The book: In 1864, the Confederate States Navy Huntley became the first submarine to sink a military vessel. Within a few years, most of the major navies of the world, including the French and British Navies, were experimenting with submarines. In this atmosphere of militarization of the ocean’s depths, Jules Verne wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a novel about an advanced submarine that had great potential as a weapon, but was mainly used for exploration and science. The ship, and its enigmatic owner Captain Nemo, have become so well known in popular culture that it is worthwhile going back to the source to understand what their creator was trying to convey through their story.
As someone who first encountered the Nautilus through reruns of the 1954 Disney movie and the Disney World ride, I found the whole book to be a bit dry. Yes, there are some exciting parts like the voyage to Atlantis, the encounter with island natives, and the “devilfish” attack, but much of the book reads like a travelogue, with lists of destinations and types of fish seen there. Presumably this was more exciting in Verne’s mind, exasperated as he was by politics and failed revolutions. Verne’s novel encapsulates the fantasy of being able to escape the surface world and embrace the mysterious life of the ocean.
Rating: 7 / 10
The reader: I’ve commented many times on Kistner’s reading. It’s good without being outstanding. He does seem to rush his speech at times, but that is something the ear can adjust to within about 15 minutes. The recording is clear and well-produced. I recommend using the iTunes link for downloading even if you’re not using an Apple device.
Buy a paperback copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea