A Journey to the Centre of the Earth

A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864) I started reading this classic—that I'm sure everyone is familiar with—as research for my novel about traveling to the center of the Earth (I admit, one of my favorite subjects)—and everyone knows, or should, that there is no procrastination quite like “research”—in fact, one could easily research one's life away, and many do. It was an enjoyable yarn, nonetheless, even if it got me no closer to my own journey. I can confidently say that the best stories have at least a character named “The Professor,” or a narrator named “Axel,” or an Icelandic guide named “Hans,” and this one has all three, and pretty much no one else—just the journey. I don't envy Jules Verne writing this thing, it's pretty relentless forward movement (or downward, inward) with little to draw on but the imagination (or other “research”). It must have taken quite a few bowls of tobacco and a lot of black coffee, and he didn't even have the luxury of thinking of James Mason's speaking voice whenever the Professor talks (which isn't often). Hans is pretty much silent, and most of the speaking is done internally, by Axel (is that even his name, I'm not sure now?) and it's a pain to write that stuff when your own concerns are nothing like your character's. But I was in this guy's head for awhile, and it was as much of a relief to get out of it as it was to emerge, finally, onto the surface, into daylight and warmth and fig trees.