Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days
Jules Verne
Published 1872
French Literature
Back to the Classics (19th C.), The Classics Club III

Jules Verne's most popular book, Around the World in Eighty Days, is an adventure story about a wealthy British gentleman, Mr. Fogg, who bet a high wager with members of the Reform Club that he could circumnavigate the globe and arrive back at the Club on that precise day and set time, in exactly eighty days.

Along with his canny French valet, Passepartout, the pair set out east from London and made their way by various modes of transportation available in 1872, through Europe, Asia, and North America. Not surprisingly, they were met with dramatic adventure, perilous conflict, and confounding challenges all while racing against the clock. Passepartout's character also added greatly to the entertainment and comedy of the story.

To complicate matters though, a crime had been committed in London, before Mr. Fogg's departure, and he happened to fit the description of the thief. Hence, a British detective, Mr. Fix, pursued Mr. Fogg for the entire length of the journey with an elusive arrest warrant. In addition to all of the unexpected incidents, Mr. Fogg picked up a female companion in India who loyally remained with him, all the way back to London.

This story is dated, which is historical because it is set during a time when Britain colonized Asia, but the book is also probably politically incorrect by today's standards, especially when the troop travel through the United States. Apparently, Verne took this story from real life, as it had been written about already numerous times before this book was published.

In the end, there was a slight miscalculation, which was a little unbelievable given the exactness of Mr. Fogg. And apparently, this calculation was known at the time of publication, though Verne used the error to the benefit of the story. In case you have not read this, I won't reveal what it is, but you can figure it out on your own, if you do read it. It was very obvious.

Overall, my kids enjoyed this story, and with the exception of the some difficult vocabulary, it is the perfect book for elementary age readers. After we read the book, we enjoyed the 1956 film version of the book, which deviates a few times from the modes of transportation, as well as places en route. But Passepartout is so comical and is a nice touch to the seriousness of the story.

Around the World in 80 Days, 1956,
Det. Fix, Aouda, Passepartout, and Mr. Fogg


Silvia said...

This is a dear and fun book, yes!
I also have enjoyed several adaptations.

Ruthiella said...

I read both 20,000 Leagues and The Mysterious Island by Verne when I was a child. But I think I may have read shortened versions, edited for children. But this one is on my list. It does sound like a fun read.

Paula Vince said...

It is a fun story for young readers. Fogg was driving me up the wall with his heavy handed demands and total lack of interest in the passing scenery :) So fortunate to have an employee like Passepartout. That old movie was great, and I also enjoyed the more recent one, with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan.

Ruth said...

SILVIA and RUTHIELLA: Yes, a super easy, fun read with an interesting premise.

PAULA: Fogg was an odd character. Passepartout did make up for Fogg's lack of personality. I never did see Chan's version.

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

I really need to read this one - I started it when I was young, but for whatever reason didn't get very far (probably distracted by something else). But it sounds like good fun, and the historic look back would be interesting.

Ruth said...

AMANDA: Yep, it's just a fun, easy read. Definitely historic, too.

Fanda Classiclit said...

I remember this one, quite a comical adventure.
But I liked 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea better than 80 Days.

Ruth said...

FANDA: Is that right? Because I've got that one on my TBR, as well.