203 of 215 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2005
Yes there are different versions, The best one is the original in French. There are more than one translations into english, one with the Main character's name as Harry, the other as Axel.
I read the 'Harry' version first, but only partway through as it was terrible! I thought Verne was a bad writter or something. But, when I was older, I found another copy (Puffin Classics btw), and I thought I'd give it another go. That was one of the best books I had ever read, it funny and imaginative. The characters even had character!
Well, I looked into it, and compared my new version with the first book I had read and both of them with the original. Mine was pretty close. The names were kept the same, most of the sentences were similar in structure (so that someone like me who can't read french could tell that they were the same book).
The 'Harry version' however, invented entire chapters out of thin air, discarded others and changed significant plot points. I hope this helps some of you decide which one to get, and that there is more than one translation.
If the book starts with:
"ON 24 May 1863, a Sunday, my uncle, Professor Lidenbrock, came rushing back towards his little house at No.19 Konigstrasse, one of the oldest streets..."
You know you have the good version.
Otherwise, I love this book and would recomend it to anyone, whether a science fiction fan or not.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 1999
This is a classic novel by Jules Verne. In the story, Professor Hardwigg and his nephew Harry discover an ancient parchment by an alchemist named Arne Saknussemm. They travel to Iceland and climb an extinct volcano called Sneffels. With them is the Icelandic hunter Hans. They journey into the center of the earth, in which Harry gets lost. They come upon and ocean and cross it. While they are on the sea they witness a battle of ancient sea monsters. Eventually they are thrown out of a volcano on Stromboli, an island in Italy. This was a wonderful book, but sometimes it went into too much detail. Still, a classic five star book. I don't see why anyone would give it 4 1/2 stars. It is simply absurd. I recommened this book to anyone with a good imagination.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This Penguin/Puffin Classics translation (by Robert Baldick) of Verne's wonderful book is absolutely terrific. It is accurate and fun to read. (Sample it to see for yourself.)
Any true translation (such as in this Puffin Classic) rightly identifies the professor as "Lidenbrock" or "Liedenbrock" NOT as "Hardwigg," and his young partner as "Axel" NOT "Harry." (That is how you can easily distinguish the real vs. a false, anonymous translation that, sadly, is still being sold as if it were the real thing; it isn't even a translation but a total rewrite with different names and numerous plot alterations.) This Baldick translation comes as close (in English) to what Verne actually wrote (in French) to tell his story. The old F.A. Malleson translation also gets it right, but in modern times two translations stand out: one by Robert Baldick (this one) and one by William Butcher. They are both good, the difference mainly being a matter of style. Some prefer Butcher; I happen to prefer Baldick.
Don't let the fact that Baldick's translation here appears in a children's imprint deter you from considering it; this is not a simplified "kiddy" version. It appeared first in 1965 as an adult Penguin book, and twenty years later (unchanged) as a Puffin book, and now as an ebook. Butcher's is more recent and, as he is a noted Verne scholar, his credentials certainly carry weight. But that doesn't make him a better wordsmith. We read Verne primarily for fun and for the thrill of adventure. Baldick's translation enables us to do just that.
I highly recommend Baldick's translation in this Puffin edition to anyone, child or adult. By all means sample it to see for yourself, especially since the low price (as I write this, a mere $.99) is remarkably enticing for a copyrighted, modern translaton rather than an old, public domain one. But whichever edition of this wonderful novel you may be considering for purchase, and no matter who translates it, give it the Lidenbrock & Axel (READ it) vs. Hardwigg & Harry (AVOID it) test to be certain you are reading the actual story Verne intended.
UPDATE: The price has risen since the above was written. Although it is not the great bargain it once was, it is still fairly-priced, and the translation remains superb. Nevertheless, you may now wish to consider, instead, the aforementoned, sound, older translation by Malleson; this may be obtained as a public domain freebie in the Kindle store by searching under: "Voyage au centre de la terre. English." (The OTHER public domain freebie version under "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" is the FALSE one to be avoided.)
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This book proves Verne's greatness as a writer of fiction. The science in this science fiction flies largely in the face of modern science, yet the read is no less gripping today than it was in its infancy. The story is pretty simple. Professor Lidenbrock, a neurotically impatient scientist, discovers a cryptic manuscript written by a long-dead explorer; with the help of his nephew, he decodes the cryptogram to read an account of a journey to the center of the earth begun beneath a dormant volcano in Iceland. The nephew, Axel, a talented geologist and mineralogist himself, refuses to believe that the core of the earth is not exceedingly hot; additionally, he cares more about Grauben, the eccentric professor's ward, than risking his life on a scientific adventure. He proves unable to dissuade his uncle and thus joins with him on a journey to Iceland. There, they hire a stoic Icelander to lead them down into the earth. Most of the action takes place underground, with the adventurers suffering several trials, daring risks, and finally discovering a whole new world hidden miles below the earth's crust. The ultimate trial and danger they face consists of returning to the surface.
Axel narrates the story, and the strength of the novel lies in his character. The professor and the Icelandic guide are unusual personalities, but Axel is very real and easy to relate to. He really does not want to go in the first place, and he is most liable to greet dangers and risks by bemoaning his fate and declaring his party done for in their foolish efforts. It is he who suffers the most privation when the men's water runs out, and it is he who finds himself lost in the utter blackness of the caverns for three days. When things are going well, though, Axel becomes wildly excited about the mission and temporarily forgets about his fears. This all goes to make him a very sympathetic character. Without him, the story would be a rather dispassionate account of an impossible journey by bland, unbelievable characters. You do have to shift your mind into low gear a few times when the characters begin speaking about the different types of minerals and rocks they are encountering, but overall the plot is rather thrilling, and you cannot help but begin early on trying to ascertain a way in which the intrepid explorers can return to share their discoveries with a skeptical scientific community. Verne knows how to tell a story, and you don't have to know a single thing about science to enjoy this novel immensely.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2009
This is a wonderful book by Jules Verne but this is just a terrible translation. Just read the first page of the preview and you will see. e.g. "Our good Martha could not but think she was very much behind-hand with the dinner" Is that even English? Seek out William Butcher's wonderful translation of this great story by Verne.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2002
This is an exiting book full of adventure. It is about three people named Hans, Professer Hardwigg and his nephew Harry. The story takes place when Professer Hardwigg discovers a piece of parchment with the name of a famous explorer that went to the center of the Earth. Professer Hardwigg wants to do the same. They climb in to Mt.Sneffles with a guide named Hans. They have lots of adventures with prehistoric animals and travel in places you wouldn't even expect. The ending is very exiting but you will have to read it to find out. I recomend this book to people who like adventure stories. I think it is a great book .
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2009
This is some sort of re-write, perhaps for American audiences? It's not nearly as good writing as the original. Get the original for free at [...]. The version I am reading was published in 1906.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2000
Everyone should read some Jules Vernes. A late 19th century French writer, he influenced many people with his enthusiasm for things scientific. In Voyage, the protagonists are a scientist (who discovers a message indicating a journey to the center of the earth is possible), his reluctant nephew, and the quiet-man native guide. An expedition is organized immediately, and the adventure begins. Once you get past the writing style which may be strange to the modern reader, and you suspend your disbelief on certain things (like just how many supplies they were capable of carrying), the tale can captivate. Here is a writer who relishes the scientific advances and discoveries of his age, and is writing about them. The reader can absorb the geologic understandings of the period, as well as the way in which the scientific community operated. It is the age of the gentleman scientist, the ancestor to Indiana Jones. And Verne's delight is infectious. By modern standards it's less exciting than, say, a Jurassic Park. But there's underground seas, strange animals and plants, delirious visions, and hardships of thirst and being lost in the dark to entertain you. Be aware of different translations: our book group had much hilarity discovering the differences in our editions: some seemed edited and condensed compared to the others (and as it's not copyright protected, some of our tattered paperbacks didn't even give the original date or the translator's name), some had wonderful illustrations, some had illustrations that apparently were for a different book, and some had none. Some editions had footnotes, which were interesting in their own way, apparently dating from the original French. There are even different names for the uncle and nephew. Judging from my translation (one of the uncredited ones), it's no great literary effort. But it's entertaining enough to keep one reading, and to amazed at this seminal storyteller and his influences on many who followed him.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2011
I've just recently found out about the different translations of this book. The Sterling Classic is the "good" translation. Wanted to let those interested know since at this time anyway, the 'look inside' feature isn't available for this book.
Here's link to the Jules Verne Society with more information on the translations!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2005
Jules Verne is definitely the father and master of science fiction. In this book, he chronicles the adventures of a German professor, his nephew, and an Icelandic guide into the depths of the earth. When I read it, it was very different from what I expected. Having been exposed to various film and television versions of this story, I imagined some sort of drilling machine was involved. Also, I had thought that there was some interaction with primitive tribes in the underground realm.
On reading this book, you'll discover a very different story. The professor buys and old book, and finds an ancient manuscript written by a famous alchemist in which the alchemist claims to have journeyed to the center of the Earth. The professor inspired by this claim rushes to Iceland to retrace the alchemist's footsteps. He drags his reluctant nephew along with him, and hires a guide in Iceland. These three men proceed to walk into the crater of a volcano, and they follow the empty lava tubes into the depths of the Earth. This is more of a survival story than anything else. They face shortages of food, water, light, and more. Verne really knows how to keep a story moving. For adventure fans, this is a great book to read!