Journey to the Centre of the Earth: A Review

Journey to the Centre of the Earth: A Review

Journey to the Centre of the Earth: A Review

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Science Fiction is one of the most popular genres of all times; it is read by the people of all ages and all fields. Time has been witness of the popular classics that emerged in the world of literature under the category of science fiction. Science Fiction brought a great appeal to the world literature and people began to look for more and more for this highly imaginative yet completely scientific writings. According to the Bedford Glossary science fiction is "a type of fiction that is grounded in scientific or pseudoscientific concepts and that, whether set on Earth or in an alternate or parallel world, employs both realistic and fantastic elements in exploring the question "What if?" The genre of Science Fiction is based on the exploration of different aspects of life; let it be social, psychological, moral or biological. It conveys new ideas, not only about the present but also makes great futuristic speculations.

Here I will discuss the novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth in the light of the given characteristics, and prove the significance of science fiction novel in the English literature.

Jules Verne's famous novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth is one of the first novels that become a beacon of light not only for the readers of science fiction but, for the writers as well. It is written by the famous French author Jules Verne, who is well known for his fantastic adventurous stories, and is acknowledged to be one of the pioneers of science fiction. Journey to the Centre of the Earth is recognized world over, is read by people of all ages and has been translated into many other languages.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a unique literary endeavor that incorporates great characterization, simple plot, and grand adventurous fiction, enveloped in scientific narrations. The story revolves around the characters of Otto Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans. Otto Lidenbrock is a well-reputed geologist, mineralogist, and Professor at Johannaeum. Being a man of science he was an enthusiast about all new scientific discoveries, and always anticipated scientific adventures.

The story is being narrated by Axel, who is a timid, undecided and less motivated boy. But being brought up under the care of his uncle he had developed much interest in science, minerals, geology and other scientific works. Much of his time was spent in his uncles' laboratory. The story starts to unfold when Otto Lidenbrock comes across an old parchment with runic letters inscribed on it. That parchment revealed the secret passage to the centre of the earth, its author being a famous Icelandic scientist Arne Saknusseumm. This is when Lidenbrock is taken by the enthusiasm to become the first scientist to discover and make journey to the centre of the earth!

Jules Verne wrote the novel in a way that it contained scientific information throughout the story. One major tool of providing readers with a point to sift their mental faculties for scientific knowledge was to add scientific discussions and arguments in the story. He brought about many such arguments that made the story gripping; for example, when Lidenbrock decides that they would leave for the Summit of Sneffels and make a quest to the centre of the earth, many questions arise in the readers minds. Questions like; how would the journey be made in utter darkness? When the earth is filled with magma, how will they pass through it? And won't the pressure inside earth's crust be unbearable? The author very intelligibly answered all these questions by setting the characters in an argument about these notions. Take example of an excerpt from the novel:

'Yes, it is well known that the temperature increases by approximately one degree centigrade for every seventy feet you go below the surface of the globe. Now, assuming that this ratio remains constant, and given that the radius of the Earth is about four thousand miles, the temperature at the centre will be well over 200,000°. The substances at the Earth's core exist therefore as white-hot gases, for even metals like gold or platinum, even the hardest rocks, cannot resist such a temperature. My question whether it is possible to travel in such an environment is consequently a reasonable one!'

We can see clearly how Verne has added the chunk of scientific facts (temperature increases by approximately one degree centigrade for every seventy feet) into the story. Making scientific calculations, by keeping in mind the radius of earth and other variables, shows the great extent of knowledge that Verne has employed in writing the novel. Later through the story he creates the atmosphere of curiosity and adventure for the readers, and so one starts to anticipate what lays ahead in the story.

Adding scientific knowledge and fantasy for the readers in a science fiction knowledge is inevitable. Jules Verne in his novel takes full knowledge and responsibility of it. At one point in the novel when Lidenbrock is ready to make the journey, they prepare a complete list of provisions and instruments required on such a journey. The list is given in the form of a scientific list:

"The instruments included:
1. A centigrade thermometer made by Eigel, graduated to 150°, which didn't seem quite right to me...
2. A manometer operated by compressed air, designed to show pressures greater than that at sea level..."

This list is important when one analyses the novel under the characteristics of science fiction novels. It gives us the details of scientific instruments and their information with much precision and accuracy. The valuable information given to the readers is immense and this part of the story gives thrust to the interest of the readers, and helps make it more and more 'grounded by a high degree of realism.'

Throughout the novel Verne refers to actual places, and real geographical locations and facts. For example when Lidenbrock along with Axel starts the journey to Iceland; Verne adds the following lines:

"Iceland is one of the biggest islands in Europe. Its surface stretches across fourteen hundred miles, but it has only sixty thousand inhabitants. Geographers have divided it into four parts, and it was the Region of the South-West Quarter, 'Sudvestr Fjordjngr', that we had to cross, almost diagonally."

This factual information given by Verne provides the readers with immense knowledge as well as entertainment; it becomes easier for the readers to relate to the real life places than to imagine a fantasy world. This adds to the general knowledge of the readers as well.

Once the journey beneath the earth's crust takes momentum, an adventurous aura envelops the novel, and one after another many discoveries occur. At one place in the novel Axel is lost and is left alone in the darkness to find his companions. In this situation he suddenly hears his uncle calling his name, this is the moment when Verne uses the famous scientific phenomenon known as 'acoustic effect'. Jules Verne further gives more knowledge of the special effect by saying the following words:

"This astounding acoustic effect can easily be explained by simple natural laws; it arose from the peculiar shape of the gallery and the conductibility of the rock."

Here we see that Verne explains the working of the scientific phenomenon, and further he also gives examples from different places on earth like, "the Whispering Gallery at St Paul's in London". This makes his ideas more convincible and concrete.

Jules Verne creates a fantastic world underground, and shares unique and daring adventures with the readers. His scientific imagination reaches great heights and opens new dimensions of though for the readers, as they are introduced to new ideas and possibilities. Journey to the Centre of the Earth makes its readers journey through the Lidenbrock Sea, which is "a vast sheet of water...", and around the shore there were "tall, dense forest..." which had plantation from all the ages, trees of medium height and dense vegetation. Through the imagery of this forest one can explore the different ages of evolution, the primary plats and animals, as well as the secondary vegetation growth. The readers become accustomed to the ideas of how different species had lived on Earth and evolved and became as they are at present.

One of the characteristics of the science fiction novels is that they include fantastic characters such as aliens or monsters. And Journey to the Centre of the Earth contains a whole chapter dedicated to the "Battle of monsters." In it there is the description of two ominous monsters, that are half- lizard and half whales. These monsters fight a ferocious battle and this adds to the thrill and excitement of the novel.

The discovery of the human skeleton, the fierce electronic storm, the powerful geyser and diverse subterranean life puts beauty in the novel and keeps the readers engrossed till the end. Journey to the Centre of the Earth not only provides scientific knowledge but also develops a sense among the readers to ponder on the scientific information and explore different areas and discoveries in science. This book enhances the interest of people in subjects like geology, geography and other natural sciences.

Lonely Planet Guides Vs Travel Blogs - Which Is Better?

Lonely Planet Guides Vs Travel Blogs - Which Is Better?

 Lonely Planet Guides Vs Travel Blogs - Which Is Better?

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If you find travelling the world to be a rejuvenating experience, you don't have to strain your budget to stay young and kicking on the travel circuit.

I'm sure you'll agree, It's a lovely planet we live in, and Lonely Planet guides can show you the best treats, eats and retreats which some luxury tours choose to overlook as they sometimes only show you only the glossy, well worn parts of the country that you have chosen to visit, and leave you with the feeling of a somewhat 'plastic' holiday experience

If you are planning a backpacking trip of your own, then the correct use of Lonely Planet guides and various travel blogs are a great way to familiarise yourself with your chosen travel destination before you ever leave home. They are a great option since they include some of the best kept travel secrets, helping you to travel further & longer with confidence.

Just because you want to travel doesn't necessarily mean that you have burn a whole pile of cash to get an amazing travelling experience.

Backpacking from place to place can give you the chance to meet locals, as well as other travellers, and learn more about the planet we live in and the diversities of other cultures.

The famous Lonely Planet Guides have provided tourists with useful and practical information for many years.

Created after its founders splendid honeymoon during which they travelled across two continents and an ocean with borrowed money.

I always liked how the Lonely Planet guides are packed full of practical travel information and advice about the places I want to visit, however, I sometimes have found the guides to be outdated on more than one occasion.

The Guides are laid out beautifully with helpful maps & various photographs from local attractions.

Combine the photos with descriptions of cities & countries from around the globe and you have a great book that will inspire you to plan your next travel adventure.

What I enjoy most about the Lonely Planet Books is they can help to generate fresh ideas of new places to travel and things worth doing when I'm in need of some travel inspiration.

The books are full of lists. Top 10 Countries, Top 10 Regions, Top 10 Cities and so on.

I don't know if I agree with the top 10 in each of these categories, and you might not either, but that is not the point.

Use the book to inspire you to travel to new places you haven't yet been, and to generate ideas and travel inspiration.

Even if you don't travel to the locations listed in the Lonely Planet Travel Guides, they will help you create awareness of what's out there, and of the places that are available for you to explore.

If you enjoy traveling, you will enjoy looking through the Lonely Planet Travel Guides for fresh new backpacking ideas.

In 2007 approximately seventy five percent of the Lonely Planet was acquired by BBC Worldwide who resolved to continue creating travel guides as they have always been created in the past, providing trustworthy advice to independent travellers and backpackers.

Each year approximately 500 new Lonely Planet guides are published for travellers.

You can either purchase them from bookstores all over the world, or online directly from the company's official website.

In addition, you can even download the guides now as an audio book.

Wandering from one distant place to another, allows you to experience the diversity of the world's cultures, and the world-renowned Lonely Planet Guides have been helping tourists with their itineraries since it's founders went on their own life-changing adventure, spending borrowed money and savings on an unforgettable travel experience across two continents.

Lonely Planet Publications is one of the world's largest travel guidebook publishers, founded by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who cashed in on their wanderlust.

Tony came up with the company name, having misheard the phrase 'lovely planet' in Joe Cocker and Leon Russell's song, 'Space Captain.'

Of late, Travel Blogs have become one of the more popular ways to learn about the mighty world of travel.

Backpackers, travellers on the move, and jet setters who love to travel the world can find a bunch of relevant information on travel blogs especially information that may not be available in a standard printed travel book or guide.

First hand information about a possible travel location can come in very handy for the regular traveller, especially if it concerns local travel, hotel and food information, local weather information and travel maps etc.

Don't depend on a single source for travel information. Flick through the Lonely Planet Guides, find a good Travel Blog with relevant & accurate information & even use Google to find helpful useful travel advice & tips.

The Ultimate Fictional Journey Through China

The Ultimate Fictional Journey Through China

 The Ultimate Fictional Journey Through China

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Journey To The West is one of the four classical Chinese novels. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty, the novel is based upon the travels of the monk Xuanzang whose journey through China took him along what we now know as the Silk Road, and beyond. In all he travelled for some 17 years, through Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. He returned with a huge collection of Buddhist scriptures and then spent the rest of his life translating these into Chinese.

Journey To The West has been translated in English. The earliest translation, Monkey: A Folk-Tale Of China by Arthur Waley, shortened the story considerably - removing two thirds of the chapters and all of the verse. Full translations are now available, often with copious footnotes to clarify cultural issues that might otherwise confuse. The story has been adapted for television many times - with actors and in cartoon format. Many films have also incorporated references to Monkey King or the Journey To The West story.

The novel is composed of four main parts. In the first, the hero Monkey (Sun Wukong) is introduced in order to explain the magical powers that he uses so effectively later. This section takes great liberties with characters from both the Buddhist and the Taoist religions, a feature that continues throughout the book and which is one of its greatest strengths. The second part deals with the early life of the monk Xuanzang, culminating in his reason for travelling west. The third section is the journey through China, the section that interests us most here. The last section is the conclusion - the attainment of the goal and a bit of tidying up.

The Journey Through China

Xuanzang sets off from Chang'an the capital (now Xi'an) on his journey through China alone; alone that is except his sturdy steed a white horse. He is weak and would be be easy prey for beasts or bandits but because his purpose is to fetch holy scriptures he finds divine help along the way. He soon hooks up with the naughty Monkey who is released by Buddha to protect Xuanzang and therefore atone for his past sins. This is a great responsibility and one that causes Monkey considerable stress throughout the journey but that is clearly part of Buddha's plan as Monkey does mature as the journey through China progresses.

This horse is soon killed and eaten by a dragon who is then made to take its place. The party is then completed by two other characters, Zhu Ba Jie, better known as Pigsy, and Sha Wujing, better known as Sandy. Pigsy is a greedy character, glutinous and lecherous. Sandy is a cannibal. Both are heavenly characters being punished on earth for minor misdemeanours, and their part in the journey is also suffering and atonement.

The fictional journey can be traced to some extent to real places, and this can provide a challenge for any contemporary traveller looking for an interesting theme for their own journey through China. Most of the relevant sites will be found in Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang Provinces. Those who decide to attempt this should remember that the author, Wu Cheng'en, never actually traversed the route and therefore relied very much upon his own readings and experiences. Much that would be familiar to the east of China is transferred to the west simple because the author had no means of knowing just what the west was like.

The Flaming Mountains that feature strongly during the story of the Bull Demon King are easily traced to the range close to Turfan in Xinjiang Province. To capitalise on this there is even a museum dedicated to the novel located here which is well worth a visit for anyone interested in the story.

The ancient city of Subashi near Kuqa (aka Kuche) was definitely a Buddhist kingdom during the time of the real Xuanzang's visit and has been associated with the story of the Womanland of Western Liang. However, this may just be literary convenience as the most likely contender for a matriarchal society would have been Khorezm now a region in the west of modern Uzbekistan.

Other travellers may be interested in other aspects of the story. Mt. Yuntai near Lianyungang in Jiangsu Province is meant to be the inspiration for the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit where Monkey enters the waterfall cave and becomes the King of his monkey tribe. The Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an still houses the original scriptures brought by the real monk Xuanzang all the way from India.

Whatever your interest, it pays to have a complete translation of the novel handy. An electronic version is useful for faster searches and as a more portable option to take with you on your journey through China.

Ian Ford has lived in China for more than 7 years. He has travelled on the route of the Journey To The West on several occasions as well as extensively elsewhere in China, Central Asia and beyond.