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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Paperback – March 26, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 604 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-8-Performed in radio theatre style, this audio version is a fine retelling of the Jules Verne classic. The St. Charles Players, composed of four actors, play a variety of roles with hammy gusto, although the dialogue is a bit rushed in the opening sections. This adaptation by Jeff Rack does a good job of capturing the feel of Verne's sprawling epic tale. The story is told by Professor Aronnax, who agrees to investigate a series of attacks by a mysterious sea monster. He joins the crew of the ship Abraham Lincoln. The men encounter what they believe is the monster, but turns out to be a large, state-of-the-art submarine, the Nautilus. Aronnax and a hot tempered harpoonist, Ned Land, are imprisoned on this vessel, captained by the misanthropic recluse, Nemo. Nemo takes them around the world. Verne's descriptions of the underwater world, with its exotic creatures and sunken ships, shine thanks to clear narration and evocative sound effects. As the journey continues, becoming monotonous, the program's midsection sags a bit. It picks up steam again with sequences involving a monstrous octopus and a storm. While not an essential purchase, this is an impressive attempt to adapt a classic.

Brian E. Wilson, Oak Lawn Public Library, IL

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

Novel by Jules Verne, first published in French as Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers in 1869-70. It is perhaps the most popular book of his science-fiction series Voyages extraordinaires (1863-1910). Professor Pierre Aronnax, the narrator of the story, boards an American frigate commissioned to investigate a rash of attacks on international shipping by what is thought to be an amphibious monster. The supposed sea creature, which is actually the submarine Nautilus, sinks Aronnax's vessel and imprisons him along with his devoted servant Conseil and Ned Land, a temperamental harpooner. The survivors meet Captain Nemo, an enigmatic misanthrope who leads them on a worldwide, yearlong underwater adventure. The novel is noted for its exotic situations, the technological innovations it describes, and the tense interplay of the three captives and Nemo (who reappears in The Mysterious Island). --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 03 - 07
  • Lexile Measure: 1030 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Wilder Publications (March 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160459649X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604596496
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (604 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,370,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are three significant translations of this book, and amazon's lacklustre book-sorting system creates nothing but chaos when searching for the correct format / translation of this book. I'm here to help!

note: (find the version you are looking for with the ISBN numbers I've provided at the bottom of this review, you can just copy and paste them into the amazon search field and hit GO).

Here are excerpts from the three most common translations:

Paragraph one, translated by Mercier Lewis -
THE YEAR 1866 WAS signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumors which agitated the maritime population, and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the governments of several states on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter.

Paragraph one, translated by Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter (1996) -
THE YEAR 1866 was marked by a bizarre development, an unexplained and downright inexplicable phenomenon that surely no one has forgotten. Without getting into those rumors that upset civilians in the seaports and deranged the public mind even far inland, it must be said that professional seamen were especially alarmed. Traders, shipowners, captains of vessels, skippers, and master mariners from Europe and America, naval officers from every country, and at their heels the various national governments on these two continents, were all extremely disturbed by the business.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A sorry example of the laziness and irresponsibility of many trade editors today -- and it's especially shameful in a publication targeted to students and youngsters.

First, the basic text is dreadful: though unidentified, it's the long-discredited translation signed by "Mercier Lewis" and rushed into print in 1872 by the London firm of Sampson, Low. As modern scholars have documented on numerous occasions, Verne's original French was politically censored, drastically abridged, couched in stilted Victorian prose, and riddled with hundreds of inane translating errors. Its clunky, antiquated English is something no American student could possibly enjoy ("I own my heart beat," says the narrator, who actually means, "I admit my heart was pounding"). As for the translating blunders, some are asinine beyond belief -- Verne's characters start a fire with a lentil (Verne: lens) . . . loosen bolts with a key (Verne: wrench) . . . and claim iron is lighter than water (Verne: the opposite, of course).

Are these obscure facts? Anything but. Over the past four decades, this translation's inadequacy has been bemoaned repeatedly in basic reference works (Taves & Michaluk's JULES VERNE ENCYCLOPEDIA), online (the Jules Verne Forum at jv.gilead.org.il), and in readily available MODERN translations of this novel (e.g., the paperback editions from Signet, Oxford, and the U.S. Naval Institute).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're going to read one of the great classics of literature-and you should-don't pick up this edition. It is a reprint of a version that dates back to the 1870s and was exposed more than 40 years ago for cutting nearly one-quarter of Verne's story and mistranslating much of the remainder. Its reappearance in this edition is all the more amazing considering Tor's status as a leading science fiction publisher, and the company's willingness to perpetrate this fraud on is many readers is truly stunning. If you want to truly get to know Verne's novel, pick up the elegant Naval Institute Press edition, in a modern, complete, updated translation, with commentary by the leading American Verne expert today, Walter James Miller. That book also comes with many of the artistic engravings that illustrated the original French first edition (no illustrations are to be found in the B&N Mercier reprint). Less attractive but more academic is the Oxford Classics version of Twenty Thousand Leagues. This review is posted on behalf of the North American Jules Verne Society by Jean-Michel Margot, president NAJVS.
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Format: Paperback
Most of Jules Verne's works were hastily translated, with many "improvements" made in the process, such as deletion of scientific exposition, as well as deletion of many moments deemed by the translator as dull.
This, the Restored and Annotated version of 20,000 leagues, is a VAST improvement over previous English editions. The translation is very well done, and the annotations explain what has been changed and what previous translations accomplished.
Highly recommended!
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