“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne

Nemo and the Nautilus

An Eye-opening, Jaw-dropping Book

I remember watching a movie production (1954) of the book as a child. I loved it so much that I wished the movie would not end. Listening to the audiobook years later brings back all the wonders and much more.

Imagine you can explore the width and depth of all the oceans at will, all the marine species, all the natural  wonders that have never been known or seen before. Imagine you can get inside a volcano and mine the minerals therein, or descend on the bottom of the ocean to collect pearls the size of coconuts. Imagine you discover a new continent, become the first man to set foot on it and claim domain over it.

Jules Verne takes the readers into just such an imaginary world, through the character of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus, combining all the elements of wonder, suspense, adventure and humor into his narratives.

I thoroughly enjoy this book, although all the scientific names of the marine species and minerals make parts of the audiobook unintelligible. It reminds me what great potential human beings possess. In that regard, Captain Nemo represents the best and the worst of men, as one with superior power and knowledge, blessed with boundless resources, and yet tormented by his own destructive inclinations.


1. The Sea
The sea supplies all my wants. Sometimes I cast my nets in tow, and I draw them in ready to break. Sometimes I hunt in the midst of this element, which appears to be inaccessible to man, and quarry the game which dwells in my submarine forests. My flocks, like those of Neptune’s old shepherds, graze fearlessly in the immense prairies of the ocean. I have a vast property there, which I cultivate myself, and which is always sown by the hand of the Creator of all things.

The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the `Living Infinite,’ … Ah! sir, live — live in the bosom of the waters! There only is independence! There I recognize no masters! There I am free!

2. Shark Hunting

Now, if you were invited to hunt the bear in the mountains of Switzerland, what would you say? “Very well! tomorrow we will go and hunt the bear.” If you were asked to hunt the lion in the plains of Atlas, or the tiger in the Indian jungles, what would you say? “Ha! ha! it seems we are going to hunt the tiger or the lion!”

But when you are invited to hunt the shark in its natural element, you would perhaps reflect before accepting the invitation. As for myself, I passed my hand over my forehead, on which stood large drops of cold perspiration.

3. The South Pole

At that moment Captain Nemo, resting with his hand on my shoulder, said:

“I, Captain Nemo, on this 21st day of March, 1868, have reached the South Pole on the ninetieth degree; and I take possession of this part of the globe, equal to one-sixth of the known continents.”

“In whose name, Captain?”

“In my own, sir!”

Saying which, Captain Nemo unfurled a black banner, bearing an “N” in gold quartered on its bunting. Then, turning towards the orb of day, whose last rays lapped the horizon of the sea, he exclaimed:

“Adieu, sun! Disappear, thou radiant orb! rest beneath this open sea, and let a night of six months spread its shadows over my new domains!”



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