- Age Range: 10 - 13 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 8
- Lexile Measure: 490 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover Thrift Editions edition (March 4, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486440885
- ISBN-13: 978-0486440880
- Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (446 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Journey to the Center of the Earth (Dover Thrift Editions) Dover Thrift Editions Edition
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"The reason Verne is still read by millions today
is simply that he was one of the best storytellers
who ever lived."--Arthur C. Clarke
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.) Of course, readers must make allowances for the book's old-fashioned content and style, and inevitably some (unable to do so) may feel it is too descriptive or that the plot advances too slowly. Hopefully others will find it quaint but exciting, its fabulous descriptions to be marveled at as they vicariously travel with the main characters on a once-in-a-lifetime journey deep inside the earth. Fanciful? Yes. Fun? Definitely. Memorable? Forever.
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 an adaptation, a total rewrite with different names of characters and numerous plot alterations. The extent of the problem and confusion becomes obvious when one reads the many reviews associated with this and other editions of this title; notice how many refer to Hardwigg and Harry. Sadly, these people, praising the bogus version as if it were Verne's, have not read the real thing. Don't YOU be fooled.
This very sound 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 particularly stand out: this one by Robert Baldick 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 necessarily 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, especially since its relatively low price 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.
ADDENDUM: The price of this Puffin edition has steadily climbed (it had once been as low as $.99), and my above reference to its "relatively low price" may no longer apply. If price is an issue, you may wish to consider the aforementoned, sound, older translation by F. A. Malleson; it can be obtained as a public domain freebie in the Kindle store by searching under: "free books verne voyage au centre de la terre. English." (The OTHER public domain freebie version is under "free books verne journey to the center of the earth" and is the FALSE one. If you wish, download both freebies and compare; the differences are obvious right at the onset.)
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.