On 150 year old stories

Jules Verne is known as the ‘father of science fiction’ – his novels were some of the first to explore imaginary worlds, or imaginary parts of the world, while presenting them as possible. I am fair flying through ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, and have only about thirty pages to go. The edition that I bought, which is a Random House Vintage Classic, comes, to my surprise, with a pair of 3D glasses stuck to the inside cover, as the front cover is 3D. Interesting idea.

‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ was a bit of a shock to the system after the whimsical, descriptive styles of ‘The Secret Garden’ and ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’. It is written very simply, with short, almost bland sentences, which took a little while to get used to. Despite this, I am finding myself getting drawn into the story. It did get me thinking, however, about what makes a classic book a ‘classic’. The stories that are on the ‘1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up’ list that I have read so far have all been written in a really beautiful style, which made the images of the places they are set jump into my mind and it let my imagination go wild. ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, however, is not very descriptive; at least, it is descriptive in the most basic way. It is definitely not the style of writing that has promoted it to a classic (it actually reminds me of the language used in early readers books). The ideas in it were novel and exciting at the time of its release, but now we know that they are unrealistic and implausible. But there is still something there that is drawing me in …

Do we hang onto books that were the first of their kind just because they are the first of their kind? Does the context of a book change the way we think about a book? If any of Jules Verne’s books were published today, would they be as successful as they were in 1864? Although, on the flip side, does the fact that Jules Verne’s work has survived almost 150 years, and is still being read today say something about the quality of his story? There is something about it that makes me want to read on. It definitely has something…



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  2. Pingback: On where the list of 1001 Children’s Books I Must Read Before I Grow Up (Too Much) comes from | 1001 Children's Books

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