Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The books that changed my life (5)



Jules Verne, the French novelist, had a very brilliant mind. In an age when submarines where unheard of, he wrote about it in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. His novels were indeed prophetic. And for a gullible tween like myself back then who hasn't been anywhere, his works provided an escape from the routine, from the unremarkable places of childhood.

I first read 20,000 Leagues under the Sea when I was 13. I didn't read the preface nor the introduction at first. I finished the novel in two days -- it was that exhilarating. All the while, I thought that this novel was a contemporary one, so I was very much surprised when I read the introduction and discovered that it was written in 1870. Thus began my Jules Verne phase.

For two months, I went through Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Mysterious Island. Verne's last novel, The Mysterious Island, would appeal to fans of the TV show "Lost." Also, at the end of the novel, you become reacquainted with one of Verne's beloved characters -- Captain Nemo. In a way, The Mysterious Island is a sequel of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

Verne's works are delegated to the ranks of reading materials for children and teenagers. They can serve as a good introduction to other classics, like they did for me. Children should learn that classics need not be boring and only have characters that gossip with one another the whole day. Verne's novels even employ writing techniques that contemporary writers of techno-thrillers still use today -- the cliffhanger, the dramatic unfolding at the end, the detailed workings of each gadget.

Pretty soon, after my Jules Verne phase, I started reading Jack London's White Fang and The Call of the Wild, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Come to think of it, Verne introduced me to some of our greatest books.

What about you, dear reader? Have you read a novel by Jules Verne?

15 comments:

Mary@The Sweet Bookshelf said...

Hi Peter! I am so glad you enjoy my blog! I've added the followers widget so you can follow me! Thanks!

Peter S. said...

Hi Mary! Thanks for dropping by too!

Jam said...

lol...yup, I've read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 days. After that, I entered my horse and dog days and read Beauty, Buck, Wild Fang, then went to The Little Princess, Pride and Prejudice, lol...just a lot of classic books good for teens. They're not droning on and on, and they vary scenes from time to time.

Cristina Cuaresma said...

I LOVE A Journey to the Center of the Earth! It kicked off my sci-fi interest. I'm planning on getting a copy from Project Gutenberg soon :)

Peter S. said...

Hello, Jam! If only teens nowadays get to read these books as well. They're all too preoccupied with vampire lit. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, they should also find the time to read these classics.

Peter S. said...

Hi Ina! I love that book too! Pure adventure.

Jenny said...

Hi Peter,
Thanks for following my blog!
This is a great post! I've never read anything by Jules Verne. My husband is a die-hard Lost fan, though... I should suggest these books to him for sure! When it comes to classics I've always stuck to the Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte types of works and never really read these other ones. I should definitely do that eventually!

Charlie said...

I may have started reading Verne when I was eleven, read all of them, and then moved on to the same ones you did. Perhaps we're twins and don't know it.

I totally agree that kids today should read some of the classics, but I think 1)that most of them don't know they exist and 2)don't have the vocabulary to understand them. Put Mysterious Island (my favorite) in the school curriculum and you can kiss it goodbye--unless it's a graphic comic book.

Charlie said...

BTW, I think this is number 5 in the series.

Peter S. said...

@Jenny: Verne is actually very addictive. I'm sure you'll like his works.

@Charlie: Glad to know that we have the same reading tastes! And thanks for pointing out the error.

Dinah said...

oh no, too many books to read, so litle time :-)
but Verne will now be in my reading list.

Peter S. said...

Hi Dinah! Verne is actually quite enjoyable. Very very engaging.

sumthinblue said...

Loved A Journey to the Center of the Earth too :) I remember wondering whether I could reach the center of the earth via Taal or Pinatubo, hehe :)

Peter S. said...

@Blooey: I loved that novel too. It's very escapist!

Patrick said...

I have not yet read any of Verne's books but I do love sci-fi! I've only seen the movie adaptations which isn't saying much. I'll definitely add his books now in my classics-I-need-to-read list. Thanks for the reminder. ^_^