by Jules Vernes
AUDIO BOOK - CD-ROM - mp3
A Journey to the Center of the Earth (French: Voyage au centre de la Terre), also translated as A Journey to the Interior of the Earth, is a classic 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. The story involves a German professor (Otto Lidenbrock in the original French, Professor Von Hardwigg in the most common English translation) who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the center of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans encounter many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy. The living organisms they meet reflect geological time; just as the rock layers become older and older the deeper they travel, the animals become more and more ancient the closer the characters approach the center.
From a scientific point of view, this story has not aged quite as well as other Verne stories, since most of his ideas about what the interior of the Earth contains have since been soundly refuted. However, a redeeming point to the story is Verne's own belief, told within the novel from the viewpoint of a character, that the inside of the Earth does indeed differ from that which the characters anticipate. One of Verne's main ideas with his stories was also to educate the readers, and by placing the different extinct creatures the characters meet in their correct geological era, he is able to show how the world looked a long time ago, stretching from the ice age to the dinosaurs.
The book was inspired by Charles Lyell's Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man of 1863 (and probably also influenced by Lyell's earlier ground-breaking work "Principles Of Geology", published 1830 - 33). By that time geologists had abandoned a literal biblical account of Earth's development and it was generally thought that the end of the last glacial period marked the first appearance of humanity, but Lyell drew on new findings to put the origin of human beings much further back in the deep geological past. Lyell's book also influenced Louis Figuier's 1867 second edition of La Terre avant le déluge which included dramatic illustrations of savage men and women wearing animal skins and wielding stone axes, in place of the Garden of Eden shown in the 1863 edition.
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