Journey to the center of the Earth
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The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the centre of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans descend into the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull, encountering many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano.
The genre of subterranean fiction already existed long before Verne. However, the present book considerably added to its popularity and influenced later such writings. For example, Edgar Rice Burroughs explicitly acknowledged Verne's influence on his own Pellucidar series.
The book was inspired by Charles Lyell's Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man of 1863 (and probably also influenced by Lyell's earlier ground-breaking work Principles of Geology, published 1830–33). By that time geologists had abandoned a literal biblical account of Earth's development and it was generally thought that the end of the last glacial period marked the first appearance of humanity, but Lyell drew on new findings to put the origin of human beings much further back in the deep geological past. Lyell's book also influenced Louis Figuier's 1867 second edition of La Terre avant le déluge ("The Earth before the flood") which included dramatic illustrations of savage men and women wearing animal skins and wielding stone axes, in place of the Garden of Eden shown in the 1863 edition.
It is noteworthy that at the time of writing Verne had no hesitation with having sympathetic German protagonists with whom the reader could identify. Verne's attitude to Germans would drastically change in the aftermath of the 1871 Franco-Prussian War. After 1871, The sympathetic if eccentric Professor Otto Lidenbrock would be replaced in Verne's fiction by the utterly evil and demonic Professor Schultze of The Begum's Fortune.