A Journey to the Centre of the Earth


Like most of Jules Verne\'s stories, the novel A Journey to the Centre of the Earth belongs to the science fiction genre, perhaps with some adventure fiction here and there. The book\'s main idea is about a German professor, Hardwigg, who, along with his nephew, takes on a journey to the center of the Earth. They enter the Earth via a volcano, and have many adventures and dilemmas during the course of their journey. They discover many unexpected things in the depths, most of which contradict traditional views on the Earth\'s composition and inner functions.


The whole story starts when Professor Hardwigg runs across a very old manuscript written by a great Icelandic scientist of the time, Arne Saknussemm. After much tedious work and pondering, the Professor\'s nephew Harry figures out how to decode the manuscript. With the help of the Professor\'s clever thinking, they realize that it states that there is a way to reach the center of the Earth by way of one of the craters of the Icelandic volcano Mt. Sneffels. Professor Hardwigg, of course, having the impatient personality that he does, makes plans to set off as soon as possible. They pack enough provisions to last many months, and set off.


After their long trip to Iceland -- which bothers the Professor very much -- they meet up with several important Icelandic figures. They also hire a guide, Hans, who would prove to be priceless during their expedition later on. He was a solid, to-the-point man; he didn\'t talk very much, save the things he was required to say and the things that were urgent. His best quality, however, was that he was careful and observative. Many times he is the one responsible for saving one of the others. The only thing he remained obstinate about was his meager pay at the end of each week.


Although the climb up Mt. Sneffels is very difficult, especially for Harry, they do finally reach the correct crater, which is to their advantage inscribed with the initials AM -- Arne Saknussemm. Then, having spent their last -- for a while -- night under open skies, they plunge down under the surface of the Earth. At first the course, for a rather long time -- and also a large part of the book, continues through a network of caverns. Along the way they face numerous minor problems, the biggest one having been thirst -- they run out of water far too quickly. Finally, however, Hans discovers a stream running inside the walls, and using a pickaxe uncovers it. The stream is later christened Hans-bach, bach meaning river in Dutch.


They continue on in this network for quite some time, and along the way Harry gets lost. He can\'t think clearly because of overwhelming thirst, and he accidentally falls down an almost right-angled slope, crashing through the rocks below. Harry, after being taken care of by Hans with traditional techniques of his own, recovers fine, but the spectacle that he beholds amazes him. It turns out that there is a giant sea below the surface of the Earth! There is bizarre, almost artificial-looking illumination in the giant cavern. Strangest of all, however, is that there is flora and fauna from prehistoric times there! Giant mushrooms, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, giant 10-foot-tall apemen... all of these are seen by the explorers along the course of their journey. For a rather long time they try their luck at a futile attempt to cross the ocean on a raft. They get caught in a massive, spectacular storm; they experience lightning effects of all imaginable kinds; a passing ball lightning at one point reverses the directions on their compass. The storm, however, instead of flinging them farther along their course as they at first believe, shoots them back to a point near that which they set off at!


Their predicament, however, becomes a lucky success rather quickly, for the Professor finds a smooth slab of rock near a tunnel entrance, with the initials AM on it, proving that they are on the right path. When they, however, proceed to explore the cave, they quicly come to a dead end. They reach the conclusion that there must have been a major geologic change