20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

  • by Jules Verne
  • Narrated by Norman Dietz
  • 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Professor Pierre Aronnax and his faithful servant, Conseil, embark on an amazing journey in Captain Nemo's Nautilus in Jules Verne's classic novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While a hostile, relentless band of civilians pursue Nemo, Aronnax is astounded by the secret world of undersea life that surrounds Nautilus' massive observation windows. As they descend further beneath the polar icecap, toward the ocean's farthest depths, the crew encounters drowned cities, giant squids, and more mystery than they ever fathomed. First published in 1870, Verne's masterpiece remains one of literature's great adventures, as well as a seminal work of science fiction.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Jules Verne’s classic gets a stirring performance by audiobook veteran Norman Dietz. Dietz takes listeners on a wild ride as an expedition of scientists begins a journey to discover what ripped a hole in the hull of the Cunard ship Scotia. As they travel to the polar regions where an alleged sea monster is decimating ships, Dietz keeps the pace upbeat. Dietz’s voice creates clear portraits of the members of the expedition and paints vivid pictures of their encounter with the mad genius Captain Nemo, his incredible vessel, the Nautilus, and the beauties of the world beneath the sea.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great narration, translation a bit stilted

I call this the "sinister" translation of "20,000 Leagues." I first ran across it in an old blue-bound Collins Classic, the translation unattributed but the volume sporting attractive line drawings. (I've since heard that it was translated by Henry Frith, but I don't know the details.) It's actually still available as an ebook from Collins.

But why sinister? Because when Aronnax discovers a shell whose whorls go to the left rather than to the right - apparently an event as rare as a black swan - he exclaims to Conseil: "It's a sinister shell!" - "sinister," of course, being Latin for "left-handed."

That illustrates one of the problems of the translation. It's unusually complete - for a 19th century translation of this book - but it's sometimes worded awkwardly, with a preference for literal rather than idiomatic turns of phrase.

Some of those turns of phrase obscure quite a bit. One of the howlers - familiar to Vernians from the more frequently reprinted translation of Lewis Mercier - has Aronnax returning from "the disagreeable territory of Nebraska." A translator more attuned to colloquial speech would realize that Verne was talking about the Badlands.

Still, awkwardly worded though it is at times, it's reasonably accurate; and it has the advantage of having one of the audiobook world's best storytellers, Norman Dietz. Dietz has a way of "spinning a yarn" that fits this epic adventure very well. His voice is at times unfashionably breathy, but like Anthony Heald, he has the knack of sounding like he's making the story up as he goes along.

So it's a bit of a wash. The translation gets a C, the narration gets an A. Listen to the sample and see which is more important to you. First time listeners of Verne might be better served by the F P Walter version, read by Peter Hunsmann, or the Anthony Bonner version, read by James Frain. Neither of those narrators are as congenial to me as Dietz, but check them all out.

(If you decide to go with this, here are a few of the more obscure terms to watch out for. "Sinister" means left-handed, as already noted. "Carbonic acid" is carbon dioxide. "Azote" is nitrogen. "Cachalots" are sperm whales. "Poulps" are squid. "Secretary of Marine" means "Secretary of the Navy." And the "sonorous stroke" that Ned Land's harpoon makes might be more colloquially rendered as a "ringing sound.")

Whatever you do, avoid the audio versions that use the Mercier version. It's easy to recognize: it starts out, "The year 1866 was signalized by...." As soon as you hear the word "signalized," put it back on the shelf and move on. However good the narrator, you won't be getting Verne.
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- Tad Davis

A book I have wanted for a long time

I have wanted to reed this book for a long time. And now that I have heard it I love it. It really is one of the better books I have heard. The relationship between the characters and the science in the story is fun some of it is wrong, and we can prove it today, but it was facts when the books where realised.
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- Siri

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-24-2001
  • Publisher: Recorded Books