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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

cover of 'Around the World in 80 Days' by Jules Verne

The story of the cool, collected, imperturbable Englishman Phileas Fogg and his passionate, good-hearted, sometimes hapless manservant, the Frenchman Jean Passepartout, and their famous trip around the world. Fogg lives his life completely by regimen, every day the same down to the minute he arrives at the Reform Club (he fired his previous servant because he couldn't keep up that schedule). Then, suddenly, on a bet-- to prove it can be done, and that "the unforeseen does not exist"-- he sets off around the world. He doesn't do it for the money that is wagered; in fact, he spends nearly all of the remaining half of his fortune that he didn't wager, so by winning he just breaks even. He doesn't do it for the adventure or to see the sights; Passepartout does quite a bit more looking at sights than Fogg, who is simply planning his next train or steamer. Certainly, Fogg doesn't shy away from adventure-- he saves Auoda from suttee because he has time, and he calmly and repeatedly bails out Passepartout, even to the point of chasing after American Indians to rescue him.

There are so many movie versions of this story; I've seen some of them, although certainly not all. In my experience, they always exaggerate the adventures and problems that Fogg runs into; as written in the book, he's not a very good romantic hero for a movie, because he seems too cold and impassive. For instance, the book glosses almost entirely over the beginning of their trip as though go through Europe (although perhaps this is because they are still in the "civilized" world, where everything is connected and trains run on time). The book is shorter than you might think, but there is still plenty of entertaining adventure.

There's even a bit of mystery about Fogg, since we never learn his background or motivation. When Fogg commandeers the ship on the last leg of the trip, from the U.S. to Europe (which he only does in order to arrive in England on time), it is clear to everyone by his knowledge of the craft that he was once a sailor-- but this seems a bit at odds with his gentleman-like appearance and demeanor the rest of the time.

Read a free, public domain ebook from Project Gutenberg.

Title:Around the World in 80 Days
Author:Jules Verne
Date published:1873
Number of pages:142
Notes:repeat reading


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