Following the set of H. G. Wells pocket books released earlier this year, Macmillan has released three Jules Verne novels under its Collector’s Library range. Along with Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, both released with this title, Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of the most recognised of the Jules Verne novels, first released in 1864.
This edition is a slender pocket book running to over 330 pages, with gold trim and patterned front endpaper (the pretty picture inside the cover!), and reproduces dozens of original Édouard Riou illustrations. The text is complete and unabridged, and is followed with a short afterword from Ned Halley given some historic context for the story and the life of Jules Verne. It is adapted from the 1877 translation by Lancashire clergyman Frederick Amadeus Malleson.
The story has been much filmed and imitated, but here is the original translation of the French masterpiece. We follow the quest for knowledge as Professor Otto Liedebrook and his team make their way through the Earth’s innards on the route originally charted by Arne Saknussemm, facing all kinds of threats, discovering new underground rivers and exploring the most fantastic of worlds before being shot out through a volcano.
The text is as fresh as ever, and where H. G. Wells concentrated on science and character, Verne’s writing is more focussed on adventure and entertainment. Re-reading Journey to the Centre of the Earth shows Verne’s writing at its most imaginative; other titles may be more noted for their influence on the emergence of steampunk, but this is pure storytelling, every chapter conjuring images in the imagination like few other stories have ever managed.
It’s a classic story that stands the test of time, and deserves to be in any collection. If you’ve not read this for some time (be it decades or even ever?!) now might be the time to treat yourself.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH / AUTHOR: JULES VERNE / PUBLISHER: MACMILLAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW