Daily Telegraph, 14 March 1998

Old Favourite

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas by Jules Verne; tr. by William Butcher (Oxford, 4.99)

In 1866, Dr Aronnax, a French naturalist, joins an expedition to hunt a sea monster; but instead finds himself aboard a huge, high-tech submarine run by the enigmatic Captain Nemo, who tells him he will never escape. In precise, scholarly tones, which accentuate the wonders he retails, Aronnax describes hunting amid the ruins of Atlantis, planting a flag at the South Pole, and his discovery of Nemo's sinister agenda. Contrary to popular belief, Jules Verne was writing for adults, and I enjoyed the novel very much. FH