Friday, February 11, 2011

twenty thousand leagues

I listened to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea--from the French, Vingt mille lieues sous les mers--which I downloaded from Lit2Go via iTunes U. Classic science fiction by Jules Verne, originally published in 1870.

Why am I writing about a book that I listened to instead of read? This is a reading blog, right? Well no, its not just about reading, its about whatever I want, savvy? Check out the backmatter page for the full story on what I'm doing here, and lets get a move on.

So I listened, while driving, over the course of a few months or so, maybe more. I drive a lot, but I'm only going to listen if I can hear a whole chapter, so I can keep track of whats going on. I've seen little bits of movies, and I know as much as the normal guy who hasn't read the book from pop culture, so it won't surprise you to learn that this is about Captain Nemo and his fantastic submarine, the Nautilus, and told in the first person by one of his passengers, Professor Pierre Aronnax.

I'm glad I didn't read it boy! The story was just fine, exciting, somewhat mysterious, and rather dark at times, but man, give me a break with the names of the fishes! I had a very similar feeling when reading Moby Dick; if all of the names of the flora and fauna the gushing Prof. Aronnax and his manservant, Conseil, saw, weren't named--common, and latin names, in many cases, and in some cases, species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom--this book would be half the size. Here's a little quote for ye:

"fishing-frogs that, from their comical movements, have acquired the name of buffoons; black commersons, furnished with antennae; trigger-fish, encircled with red bands; orthragorisci, with very subtle venom; some olive-colored lampreys; macrorhynci, covered with silvery scales; trichiuri, the electric power of which is equal to that of the gymnotus and cramp-fish; scaly notopteri, with transverse brown bands; greenish cod; several varieties of gobies, etc.; also some larger fish; a caranx with a prominent head a yard long; several fine bonitos, streaked with blue and silver; and three splendid tunnies"

Wow! Did you say "equal to that of the gymnotus and cramp-fish?" Tell me more Perfesser!

But I kid! It really was a great story. There was much more to this book than I had guessed based on my pop-culture knowledge of it, and I would recommend it. Especially to all you aspiring ichthyologists and phycologists out there.

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