French original: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers
Finnish translation: Kapteeni Nemo merten syvyyksissä
Publication year of the original: 1870
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2011
Finnish translator: Kristina Haataja
Format: print
Page count: 287

In 1866 many people on sailing ships have seen a mysterious sea monster and it has even damaged some ships. People in many countries are speculating what the strange, gigantic creature could be. Soon, the US sends a ship to end the creature’s threat to the ship lines. The ship’s captain invites professor Aronnax, his servant Conseil, and a famous Canadian harpooner Ned Land.

The ship Abraham Lincoln searches the seas for months until it finds the monster. At first the creature astonishes the men with its speed, because no matter how fast the ships goes, it can’t reach the monster. However, when the ship’s captain fires on the beast, it turns out to be bulletproof, too.

During the battle professor, his servant, and Ned Land are washed over board. After drifting for a night, they end up on the beast’s back and realize that it’s not an animal but a man made submarine. They are taken prisoner and taken into the gigantic submarine. They are locked into a small room, but given a good meal. After a day and night, they meet the ship’s captain: Captain Nemo is handsome, tall fellow and he allows the professor to have full access to his wondrous ship, the Nautilus. Aronnax is a scientist and he’s immediately fascinated by the many exploration opportunities Nautilus represents. He’s also curious about Nemo but the captain doesn’t answer any questions about himself. He just says that he has abandoned humanity and that the three men will be his guests for as long as they shall live.

Nautilus begins a long voyage under the seas of all the Earth’s oceans and Aronnax witnesses eagerly all of the wonders Nemo shows to him. They range from fish to underwater ruins and wrecks.

The characters have more personalities than in “From Earth to the Moon” or “Around the Moon”. They aren’t complete archetypes but I still feel that they are quite detached from the reader and they are still more a vehicle for moving the story along than real characters. Aronnax is happy to study everything outside the Nautilus but he doesn’t think even once about the people who might be missing him nor about the world and career he has left behind. He’s not even dismayed at the thought of being cut off from the rest of the humanity. Instead, when Ned Land comes up with escape plans, Aronnax is dismayed at the thought of leaving Nautilus. Conseil is even more of an archetype: he seems to have no life or thought beyond serving his master or cataloging animals. Ned Land seems to me to be the most human of the trio. Right when we meet him, he’s described as hot-blooded and indeed he yells and bellows and demands to be let out. He’s also very interested in hunting and is constantly trying to escape the submarine. Yet, even he doesn’t mention a family or friends in the outside world.

Captain Nemo seems to be a very cold and rational man, except for this hatred of mankind. However, right at the start he says that he’s no longer part of mankind and has no interest in them. Then, he does little things that show the reader that he isn’t an uncaring man. However, in the end we don’t find out his real name, just a hint of the great tragedy which shadows his life.

Like the previous two books I’ve read from Verne, this isn’t a modern adventure tale. It’s more like a travel book where the professor gapes at the fish and the undersea beauties of corals rather than the strange customs of other cultures.

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