and in the dark trying to find his Uncle the Prof.

Date Posted: 7/20/2009 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
Back To Top

Actually, JTCOE was kind of a let down for me.  It didn't have the charm of Around the World in 80 Days, which I read earlier this year, and didn't have any of the eerie foreshadowing of some other works, like The Island of Dr. Moreau.  The nephew was an annoying narrator to stick with through the whole story.  I agree that he didn't seem to learn anything.  Also a lot of the scientific discussions that Axel and the professor get into (which I read Verne used to acquaint layreaders with geological background) was pretty tedious.

Classics, espcially in a genre like science fiction, only hold up if they have some universal appeal or message.  For me, JTCOE was lacking both of those.  Unlike Around the World in 80 Days, the characters were either unlikable or inscrutable, and there was very little humor.  So it didn't hold up as entertainment.  And unlike Frankenstein or The Island of Dr. Moreau which both have timeless messages about hubris, accountability, bioethics, etc. whatever message about human nature there was in JTCOE has either lost its punch or was never very strong to begin with. 

It wouldn't stop me from reading more Jules Verne, but Journey wasn't a 'classic' for me.  Although I did like the part where they were crossing the underground ocean.

Date Posted: 7/20/2009 4:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

I liked this book, the first book I’ve read by Verne. A simple story written at a time when exploration to other lands was very popular. I would categorize it as an adventure story. I did like the “antique” language and the subtle humor.

 

Michael, if there was any significance to Hans being paid, what you wrote is likely correct – a way to show the passing of time.

 

Vanessa – I enjoyed the crossing of the underground ocean section also.

 

I believe there was a universal message in Journey to the Center of the Earth – to search deeper into yourself, remain true to your life’s path. Don’t be dissuaded by naysayers. A message to humanity to continue scientific exploration . . . that there is so much more out there that is still undiscovered.  

 

My book had a couple of paragraphs at the end about Verne and the novel. Verne wrote over 80 books! Also, there was a reference to his trio of characters representing the mind, the body, and the soul. I see a few tangible links but haven’t quite wrapped my mind around the characters in that way. Did anyone interpret the novel/characters in that way?

Date Posted: 7/20/2009 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
Back To Top

Sheila, great post.

I knew their had to be some significance to the triumvirate of Hans, Axel and the Prof. However, I could not figure it out what it would be. I like the reference to the mind body and spirit. The underground ocean crossing was a favorite of mine as well.  

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 7/21/2009 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
Back To Top

My 9yr old just finished the Illustrated Classics version of this book today. She told me it was her favorite book. 

Date Posted: 7/22/2009 3:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

Polbio - I believe my 10 yr old son would also like this story also. Thanks for telling us about her experience.