The story involves a professor who leads his nephew and hired guide down a volcano in Iceland to the "centre of the Earth". They encounter many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy. From a scientific point of view, this story has not aged quite as well as other Verne stories, since most of his ideas about what the interior of the Earth contains have since been proven wrong. However, a redeeming point to the story is Verne's own belief, told within the novel from the viewpoint of a character, that the inside of the Earth does indeed differ from that which the characters encounter.

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