At the end of April, I sought something new to read; something different from the genres and books I usually reach for. While perusing the e-books I downloaded from Early Bird Book’s daily deals, I found a copy of Jules Verne’s novel and decided to venture into science fiction, a genre I hardly read.
I began reading immediately and I could tell that it’s a wonderful and entertaining tale, but the language of the translation was clunky and laborious to read. As such, the story became a drag and I loathed picking it up. Luckily, I went to the bookstore soon after starting the story and there I found a Barnes & Noble Classics copy of the story. Michael Dirda’s advice from his Classics for Pleasure book flitted through my mind: It’s better to read multiple translations of a work* (memory foggy but I believe I read that in his book). So I decided to compare the translation of the e-book to the Barnes & Noble Classics copy. The B&N copy was fluid and so easy to read that I got swept up in the story without noticing though I was re-reading the beginning. It was not a question. I would buy it.
The story is narrated by Axel, nephew of Otto Lidenbrock, a short-tempered, eccentric German professor of mineralogy. Axel tells us that one day in May 1863 his uncle ran home with an old book by Snorre Turleson, a famous Icelandic author. His uncle, a bibliophile, was glad about his find but became even more excited when an old parchment tucked within fell out. It had runes scribbled across it that, once deciphered, contained instructions of how to journey to the center of the earth through a volcano in Iceland.