collage of bones, insects, a volcano, a dinosaur, and a skull

Journey to the Center of the Earth

by Jules Verne

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What inspired Jules Verne to write Journey to the Center of the Earth?

Quick answer:

New scientific theories, such as the Hollow-Earth theory, inspired Jules Verne to write Journey to the Center of the Earth.

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Journey to the Center of the Earth is the second book in a Verne collection called Voyages extraordinaires. This collection was full of adventure stories about the scientific wonders of the remote aspects of the earth and covered subjects such as aerial travel in a balloon and deep-sea exploration. The collection capitalizes on the growing popular interest in science in the nineteenth century.

This particular novel is inspired by the Hollow-Earth theory that was popular in the nineteenth century. This theory posited, as the name implies, that the earth was empty in the center, making it scientifically plausible that humans could explore there. Verne was also inspired by Charles Edmond's 1857 travel narrative of his trip to Iceland, which led Verne to have his characters Lidenbrock and Axel meet with Icelandic scholars.

Iceland was a volcanic country, and Verne used that to imagine the possibility of entering the earth's center through an Icelandic volcano. Verne was also well aware of Darwin's On the Origin of the Species, which spawned great debate over evolutionary theory and the relationship between science and religion. The idea that life forms evolved left it plausible, in Verne's tale, that the history of life's origins or earlier life forms could be uncovered and documented. Darwin's theory that humans shared a common ancestor with apes seems to receive a nod with the explorers' glimpse of a humanoid, ape-like creature on their journey.

At a time when the crust of the earth had largely been explored and explained, Journey to the Center of the Earth offered new possibilities, albeit imaginative, of discovering unseen lands.

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