20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

by Judith Conaway, Jules Verne

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Overview

In this 1870 science-fiction classic, obsessed Captain Nemo and his prisoners descend beneath the sea in his secret submarine, the Nautilus, for nonstop adventure and suspense.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780394853338
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/28/1983
Series: A Stepping Stone Book(TM) Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 350,873
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.56(h) x 0.24(d)
Lexile: 440L (what's this?)
Age Range: 6 - 9 Years

About the Author

Judith Conaway is a writer, designer, and illustrator of children’s books and educational materials. She has written activity and puzzle books as well as Stepping Stone books for Random House Books for Young Readers, including Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.

Jules Verne was born in France in 1828 and died in 1905. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel was wildly successful, producing many brilliant novels in the burgeoning genre of science fiction: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Around the World in 80 Days, among others. Verne is the second most translated author in the world, after Agatha Christie and before Shakespeare.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Shifting Reef

The year 1866 was marked by a strange event, an unexplainable occurrence which is undoubtedly still fresh in everyone's memory. Those living in coastal towns or in the interior of continents were aroused by all sorts of rumors; but it was seafaring people who were particularly excited. Merchants, shipowners, skippers and masters of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries and the various governments of both continents were deeply concerned over the matter.

Several ships had recently met at sea “an enormous thing,” a long slender object which was sometimes phosphorescent and which was infinitely larger and faster than a whale.

The facts concerning this apparition, entered in various logbooks, agreed closely with one another as to the structure of the object or creature in question, the incredible speed of its movements, the surprising power of its locomotion and the strange life with which it seemed endowed. If it was a member of the whale family, it was larger than any so far classified by scientists. Neither Cuvier, Lacépède, Dumeril nor Quatrefages would have admitted that such a monster could exist--unless they had seen it with their own scientists' eyes.

Taking an average of observations made at different times'and rejecting those timid evaluations which said the object was only two hundred feet long, and also putting aside those exaggerated opinions which said it was a mile wide and three miles long'one could nevertheless conclude that this phenomenal creature was considerably larger than anything at that time recognized by ichthyologists'if it existed at all.

But it didexist--there was no denying this fact any longer--and considering the natural inclination of the human brain toward objects of wonder, one can understand the excitement produced throughout the world by this supernatural apparition. In any case, the idea of putting it into the realm of fiction had to be abandoned.

On July 20, 1866, the steamer Governor Higginson of the Calcutta and Burnach Steam Navigation Company had encountered this moving mass five miles east of the Australian coast. Captain Baker first thought he had sighted an unknown reef; he was even getting ready to plot its exact position when two columns of water spurted out of the inexplicable object and rose with a loud whistling noise to a height of a hundred and fifty feet. So, unless the reef contained a geyser, the Governor Higginson was quite simply in the presence of an unknown aquatic mammal, spurting columns of water mixed with air and vapor out of its blowholes.

A similar thing was observed on July 23 of the same year in Pacific waters, by the Christopher Columbus of the West India and Pacific Steam Navigation Company. This extraordinary creature could therefore move from one place to another with surprising speed, since within a space of only three days, the Governor Higginson and the Christopher Columbus had sighted it at two points on the globe separated by more than 2100 nautical miles.

Two weeks later and six thousand miles from this last spot, the Helvetia of the Compagnie Nationale and the Shannon of the Royal Mail Steamship Company, passing on opposite courses in that part of the Atlantic lying between the United States and Europe, signaled one another that they had sighted the monster at 42° 15' N. Lat. and 60° 35' W. Long. In this simultaneous observation they felt able to judge the creature's minimum length at more than 350 feet, since it was larger than both ships each of which measured 330 feet over-all. But the largest whales, the Kulammak and Umgullick that live in the waters around the Aleutian Islands, never exceed 180 feet in length, if that much.

These reports arriving one after the other, with fresh observations made on board the liner Le Pereire, a collision between the Etna of the Inman Line and the monster, an official report drawn up by the officers of the French frigate Normandie, and a very reliable sighting made by Commodore Fitz-James' staff on board the Lord Clyde, greatly stirred public opinion. In lighthearted countries, people made jokes about it, but in serious practical-minded countries, such as England, America and Germany, it was a matter of grave concern.

In every big city the monster became the fashion: it was sung in cafés, derided in newspapers and discussed on the stage. Scandal sheets had a marvelous opportunity to print all kinds of wild stories. Even ordinary newspapers--always short of copy--printed articles about every huge, imaginary monster one could think of, from the white whale, the terrible “Moby Dick” of the far north, to the legendary Norse kraken whose tentacles could entwine a five-hundred-ton ship and drag it to the bottom. Reports of ancient times were mentioned, the opinions of Aristotle and Pliny who admitted to the existence of such monsters, along with those of the Norwegian bishop, Pontoppidan, Paul Heggede and finally Mr. Harrington, whose good faith no one can question when he claims to have seen, while on board the Castillan in 1857, that enormous serpent which until then had been seen in no waters but those of the old Paris newspaper, the Constitutionnel.

It was then that in scientific societies and journals an interminable argument broke out between those who believed in the monster and those who did not. The “question of the monster” had everyone aroused. Newspapermen, who always pretend to be on the side of scientists and against those who live by their imagination, spilled gallons of ink during this memorable campaign; and some even spilled two or three drops of blood, after arguments that had started over sea serpents and ended in the most violent personal insults.

For six months this war was waged with varying fortune. Serious, weighty articles were published by the Brazilian Geographical Institute, the Royal Scientific Academy of Berlin, the British Association and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington; others appeared in the Indian Archipelago, in Abbé Moigno's Cosmos, in Petermann's Mittheilungen and in the science sections of all the important newspapers of France and other countries.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Copyright © by Jules Verne. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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20,000 Leagues under the Sea 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To me this was one of the best book's I have ever read.Jules Vern was a very good author,with very good idea's. This book was just pure genius.The way he thought of the squid was just pure imagination if nothing less.
icarmi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The professor is stuck on a weird ship in the middle of the ocean, how will he get out?. This book is good for people who like Scifi. This book was fun to read because it had lots of adventures in it. I think that the professor will help reborn the idea of a submarine.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great for someone who likes the ocean and likes fish. It is about a man Called Commander Farragut. Commander Farragut in a submarine adown in the ocean. He is down there to catch a animal that lives in the ocean. You have to read the book to find out the creature's name and to find out if they catch the creature. I hope you like the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like adventure books, struggle through this one. It's a must-read for anyone who enjoys the classics. I will admit there were some times when it dragged, and some times when it dragged quite a bit, especially when he endlessly described the flora and fauna of undersea life (you almost have to read "The Origin of Species" along with it) but it really was interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read.It has excellent plot and you won't want to put it down
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was great!