Journey to the Center of the Earth Summary
by Jules Verne

Journey to the Center of the Earth book cover
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Journey to the Center of the Earth Summary

Journey to the Center of the Earth follows three adventurers who undertake a perilous expedition to the center of the earth.

  • Professor Lidenbrock discovers a manuscript that reveals the location of a passage to the center of the earth. Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel travel to Reykjavík, Iceland, and enlist a guide, Hans, to join their expedition.

  • The three enter a dormant volcano near Reykjavík. The passage leads them to an underground sea, where they encounter prehistoric creatures.

  • They don't reach the center of the earth; instead, they are expelled to the surface during a volcanic eruption. Following this incident, they become famous.

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Summary

In 1863, German professor Otto Lidenbrock buys the manuscript of an old Icelandic saga. Inside it, he and his nephew, Axel, find a coded document written by an Icelandic alchemist named Arne Saknussemm. Decoding it, they discover the runes are directions to the center of the earth. Saknussemm explains that he has successfully made this journey, which makes the professor believe it is possible.

Lidenbrock and Axel immediately head for Iceland, as they will have to descend through a Icelandic volcano to follow Saknussemm’s directions to the earth’s center. Their only window of opportunity for the journey is late June, which is almost upon them. Axel doesn't want to go, but Lidenbrock is unstoppable.

In Iceland, Lidenbrock and Axel hire a guide, Hans Bjelke, who is a duck hunter. The three men travel successfully through the volcano and move ever closer to the center of the earth, encountering many perils en route, such as dangerous flammable gas. At one point, they almost perish for lack of water, and Axel is also temporarily separated from the professor and Hans.

The center of the earth, however dangerous, is also a wondrous place. It is a huge cavern seemingly untouched by humans from the surface of the planet (except that they find the initials “A.S.” carved in a rock). This underground world is lit by electrified gas. The three men encounter giant mushrooms that grow taller than they do and a huge sea, upon which they travel on a raft. Since they are discovering that which was previously unknown, they get...

(The entire section is 463 words.)