Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

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Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (French: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1869. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus as seen from the perspective of Professor Pierre Aronnax. The original edition had no illustrations; the first illustrated edition was published by Hetzel with illustrations by Alphonse de Neuville and Édouard Riou.



The title refers to the distance traveled while under the sea and not to a depth, as 20,000 leagues is 2.7 times the circumference of the earth. The greatest depth mentioned in the book is four leagues. A literal translation of the French title would end in the plural "seas", thus implying the "seven seas" through which the characters of the novel travel. However, the early English translations of the title used "sea", meaning the ocean in general.

Themes and Subtext

Captain Nemo's name is a subtle allusion to Homer's Odyssey, a Greek epic poem. In The Odyssey, Odysseus meets the monstrous cyclops Polyphemus during the course of his wanderings. Polyphemus asks Odysseus his name, and Odysseus replies that his name is "Utis" (ουτις), which translates as "No-man" or "No-body". In the Latin translation of the Odyssey, this pseudonym is rendered as "Nemo", which in Latin also translates as "No-man" or "No-body". Similarly to Nemo, Odysseus is forced to wander the seas in exile (though only for 10 years) and is tormented by the deaths of his ship's crew.

The preface of a new English edition[citation needed] of the book has a theory that Nemo's name was in part inspired by Jules Verne visiting Scotland and there coming across Scotland's national motto Nemo me impune lacessit, correctly meaning "No one attacks me with impunity", but reinterpreted by Verne as "Nemo attacks me with impunity".

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