Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas
Why Verne's celebrated novel is more than just a boys' own adventure
It is an all-time adventure classic, a novel by Jules Verne that started life in serialized form 150 years ago and has gripped readers ever since, making it one of the most translated works in publishing history (and yes, the original French title says 'seas' in plural). It also made a household name out of its main character, Captain Nemo, the troubled and enigmatic commander who transports us through underwater wonders - including the lost world of Atlantis - in Nautilus, a submarine that itself is a technological marvel. So popular is the story, stars as famous as James Mason, Omar Sharif and Michael Caine have featured in movie versions. But there are dark undercurrents in the novel, themes of anger and revenge, as well as a number of enigmatic passages.
To explore the long-lasting appeal of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, Rajan Datar is joined by Marie-Helene Huet, professor of French at Princeton University and MIT; French writer and translator Laurence Sudret, general secretary of the Société Jules Verne; Swiss-born author and engineer Jean-Michel Margot who had amassed one of the world's foremost collections of Verne materials; and Terry Harpold, Professor of English, Film and Media Studies at the University of Florida who specializes in science fiction.
Photo: Submarine in the style of Captain Nemo's 'Nautilus'. (inhauscreative/Getty Images)