• 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

  • By: Jules Verne
  • Narrated by: James Frain
  • Length: 14 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 08-09-11
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Listening Library
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 (923 ratings)

Regular price: $35.00

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Publisher's Summary

An American frigate, tracking down a ship-sinking monster, faces not a living creature but an incredible invention - a fantastic submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo.
Suddenly a devastating explosion leaves just three survivors, who find themselves prisoners inside Nemo's death ship on an underwater odyssey around the world from the pearl-laden waters of Ceylon to the icy dangers of the South Pole... as Captain Nemo, one of the greatest villians ever created, takes his revenge on all society.
More than a marvelously thrilling drama, this classic novel, written in 1870, foretells with uncanny accuracy the inventions and advanced technology of the twentieth century and has become a literary stepping-stone for generations of science fiction writers.
Public Domain (P)2011 Listening Library
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Tad Davis on 08-18-11

Anthony Bonner!!

James Frain gives a wonderful reading of Verne's masterpiece. He captures Aronnax's sense of wonder, Ned Land's anger, Nemo's passionate devotion to the sea. It's Verne with a slight touch of Yorkshire: Frain's Ned Land sounds more like Sean Bean than Kirk Douglas. No complaints here, though: his voice is rich, steady, and crystal clear.

Even more reason for celebration is the fact that Listening Library - which produced Jim Dale's excellent "Around the World in 80 Days" a few years ago - chose to use the translation by Anthony Bonner. This was first published by Bantam in 1962 and was reissued with some corrections in 2003. This is one of the most complete versions of Verne's novel available in English and is a remarkably fluent translation. (There are more recent translations that are more meticulously accurate - for instance, those by William Butcher, F.P. Walter, and Walter James Miller - but Bonner did a bang-up job, one of the first to deliver Verne's whole novel rather than a hacked-up abridgement, and it's still one of my favorites.)

(There is only one other audio version of this book that is even remotely complete, the Recorded Books production read by Norman Dietz. I enjoy Dietz, but the anonymous translation used there, even though it IS the whole novel, is an awkward one with an unfortunate tendency toward literalism.)

If you're a Verne fan, you HAVE to get this. If you've listened to one of the other audio versions of this novel and came away unimpressed, give it another try with this one. I can practically guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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46 of 51 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Ian on 08-20-12

Of its time.

Some classic books are enjoyable just because they are brilliantly written and tell a fascinating story. Some are interesting because they tell us as much about the time in which they were written as they do about themselves. This is in the second category.

I love a good science fiction work. But I'm beginning to suspect that Verne is not my style. There are very large sections of this book which become effectively a shopping list of the names of species. This is OK when it is a name or two but when you wake up and realise that you have been listening to a list of different fish species for the last few minutes it gets a bit frustrating. And then when it carries on for what must translate into several pages of text it just gets annoying. Now when the book was published this probably made great reading because much of the natural world was just being codified. However, once you've seen a David attenborough documentary or two it becomes necessary to grit your teeth and bear up to get through it. There are also many passages that consist primarily of the mathematical formulae necessary to build a submarine which, again, might show the author as being a clever man but kind of limit his appeal as a narrative story teller.

But that is in fact what makes the work interesting. Not because it IS interesting but because it WAS interesting. It gives some idea of the thirst and desire that the late 19th Century had for all this stuff. It shows that in the absence of the National Geographic Channel there was a mass market that wanted to find out how stuff works and what they could do with it. So this book is really a cross between the Great Exhibition and The Public Aquarium at London Zoo. Its a museum piece. It should be read not because its a great story (its OK but no better) or because its great writing (always difficult to judge in a traslation) but because its a barometer of its time and probably a pretty good one at that.

The narration is good. Clear and with no excessive characteristion. There is an introduction by Ray Bradbury which contrasts this work with Moby Dick and draws comparisons. Not sure that it added much for me but it might be a bonus if you have to write an exam paper anytime.

Basically if your interestedin the history of science or literature you should read this. If not, then maybe not.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Faye on 11-11-15

Very Long Intro by Ray Bradbury

Any additional comments?

If you are looking to skip this intro as its full of spoilers and incredibly long and flowery and full of religious guff about america as he children of god; it ends at 31.50. Yes, its a very very long intro.

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By GenKaan on 11-30-14

The characters make up for all the marine biology

Where does 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Middle, the constant and at times very repetitive super detailed description of the all the marine life they encounter really slows the book down.

Which character – as performed by James Frain – was your favourite?

Nemo is a true original but I think Ned Land because of his rebellious spirit and overall lovable demeanor

Any additional comments?

If you are into detailed descriptions of fish, algae, rocks, molluscs and other aquatic life this is something you will enjoy a lot. If you are into steam-punk this is a great book.

I think this is the first book that I would like to have a paper copy of, since if I could skip at least parts of the descriptions of the marine life I would have given it a 5/5.

Overall a great book, fantastic characters and the excitement of Aronnax keeps the flow up.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jake richards on 07-16-18

awesome classic story.

I love listening to this old story. it's amazing how exciting the narrative still is today even after Its been written such a long time ago. the storyteller does a fantasticjob I can't wait to hear some more Jules Verne

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