Journey to the Center of the Earth

Today’s post by guest blogger Danielle Wade focuses on Journey To The Center of the Earth, book # 136 in the list of 1001 books to read. Danielle is a returning student from sixteen years ago and is excited to be preparing to study physical therapy at Jefferson Community and Technical College. Danielle may be contacted directly at dwade0029@kctcs.edu.

The author of Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Jules Verne, was known for his inventions and his love of scientific discoveries.  Several of his books were written about the newest inventions of that time.  Hot air balloons, submarines, fossils and electromagnetism were a few of the things that he wrote about in many of his books.  In Journey To The Center Of The Earth, he explores a few different theories about how the earth was formed.  He mentions natural disasters, prehistoric people, how coal was formed and even evolution.  I’m not surprised  that this book is on the list of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.  Jules Verne was a visionary and in most cases pinpointed the future exactly.

 The story opens in Hamburg, Germany, 1863.  Professor Otto Liedenbrock was known far and wide for his intelligence and ability to answer any scientific or mathematical question.  He rushes in the door early one day to his nephew Axel and demands that he quickly meet him in his study.  He found an ancient Icelandic book and upon opening the book, an old parchment paper fell onto the floor.  Professor and Axel opened the paper to find words written with code in a language that they couldn’t interpret.  Professor declared that no one would be permitted to eat until they discovered what the code meant.  Several days later, Axel was fanning himself with the paper and realized that they words were written backwards!   “Descend into the crater of Sneffels…and you will reach the center of the earth.”  Immediately Professor yells at the staff and Axel and tells them to get ready, they are going to Iceland to descend into the cave that will lead them to the center of the earth!  Days later, Professor Liedenbrock and Axel are on their way to find their anticipated destination.  Their journey was to begin in a small cave in Iceland.
 
Arriving in Copenhagan, which is Denmark’s capital, Professor discovers that an alchemist Arne Saknussemm had discovered the entrance to the cave many years ago.  It was said that  Saknussemms’ books were destroyed so that no one would discover his secret. Professor Liedenbrock is determined that they will find out the secret behind Professor Saknussemm’s discovery.  After much research they find that they must go to the volcano Sneffels and await for noon time to see the cave entrance.   He hires Hans the Hunter to help them carry their things and be a guide for their journey. 
 
They descend into the cave and start their journey.  The descent into the cave begins the physical party of this journey.  Axel is worried and has recurring nightmares about being burned, lost and never getting to go home.   As they advance further into the cave, they run into problem after problem. The realization sets in that they are running out of water.  Axel loses strength and falls to the ground in sheer exhaustion and dehydration.  Hans listens closely and hears something rushing in the walls beside him.  He slams his axe into the wall and a gush of water flows out!  They are saved!  A potential crisis diverted, they breathe a sigh of relief.  After resting and refilling all of their canteens they realize that if they follow the water downward it would have to take them to the center of the earth. 
 
Days later with many more caverns, trails, and caves Axel becomes separated from his team and wanders for miles in a different direction.  By a strange phenomenon he finds later that he is able to communicate with his group and they are eventually reunited.  They reach a vast cavern that is lit by electrically charged gas and filled with a deep subterranean ocean.  The land is filled with giant mushrooms and walking further they see a 13 foot tall man standing against a mushroom!  Not knowing if he was friend or foe, they decide not to take the chance and do not disturb this giant.  The team works together and builds a small raft to take them across the underground ocean.  During this journey they are caught between two prehistoric creatures that are fighting in the ocean.
 
When they reach the other side, they discover huge mastodon bones and even the bones of an oversized human.  They continue to explore the coastline and find a passageway that was marked by Saknussemm his predecessor.  They come upon a granite wall that is blocking their path and have to blast through the wall.  The blast uncovers another ocean and they are swept away at lightning speed.  The rushing water takes them to a volcanic chimney and they find that they are being swept up at lighting speeds and the water is getting more and more hot.  Finally, they are ejected from the active volcano on the Isle of Stromboli. 
 
They return to Hamburg and are hailed as heroes and become known as some of the greatest scientists in history.  Their story comes to a close with Axel returning to his sweetheart, Grauben, and Hans going back to continue his quiet and simple life in Iceland.
 
Thanks for sharing, Danielle! This makes me want to read it again. Until Next Time, Happy Reading!
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