Jules Verne, French author helped in pioneering the science-fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Journey to the Center of the Earth (written in 1864), From the Earth to the Moon , Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea [1869-1870], and Around the World in Eighty Days . Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised. Consequently he is often referred to as the “Father of science fiction”, along with H. G. Wells. Verne is the second most translated author of all times, only behind Agatha Christie.
“We are going round the world in eighty days so we have a moment to lose”. Mr. Phileas Fogg tells his confused servant, Jean Passepartout. In Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne tells of travel and exploration, which he hoped would capture the attention of the mid-1800s society, which happened to have a growing interest in science. To do so, Verne uses a variety of literary techniques and elements. Although he does this very well, overall, the bad factors outweigh the good in this book.
Phileas Fogg, a wealthy, punctual perfectionist, makes a bet with some of his rich buddies: 20 thousand pounds that he can make a trip around the world in 80 days. Sounds easy with today’s technology-but in 1972, it was highly improbable, if not impossible! Fogg leaves London promptly, taking only his servant, some money, and a carpetbag with him. Will he make it around the world and back to London in time? Or will he be slowed down along the way, causing him to lose his fortune?
The setting, which is London 1872, is essential in making this story work. If it had not taken place in this time period, the story would be pointless. Say, for example, it were to take place in this day and age. With the technology now available, 80 days is more than enough time to visit tourist attractions in some of the famous cities of the world: New York, London, Paris, Cairo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and even Tokyo. However, in 1872, because transportation was much slower, it would have been very difficult to make this trip in this amount of time.
The characterization in this piece impacts the events, the plot, and of course, the audiences perception of the characters and their actions tremendously. Phileas Fogg has a habit of keeping the same routine, day in and day out, down to the exact minute. His tendency of being so timely allows Fogg to stay right on schedule, and even see where problems may occur in the future so he can allow extra time for such hold-ups. Passepartout, Foggs French servant is very loyal and holds true to this throughout the book. This loyalty ensures that he sticks with Fogg through the entire trip, danger or no danger.
The plot, while very drawn-out and uneventful most of the time, does have occasional moments of action. The book has a rescue scene, as well as a love story. These rare interest-grabbers allow the reader to acquire quick glimpses of the characters, attributes and emotions.
This also gives one a feeling of having travelled around the world through Phileas Fogg and Passpertout as they travel all over using their balloon air, and other transportation. The book gave me the feel of travelling to all the places that Jules Verne had mentioned in his Around the World in Eighty Days.
Shreyas S Nair
I PCMB ‘B ‘