Talk:Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

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Question[edit]

Is this novel public domain?

Translations older than 1923 are PD. There is also a more recent translation on Project Gutenburg but I am not sure of the PD status of it, but it's certainly free to read. -- Stbalbach 12:21, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

Where should this go?

Twenty Thousand Million Leagues Under the Sea:

20,000 Leagues under the Sea:

Other (please specify):

The 1954 film is "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Amazon shows book editions variously with "20,000" and "Twenty thousand" (and a couple with "20000") but almost always singular "sea". I think I prefer a spelled-out title... maybe. Of course, the pedant I am, I'd prefer Vingt mille lieues sous les mers... --Brion

Well, we put the first Harry Potter book under its real (i.e., UK title) "philosopher's stone" vs. "sorcerer's stone". But for Verne's classic sub story, which surely served as inspiration for The Hunt for Red October I'd like to see something that does it justice. And there are too many redirect pages.

I vote for either "Twenty Thousand" or "20,000", with the alternate title redirecting to the main title. --Ed Poor

Mais on n'ecrit pas les titres (ou les articles) en français :-). I think that "20,000" and "sea" are preferable, former because it's shorter (I like shorter titles), the latter because it's the common English rendition. --Uri
Oui oui, mais quel dommage! Le titre original, ce devrait être disponible comme redirect je pense, mais bien sur pas comme le titre de l'article meme. "Sea" is definitely preferred in the English forms. I want to lean towards the full words "Twenty Thousand" on principle, but I think the "20,000" is more likely to crop up. --Brion
Bien sûr, on va laisser le nom original comme un redirect! Considering the fact that a certain part of the people on the Internet would have difficulty spelling out "twenty thousand", I do prefer the numerical title. As to the general case, I haven't made up my mind (although 1001 Arabian Nights looks better to me than A Thousand an One Arabic Nights. Then of course there's "Alf Layla wa-Layla"/ألف ليلة وليلة). --Uri
If I may...
it doesn't matter what any of us thinks what looks/sounds/spells/writes better/easier/etc, all that matters is that the translation remains true (as close to as possible) to the original, and of course, we must also take in consideration to adapt the grammar to the language in which the title is translated into (whatever that may be), but at the same time to keep the original meaning.
Jules Verne titled his novel "Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers", which translates into English as "Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea", not "20,000"/"20000", and definitely not "seas" nor "thousands", because English grammar dictates in this context "sea" to be the proper term.
Similarly, this goes for "mille", not "milliers".
Of course, one [myself, for example ;-)] could argue that "beneath" would be a better choice than "under", but that's only my personal opinion, and obviously that wasn't the translator's choice, which leads me to draw the conclusion that professional translators chose "under" as the best alternative for this context.
HTH [hope this helps]
All the best,
MDGx 17:43, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
Responding to MDGx, I agree that what matters is that the translation remains true. Toward this end, "Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers" translates differently than you have claimed. The phrase "les mers" is a plural. If a singular "sea" was desired, the phrase would be "la mer". So, at the very least, the translation should end with "the Seas". As for the text of "Twenty Thousand" or "20,000" or "20000", they all mean the same thing. It doesn't make any sense to say 'not "20,000"/"20000"'. To stay true to the translation, I would posit that the best translation is "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas". I won't quibble with the argument of "beneath" being chosen over "under". That's an acceptable selection. 128.219.49.8 (talk) 18:04, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

On measuring units[edit]

"and this distance is a measure of length, not depth" -feet are more usual for depth, I believe- but as it is written this funny to me any measure of length is of course valid in the three dimensions or maybe I've been transferred to some parallel world ?

  • There is no way that 20,000 leagues (or even miles) can refer to the *depth* the Nautilus goes to. It refers to the distance the craft travels while submerged. I believe Verne clears this up in the book wherer a character remarks that he has been travellign 20,000 legues while on the vessel. The Land 19:44, 16 Sep 2004 (UTC)


20,000 leagues does refer to distance travelled and not depth.

  • In Project Gutenberg's version, In Chapter 18 of part II Sargasso Sea, paragraph 21, the text reads "By then we had fared nearly 13,000 leagues from our starting point in the Pacific high seas."
  • In paragraph 38, the text reads, "We reached a depth of 16,000 meters -- four vertical leagues." As far as I can tell, that is the deepest they go in the book. User: maurelius 23:25, 21 May 2005.
That's correct. Also, "League" ("Lieues") were oldish measuring units by that time already; I suspect that they are used because they resonate with old childrens tales ("les Bottes de sept Lieues" for instance). A likely traditional depth measure unit would be "brasse" (not foot "pied"). Rama 08:36, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

We still sometimes (though not always) use the League measurement at sea. It's still in use. Gingermint (talk) 23:23, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Categorization[edit]

In case someone should wonder: I re-entered the category link just to test whether this would make the novel be sorted correctly (i.e. under T) on the category page. And it worked. As for why it didn't the first time around, I have no clue. --Wernher 23:20, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)



Can someone add a list of his works? Phaust 08:04, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

That would go on Jules Verne, wouldn't it ? Rama 12:15, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Something to add[edit]

It would be good if we could explain some of the obscure 19th century science that's so much a part of the novel.--Pharos 10:07, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

What do you have in mind ? The science itself does not strike me as that obscure -- it is good old classical physics... but it is true that there are lots of allusions to systems of the time (like the underwater breathing systems, riffles, navigation instruments...) which could be very funny to hunt for :) Rama 10:20, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

What about some of the marine biology references, like Professor Arronax's claim that sharks must roll over onto their bellies before they can bite, or that Sperm Whales will eat Baleen Whales. Or the explanation that the world is growing colder, and volcanoes growing less active? It would be cool if there could be a discussion of the various scientific points in the book and how accurate they are and where they came from.Annabg 20:13, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

How much of the physics is plausible at least to a degree. For example the effectiveness and survive-ability of ramming ships with the configuration of the Nautilus, Could the boat survive the impact? What about the exploding cargo?216.196.167.24 (talk) 04:16, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Contradiction[edit]

The article mentions "The story was written before modern sea-going submarines were a reality..." however near the end it adds, "Verne borrowed the name "Nautilus" from one of the earliest successful submarines, built in 1800 by Robert Fulton".

I realize it says "modern" sea-going submarines but isn't that a given? Since submarines did exist in some form, shouldn't the first sentence be dropped? Verne didn't invent the concept of a submarine.

I believe the term "sea-going" is relevant. The original nautilus could dive several metres and sink ships, but it was not an ocean-going vessel and could not travel any appreciable distance. The concept of an underwater ship is original.Thebunsk 05:32, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

Fulton's 'Nautilus' could only travel at a depth of twenty feet, submerged for--if I remember correctly--only five hours. Submarines have existed in various forms since the 1600s at least, but the true "sea-going" sort developed in the 1890s. Prior to the improvements then made, most notably the use of electric power rather than hand turned cranks, submarines could not be used for extended periods such as Verne mentions. Not to mention that almost all pre-1890 subs were failures--look at 'Turtle' and 'Hunley'. It's nice that Verne chose one that never sank! 216.144.111.187 22:44, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

explanation necessary[edit]

Please explain what "purists prefer 20,000 Miles Under the Sea" is supposed to mean here; one would expect the opposite, that purists prefer a title closer to the original:

The word leagues in the English title is a literal translation of lieues, but purists prefer 20,000 Miles Under the Sea whereas twenty thousand lieues marine are 60,000 nautical miles. Using the metric System with SI-units Jules Verne's book would be titled "111,120 km Under the Seas" today.

--Espoo 07:36, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree, I have tried to fix this. -- dwxyzq|T 21:34, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
In my old non-english edition roughly from the seventies a league is defined to be 2.36 miles, IIRC, and the book's title can be translated as "40,000 miles under the sea". In the book the estimate of about 47,000 miles traveled is given.

Not to blow smoke but the conversion of League's to miles depends on which country's Leagues you are using. ie spain, france ect and what time period you are using...I did at one point track down what the then period French League to mile conversion was but ill have to look to find it again(CaptianNemo (talk) 04:21, 29 December 2011 (UTC))

water pressure[edit]

I have removed this paragraph:

Whether because he was unaware of the phenomenon, or simply chose to exclude it from his narrative, the fictional universe of Verne's novel does not feature water pressure increasing with depth, as it does in the real world . His "Nautilus" has no limitation in the depths it can reach, and in one episode it sets down on the very deepest bottom of the Atlantic, at which point Captain Nemo and Professor Aronnax emerge, wearing diving suits, and walk for miles along the sea bottom to view the ruins of Atlantis. In reality, of course, the overwhelming water pressure at that depth would crush an unprotected human.


based on the following:

  1. unaware of the phenomenon? from chapter 4: "Precisely, Ned. So at thirty–two feet beneath the surface of the sea, you'll undergo a pressure of 17,568 kilograms; at 320 feet, or ten times greater pressure, it's 175,680 kilograms; at 3,200 feet, or 100 times greater pressure, it's 1,756,800 kilograms; finally, at 32,000 feet, or 1,000 times greater pressure, it's 17,568,000 kilograms; in other words, you'd be squashed as flat as if you'd just been yanked from between the plates of a hydraulic press!" Verne seems quite aware of it.
  2. The nautilus goes to a depth of 16000m whereby Nemo says"Let's go back up, professor. We mustn't push our luck and expose the Nautilus too long to these pressures." (ch11) This shows the nautilus had limitations.
  3. They set the nautilus down at 300m for the walk to atlantis and spend their time climbing upwards (ch9); today scuba divers have been able to reach this range from the surface so this can not be a depth that would crush an unprotected human.

This makes me honestly wonder if I have read the same book as the author of this paragraph, or if this is some kind of insidious vandalism?


with that said something should probably be written showing how good of a grasp Verne had on the power of water pressure; although I do not know if his awareness of it is actually anything noteworthy? -- dwxyzq|T 21:34, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Supposed Spanish first edition[edit]

When I was looking up info for the infobox on alibris.com, I ran across this: [1] Is this valid, if anyone has any idea please leave a message on my talkpage -- Gizzakk 17:58, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Film adaptations[edit]

This section contains the statement, "It was the first live-action film of Walt Disney Pictures." This is not correct. As two instances of earlier live-action films, Disney released Treasure Island in 1950 and The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men in 1952 (see IMDb.com or references on this website). The author perhaps meant Disney's first live-action film made in the U.S.? Orzel-W 19:59, 9 May 2006 (UTC)

Tentacled attackers[edit]

Every english translation I've found gives the species of the cephalopods that attack the Nautilis as being cuttlefish, and not squid. While reading the original text to check out the recent edit that put "kraken" into the synopsis, I found that the French word used is calmar, or squid, rather than seiche "cuttlefish". Does anyone know anything about the history of this replacement? Also, barring any further knowledge of the translation, which word (squid, keeping with the original sense, or cuttlefish, keeping with the translations) would be in keeping with Wikipedia's style? Ross Hatton 15:05, 16 June 2006 (UTC)


According to the Miller/Walter translation (1993), Verne used "poulpe," "calmar" (squid) and "kraken," to describe the creatures, and "poulpe" is used as a synonym for octopus ("pieuvre") only in 20th century French, while in Verne's day "poulpe" was a more generic word for any many-armed creature. 130.65.109.54 (talk) 23:39, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

Top Importance?[edit]

How on earth did this get to be one of sixteen books in the "top-importance novels" category? Dybryd 07:48, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

where would you rate it then - also bear in mind that few novels have been rated as yet. :: Kevinalewis : (Talk Page)/(Desk) 07:50, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
According to the UNESCO Index Translationum [2], Verne is the world's third most translated author. "20,000" is arguably his most famous work ("80-Days" is probably more popular but only in English speaking countries). I'm not sure what objective criteria are being used to rank books (sounds like original research territory) but it is an important work. -- Stbalbach 14:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
The main work by the author who is considered to be by many as non less of than the Sci-F genre founder. No doubt it deserves its place on the list. Even if it's not that great from a literary point of view and it hasn't got a main place within literary studies (in fact the whole genre hasn't), its influence is so huge inside and outside literature that it belongs to the list. The fact that there are so few articles on this category is a different issue. Not enough works were rated yet.--Rataube 17:54, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Another piece of trivia[edit]

Oceanopolis, a large sea-life centre on the outskirts of Brest, quotes liberally from "20,000", roughly once per (large) fish-tank. Captain Pedant 20:15, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

New page on Arronax?[edit]

While a web page on Wikipedia exists about Captain Nemo, we need someone to create a page on the other main character, Aronnax. It seems his role is no lesser, though no page exists about him. Michael Viveiros 23:47, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I'd like that too, since he's the one mainly "narrating".

Mohamed Magdy (talk) 11:48, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

Assumptions[edit]

Thus the title distance is equivalent to 80,000 km (which would be recognizeable to anyone accustomed to the metric system as twice around the Earth)

I'm from a country that uses the metric system and, therefore accustomed to the metric system. I did not know, however, that 80 000km is twice around the Earth. That's a rather bold assumption to make, that anyone who's accustomed to metric, will know that 80 000km is twice around the Earth.--Jayb485 (talk) 20:48, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Is the "title" section really necessary?[edit]

I don't think that there is anyone who actually believes that 20,000 leagues under the sea means that they were that deep. It doesn't require explanation, anyone would know that they would be somewhere in orbit around the other side of the earth. If someone knows what a league is, then they immediately can infer that 20,000 leagues is a measure of distance, not depth. TheOtherSiguy (talk) 15:34, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

In my experience most people think this. Mostly because they don't have a firm understanding of how long a league is. In fact, SNL also did a hilarious sketch about this common misconception. APL (talk) 21:46, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree with APL. Most people assume depth ... and, come on, no one knows what a "league" is! (Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 05:41, 29 February 2008 (UTC))
I first read the book in elementary school and I distinctly remember thinking that it referred to depth. I had no idea what a "league" was at the time. It is a very common misconception.DrHenley (talk) 11:19, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

Double Reference[edit]

Seems to me that the reference to Captain Nemo and the Nautilus in the film 'League of Extrodinary Gentlemen' is being redundant in the trivia section, since that is mentioned in the last line of the 'Allusions to actual history, etc., etc.' section. Since trivia is less respected on Wikipedia, I'd remove it from there, but I have yet to make an account, and I fear someone would take a person with a random IP address removing an obviously relevant section as being vandalism. Some mind clearing this up? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.232.195.129 (talk) 14:04, 27 February 2009 (UTC)


Hugo Omitted[edit]

I just finished reading the 1995 Quality Paperback Book Club edition (20000, Mysterious, and Journey crammed into a value tome), and found some strange translation. Where this stub quotes from the chapter following the poulp fight:

"To convey such sights, one would take the pen of our most famous poet, Victor Hugo, author of The Toilers of the Sea".

The edition I read instead goes with:

"To paint such pictures, one must have the pen of the most illustrious of our poets, the author of The Toilers of the Deep." (260)

If I had to guess, I'm starting to think I wasted my time with the Mercier translation, but where did the quote in the stub come from? There's no attribution. Focusonthechart (talk) 22:28, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

F. P. Walter editions[edit]

OK, what's the deal with the references here? -- Evertype· 01:24, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Nyctalope Anachronism[edit]

At the beginning of Chapter 5 (around paragraph seven), my English-translated Aronnax notes, "...and even nyctalopes, whose faculty of seeing in the darkness multiplies their chances a hundredfold, would have had enough to do to gain the prize..." According to Wiki, the Nyctalope was created (at least, the character) in around 1908-1911, though this book was published long before then. I know nyctalopia is a medical condition, but did the concept of low-light-vision appear under the name of 'nyctalope' before 1908, or is this a translation-based anarchronism? J6M8 (talk) 21:54, 11 November 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.196.32.94 (talk) 21:52, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Plot?[edit]

I was surprised this article jumped straight into Themes and Subtext without a Plot Summary. I know the general plot from having seen the Disney movie, but was looking for more details and also to get an idea of differences to the movie. Jeffhoy (talk) 16:12, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

Jeffhoy read my mind, right down to the title of this section. How do you write an article about a book and not include the plot?? 68.3.119.83 (talk) 09:34, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

I've added back in the plot summary. It appears someone deleted it a while back.--SouthernNights (talk) 15:13, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Name "Nautilus"[edit]

Article states that the first nuclear submarine USS Nautilus was named after Vern's submarine. This is not the case. There were a several U.S. Navy ships named 'Nautilus' prior to the nuclear submarine; some of which predate Vern's novel. One of the predecessors was a submarine. At the time of commissioning USS Nautilis SSN-571 there was a tradition of naming U.S. submarines after sea creatures; and also re-using the names of past submarines. Naming SSN 571 'Nautilus' fulfilled both traditions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.198.124.210 (talk) 03:22, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Page not moved. (non-admin closure) walk victor falk talk 18:16, 9 December 2013 (UTC)



– Many sources use Arabic numbers, and it is rather concise and recognizable. Should I explain further? Relisted. Favonian (talk) 13:22, 8 November 2013 (UTC). George Ho (talk) 04:14, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose The original French title as shown uses Twenty thousand (vingt mille) not 20 000, as does an illustrated English title page which I happen to have on a reading device here. The article title should normally be the original title. Imc (talk) 17:27, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
    • We are discussing English-language usage. Unlike the situation in Talk:Case Closed, we must use whichever available is used in English reliable sources per WP:UE. Per WP:COMMONNAMES, a commonly-used title may not be official, but it should be accurate and unambiguous. --George Ho (talk) 17:44, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
      • I agree that the French is not particularly relevant but I used it show that the choice of format in the original first translation was not without reason. In addition in English names numerals are almost always spelled out - e.g. Hundred Years War, Four Nations Cup, et.c. Note that many of the Google returns are for such sloppy uses as in the Amazon ads that say '20 000 leagues ...' but show a book title page that says 'Twenty Thousand...'. For this reason, and because it is the actual title of the book, we should stick with it. Imc (talk) 07:42, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I seemed to recall almost always seeing the title with the numeral, and a cursory Google search supported this. The French title is essentially irrelevant to this discussion, as there is unquestionably an established English name for the novel. --BDD (talk) 18:31, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment I believe 20,000 Leagues under the Sea would be the film. Imc (talk) 07:45, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. My Web searches indicate that "Twenty Thousand" has been used on the title pages of most standard trade editions of English translations since the 1800s, as well as "prestige" editions by the Easton Press, the Limited Editions Club, etc. "20,000", on the other hand, has appeared mainly on children's editions/adaptations and movie tie-ins. Scholarly works dealing with the book seem to overwhelmingly use "Twenty Thousand" (when they don't use the French title). Deor (talk) 09:04, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per the original French and more usual English form. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:08, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:CONCISE if no other reason. Red Slash 00:32, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment - The disambiguation page move appears fairly self-evident. Marcus Qwertyus (talk) 23:07, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:PRECISE (in order to distinguish from the various films which adopt numerals in their titles). Wouldn't articles on books normally be expected to use the title under which the book was first printed? (This is an encyclopedia after all, and it's useful for readers to know at a glance what the original title of a literary work was, whatever the COMMONNAME may now be.) It's worth also noting that there were editions which adopted the translation seas and that at least one recent edition chooses to spell out the number in words.
I'd also suggest that Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (disambiguation) be moved to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We could then ensure that hatnotes to the dab page are included on each relevant page. -- Trevj (talk) 12:40, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Apparently the first American edition was published by James R. Osgood and is dated 1873. And apparently the first UK edition (also published 1873) used the plural seas. As a European (British) editor, I'm a little biased... but I'd suggest that possibly the English publishers may have been more used to translating works by the French than our American counterparts. Notwithstanding that, using the actual title of the first translation to English should IMO be the deciding encyclopedic factor. So, can we definitively ascertain that from the current sources (or elsewhere)? -- Trevj (talk) 12:59, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.