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Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas


William Butcher

OUP 1998


Revised Edition, 2001


Folio Society edition, with revised translation, 2013




Read annotated extracts:

Ch2: Pros and Cons

Ch3: As Monsieur Pleases

 'I am going to sink it.'
'You will not!'
'I will,’ he coldly replied. ‘Do not take it on yourself to judge me, monsieur.’

French naturalist Dr Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, but discovers instead the Nautilus, a self-contained world built by its enigmatic captain. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels of the globe, undergo a transcendent experience in the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo’s mission is finally revealed to be one of revenge—and his methods coldly efficient.

Verne’s classic novel has left a profound mark on the twentieth century. Its themes are universal, its style alternately humorous and grandiose, its construction masterly.

This new and unabridged translation by the father of Verne studies brilliantly conveys the range of this seminal work. The volume also contains unpublished information about the novel’s genesis.

Dr William Butcher, previously Head of Languages at Hong Kong Technical Colleges, is the father of Verne studies in English. He has also published Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1992) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1995) for OUP.


'By far the best translations/critical editions available' Science Fiction Studies

‘expertly translated . . . illuminating scholarly apparatus’ Vector 200

‘I enjoyed the novel very much’ Daily Telegraph

‘brilliantly conveys the novel’s varying tones and ranges’ Tandem

‘the only version of Twenty Thousand Leagues in English worthy of serious attention . . . a mine of information’ Professor T Unwin, Australian Modern Languages Association Journal

'a leading authority on the great French author' South China Morning Post

‘truly ambitious ... high-standard scholarship . . .masterpiece . . .  unprecedented standard’ Foundation

'les premières éditions critiques, dignes de ce nom . . . aucune édition française n'existe qui soit comparable . . .  travail exemplaire' BSJV

'The introduction and notes by William Butcher are especially helpful', Tad Davis