Verniana — Jules Verne Studies / Etudes Jules Verne — Volume 6 (2013–2014) — 55–66

La double profondeur dans Vingt mille lieues sous les mers ou le sens des limites

Stéphanie Clément


This article examines the characteristics of the oceanic depths in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers and shows that they are of a double nature. Depths are characterized by transparency, movement and the ability to be represented intellectually, and first seem appropriated by the men on board the Nautilus. But through the course of their journey, the characters meet another depth—one which refers to what Blanchot calls the “other night”. This one is opaque, fixed, and impossible to appropriate through speech, and places the characters and the reader at the limits of knowledge and language. The figure of a ‘situated man’—belonging more to the Earth than the Earth belongs to him—emerges as well. In Verne’s novel, the sea constitutes a modern object of representation in that its double depth defines a sense of limits.

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