Selected Critical Reviews of Verne's Works

Above: Verne with Dumas

Review of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Illustrated Review, 16 Dec 1872, pp. 373-374.

The travelers in this cleverly written and ingeniously worked out narrative, apparently suggested by Poe, "are in almost as much danger as if they were traveling by our underground railway." Verne makes geological records live before our eyes. "In reading we at times forget the utter impossibility of the adventure of the travelers, and fancy ourselves reading merely the account of ordinary travelers."

"Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon." Book Buyer, 7 (15 Nov) 1873, 33.

In regards to the wildness of imagination and the skillful combination of the possible with the impossible, this may be Verne's best novel. The "Prince of the marvelous in literature" draws on facts in such a way to render the story "instructive as well as amusing."

Horne, Charles F. "Jules Verne." In Works of Jules Verne, ed. Charles F. Horne. 1911, Vol. 1. New York: Vincent Parke and Company, pp. vii-xviii.

French critics expressed varied opinions of Verne: some considered him to be a leading educator and the most popular author of the twentieth century, yet others "made a mock of his work." Not an "intricate analyst," Verne spoke for the masses. He created a literature that appealed to the businessman by establishing a new form in which scientific wonders were interwoven with the simplest facts of human life. As the "prophet of our mechanical age," Verne foresaw such inventions as the submarine, automobile, airplane, telephone, moving pavements, compressed air, and compressed food.

"Most Wonderful of All Vindications of the True Scientific Imagination." Current Opinion, 64 (Feb 1918), 110-111.

Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea vindicates the use of imagination in science. He did not deal in pseudo-science, nor did he convey false ideas. He erred only on points of detail in the application of principle. His novel "is a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the value of the poetical in science, a proof of the contention that the imagination of the French is essentially scientific as distinguished from the imagination of the English which is in the main poetical." It also proves that the imagination is a more reliable faculty than the intelligence.

Bond, F. Fraser. "Jules Verne, Master of the Improbable." New York Times, 4 Jan 1925, section 3, p.21. Review of Their Island Home, Castaways of the Flag, Lighthouse at the End of the World.

Verne still appeals to the boy of today because of the "velocity and the variety of his narrative." "The boy reader, with his superabundant bodily energy, craves mental playing fields as well as material ones in which to work off his excess animal spirits," and Verne saw to it that something was always happening.

(selections taken from pp. 45-59 in Gallagher, Edward J. Jules Verne: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography. Boston: G.K. Hall and Company, 1980.)

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