I was first introduced to this novel as a young girl via Illustrated Classics and the Disney film. Immediately, something about this world that exists alongside our own fascinated me, and I set about consuming all I could on the subject. So, I thought this summer might be a good time to reread “20,000 Leagues” to see if it holds up.
In answer to that question, I certainly think so. In fact, “20,000 Leagues” is easily my favorite of Jules Verne’s novels. The imagery, which is so important in a sci-fi fantasy book, was fantastic. My favorite three images of the novel are of the people on board a sinking ship, the giant pearl that Captain Nemo guards and cultivates, and the slow reveal that the Nautilus has come upon Atlantis. Most importantly, though, with a book of this genre, is that it spurs on my imagination, and lets my mind dwell in the places that the characters visit. There is also so much mystery around Captain Nemo that I love to think about, which is vital for his sort of character. As for the main character of the novel, he’s so unremarkable that I can’t remember his name, but that does allow the reader to use him as an avatar. Ned Land is a fun side character, if not a bit wild. You should be warned, however, that, this being a 19th-century adventure novel, the characters do come upon indigenous peoples at some point, and they are not referred to in the best of ways, though not quite at a Joseph Conrad level of imperialism. The moment is, blissfully, only a few chapters long, but still, a bit troubling, so just be aware of that if such subject manner is particularly annoying to you. I won’t blame you.
Availability: SMCM, COSMOS, and USMAI
Review Submitted by: Kimberly Boenig
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: A translated book; book to film