Sunday, October 5, 2008

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a book review

Ah. Good stuff.

The luxury, the beauty, the lists!

I mean, I want to leave the world behind while taking a fully stocked library full of all my favorite books, comfortable chairs, reading lights, and out-of-date newspapers. Consider:

High pieces of furniture, of black violet ebony inlaid with brass, supported upon their wide shelves a great number of books uniformly bound. They followed the shape of the room, terminating at the lower part in huge divans, covered with brown leather, which were curved, to afford the greatest comfort. Light movable desks, made to slide in and out at will, allowed one to rest one's book while reading. In the centre stood an immense table, covered with pamphlets, amongst which were some newspapers, already of old date. The electric light flooded everything; it was shed from four unpolished globes half sunk in the volutes of the ceiling.

According to Captain Nemo, there are twelve thousand books in there. It's a bibliphiles dream!

Then there are the staterooms (Nemo's "sparsely furnished" one, and a spare handy for any stranded marine scientists he happens to scoop up), the stewards to bring breakfast, and the mini-museum stocked by an artist, and all the wonderful meals everyone is always eating. Nemo knows how to desert the world in style.

There are some gorgeous descriptions in there, too, as the captain takes his "guests" on tours of the ocean floor, showing them wonderful coral forests, sunken cities, and brilliantly lighted iceburgs.

And then there are the lists. Oh, how the man loves his lists. I estimate that I made a good mile on one catalog of fish--and that was ambling along with an elderly dog and stopping to take pictures every now and again.

Of course, there's the little matter of the Captain being quite mad, but everyone is due a character flaw or two.

I stand by my recomendation of the Librivox recording, too. It was quite good. The variety of readers didn't distract me the way I expected it to--in fact, it added to the charm--and all of them were quite good as readers. One or two had a couple of stumbles, but overall, they're about average for recorded books, and these are all volunteers.

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