Thumbs down for 20,000 Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne, translated by Anthony Bonner. Science fiction.
There’s a reason why Verne is always abridged. (Yes, the edition you read and kind of liked was almost definitely abridged; it just didn’t say so.) Well, I sought out and read the full version, and good God is it unreadable. Though each page is fine on its own, put them together and it’s absolutely one of the most boring books I’ve ever read. There were several instances on which I snoozed out over lunch while dredging my way through Verne’s ludicrously tedious and pointless info-dumps as he describes EVERY SINGLE FISH seen by the main character, or EVERY SINGLE EXPLORER ever to sight a given island, or EVERY SINGLE COURSE CHANGE made by the Nautilus, with coordinates just in case we’ve got Google Earth booted up to follow along. What little tension the plot has is generated by the understandable desire of the three captured gentlemen to escape their imprisonment aboard the submarine; unfortunately, their escape attempts consist of repeated discussions of “if we are close enough to land, and if there is good weather, we’ll make a break for it,” and then (surprisingly enough) one or the other of these things fails to be true, aborting their attempt before it’s even conceived. I would rather snap one of my pinky toes than read any more Jules Verne.
Then Captain Nemo put his hand hand on my shoulder and said: “In 1600, the Dutchman Gheritk, carried off his course by currents and storms, reached 64° S. Lat. and discovered the South Shetland Islands. On January 17, 1773, the famous Cook, following the thirty-eighth meridian, reached a latitude of 67° 30′, and on January 30, 1774, following the hundred-and-ninth meridian, he reached a latitude of 71° 15’. In 1819, the Russian Bellinghausen got to the sixty-ninth parallel, and in 1821 to the sixty-sixth at 111° W. Long. In 1820, the Englishman Brunsﬁeld was stopped at the sixty-ﬁfth parallel. That same year, the American Morrel, whose accounts are doubtful, went along the forty-second meridian and discovered open sea at 70° 14′ S. Lat. In 1825, the Englishman Powell could get no farther than the sixty-second parallel. But that same year an Englishman named Weddel who was a mere seal fisherman got as far as 72° 14′ S. Lat. along the thirty-fifth meridian, and as far as 74° 15′ on the thirty-sixth. In 1829, the Englishman Forster, captain of the Chanticleer, took possession of the Antarctic continent at 63° 26′ S. Lat. and 66° 26′ W. Long. On February 1, 1831, the Englishman Biscoe discovered Enderby Land at a latitude of 68° 50′, on February 5. 1832, Adelaide Land at 67° S. Lat., and on February 2l of that same year, Graham Land at 64° 45′ S. Lat. In 1838, the Frenchman Dumont d’Urville was stopped by the Great Ice Barrier at 62° 57′ S. Lat., but managed to discover Louis-Philippe Land; two years later in a new expedition to the south he discovered Adélie Land at 66° 30′ on January 2l, and a week later Clarie Coast at 64° 40′ S. Lat. In 1838, the Englishman Wilkes went along the hundredth meridian as far as the sixty-ninth parallel. In 1839, the Englishman Balleny discovered Sabrina Land on the edge of the Antarctic Circle. Then on January 12, 1842, the Englishman James Ross, commanding the Erebus and the Terror, discovered Victoria Land at 76° 56′ S. Lat. and 171° 7′ E. Long. On the twenty-third of the same month he reached the seventy-fourth parallel, the farthest point attained till then; on the twenty-seventh he reached 76° 8′, on the twenty-eighth 77° 32′ and on February 2 78° 4′. Later in 1842, he returned but could get no farther than the seventy-first parallel. And then on March 21, 1868, I, Captain Nemo, reached the South Pole at a latitude of 90° and took possession of this portion of the globe equal in area to a sixth of all known continents.”
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