A Journey to the Center of the Earth – Day 1 of 94

A Journey into the Interior of the Earth

By Jules Verne

[Redactor’s Note: The following version of Jules Verne’s “Journey into the Interior of the Earth” was published by Ward, Lock, &Co., Ltd., London, in 1877. This version is believed to be the most faithful rendition into English of this classic currently in the public domain. The few notes of the translator are located near the point where they are referenced. The Runic characters in Chapter III are visible in the HTML version of the text. The character set is ISO-8891-1, mainly the Windows character set. The translation is by Frederick Amadeus Malleson.

While the translation is fairly literal, and Malleson (a clergyman) has taken pains with the scientific portions of the work and added the chapter headings, he has made some unfortunate emendations mainly concerning biblical references, and has added a few ‘improvements’ of his own, which are detailed below:

III. “pertubata seu inordinata, ” as Euclid has it.”

XXX. cry, “Thalatta! thalatta!” the sea! the sea! The deeply indented shore was lined with a breadth of fine shining sand, softly

XXXII. hippopotamus. {as if the creator, pressed for time in the first hours of the world, had assembled several animals into one.} The colossal mastodon

XXXII. I return to the scriptural periods or ages of the world, conventionally called ‘days,’ long before the appearance of man when the unfinished world was as yet unfitted for his support. {I return to the biblical epochs of the creation, well in advance of the birth of man, when the incomplete earth was not yet sufficient for him.}

XXXVIII. (footnote) , and which is illustrated in the negro countenance and in the lowest savages.

XXXIX. of the geologic period . {antediluvian}

(These corrections have kindly been pointed out by Christian Sánchez of the Jules Verne Forum.)]


The “Voyages Extraordinaires” of M. Jules Verne deserve to be made widely known in English-speaking countries by means of carefully prepared translations. Witty and ingenious adaptations of the researches and discoveries of modern science to the popular taste, which demands that these should be presented to ordinary readers in the lighter form of cleverly mingled truth and fiction, these books will assuredly be read with profit and delight, especially by English youth. Certainly no writer before M. Jules Verne has been so happy in weaving together in judicious combination severe scientific truth with a charming exercise of playful imagination.

Iceland, the starting point of the marvellous underground journey imagined in this volume, is invested at the present time with. a painful interest in consequence of the disastrous eruptions last Easter Day, which covered with lava and ashes the poor and scanty vegetation upon which four thousand persons were partly dependent for the means of subsistence. For a long time to come the natives of that interesting island, who cleave to their desert home with all that amor patriae which is so much more easily understood than explained, will look, and look not in vain, for the help of those on whom fall the smiles of a kindlier sun in regions not torn by earthquakes nor blasted and ravaged by volcanic fires. Will the readers of this little book, who, are gifted with the means of indulging in the luxury of extended beneficence, remember the distress of their brethren in the far north, whom distance has not barred from the claim of being counted our “neighbours”? And whatever their humane feelings may prompt them to bestow will be gladly added to the Mansion-House Iceland Relief Fund.

In his desire to ascertain how far the picture of Iceland, drawn in the work of Jules Verne is a correct one, the translator hopes in the course of a mail or two to receive a communication from a leading man of science in the island, which may furnish matter for additional information in a future edition.

The scientific portion of the French original is not without a few errors, which the translator, with the kind assistance of Mr. Cameron of H. M. Geological Survey, has ventured to point out and correct. It is scarcely to be expected in a work in which the element of amusement is intended to enter more largely than that of scientific instruction, that any great degree of accuracy should be arrived at. Yet the translator hopes that what trifling deviations from the text or corrections in foot notes he is responsible for, will have done a little towards the increased usefulness of the work.

F. A. M.
The Vicarage,

Chapter I: The Professor And His Family

On the 24th of May, 1863, my uncle, Professor Liedenbrock, rushed into his little house, No. 19 Königstrasse, one of the oldest streets in the oldest portion of the city of Hamburg.

Martha must have concluded that she was very much behindhand, for the dinner had only just been put into the oven.

“Well, now,” said I to myself, “if that most impatient of men is hungry, what a disturbance he will make!”

“M. Liedenbrock so soon!” cried poor Martha in great alarm, half opening the dining-room door.

“Yes, Martha; but very likely the dinner is not half cooked, for it is not two yet. Saint Michael’s clock has only just struck half-past one.”

“Then why has the master come home so soon?”

“Perhaps he will tell us that himself.”

“Here he is, Monsieur Axel; I will run and hide myself while you argue with him.”

And Martha retreated in safety into her own dominions.

I was left alone. But how was it possible for a man of my undecided turn of mind to argue successfully with so irascible a person as the Professor? With this persuasion I was hurrying away to my own little retreat upstairs, when the street door creaked upon its hinges; heavy feet made the whole flight of stairs to shake; and the master of the house, passing rapidly through the dining-room, threw himself in haste into his own sanctum.

But on his rapid way he had found time to fling his hazel stick into a corner, his rough broadbrim upon the table, and these few emphatic words at his nephew:

“Axel, follow me!”

I had scarcely had time to move when the Professor was again shouting after me:

“What! not come yet?”

And I rushed into my redoubtable master’s study.

Otto Liedenbrock had no mischief in him, I willingly allow that; but unless he very considerably changes as he grows older, at the end he will be a most original character.

He was professor at the Johannæum, and was delivering a series of lectures on mineralogy, in the course of every one of which he broke into a passion once or twice at least. Not at all that he was over-anxious about the improvement of his class, or about the degree of attention with which they listened to him, or the success which might eventually crown his labours. Such little matters of detail never troubled him much. His teaching was as the German philosophy calls it, ‘subjective’; it was to benefit himself, not others. He was a learned egotist. He was a well of science, and the pulleys worked uneasily when you wanted to draw anything out of it. In a word, he was a learned miser.

Germany has not a few professors of this sort.

To his misfortune, my uncle was not gifted with a sufficiently rapid utterance; not, to be sure, when he was talking at home, but certainly in his public delivery; this is a want much to be deplored in a speaker. The fact is, that during the course of his lectures at the Johannæum, the Professor often came to a complete standstill; he fought with wilful words that refused to pass his struggling lips, such words as resist and distend the cheeks, and at last break out into the unasked-for shape of a round and most unscientific oath: then his fury would gradually abate.

Now in mineralogy there are many half-Greek and half-Latin terms, very hard to articulate, and which would be most trying to a poet’s measures. I don’t wish to say a word against so respectable a science, far be that from me. True, in the august presence of rhombohedral crystals, retinasphaltic resins, gehlenites, Fassaites, molybdenites, tungstates of manganese, and titanite of zirconium, why, the most facile of tongues may make a slip now and then.

It therefore happened that this venial fault of my uncle’s came to be pretty well understood in time, and an unfair advantage was taken of it; the students laid wait for him in dangerous places, and when he began to stumble, loud was the laughter, which is not in good taste, not even in Germans. And if there was always a full audience to honour the Liedenbrock courses, I should be sorry to conjecture how many came to make merry at my uncle’s expense.

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  1. A Batch of New Books at Turtle Reader on 30 Mar 2008 at 12:29 pm

    [...] Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. I’ve seen the movie but never read the book. Should be interesting. Hopefully the [...]

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