Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: An unmarried by mathematically precise Englishman dismisses his valet for heating his shaving water two degrees cooler than usual. He hires a French valet to replace him and the two of them set off to travel around the world in eighty days - a supposedly possible feat, now that the Indian railways have been built. If they succeed they will win a fortune off the other members of the Reform Club..
Original publication date
I was surprised to realize that I had probably never read the unabridged version of this story. I have a vague recollection of one of those Great Illustrated Classics, with a truly terrifying illustration of Passepartout in the opium den. Though I'm familiar with many of Verne's plots, I haven't really sat down with one of his books as an adult reader. I see I will have to rectify that.
Phileas Fogg is an eccentric English gentleman who has followed an unvarying pattern — to the minute — for most of his life. He is meticulous down to the temperature of his shaving water, and when his manservant brings him water that is two degrees too cold, Mr. Fogg has no alternative but to fire him. We arrive at the house in Savile Row the day the new servant, Passepartout, is to begin work. Passepartout is delighted at the prospect of a well-ordered, established life, but it is not to be. That very night, Fogg makes a twenty-thousand-pound bet at his club that he can travel around the world in eighty days. To the astonishment of his colleagues, who are well accustomed to his precise and unvarying life, Fogg sets out that very evening on his madcap voyage.
There is an interesting correlation between this story and that of Les Misérables; though completely opposite in tone and plot, both feature a legalistic, misled police inspector trailing the hero on all his journeys. Both inspectors step in to wreak ruin upon their quarry at the worst possible moment, and both, in the end, are foiled. That is probably as far as the comparison goes, but isn't it interesting? Les Misérables was published in 1862, and Around the World in Eighty Days in serial form in 1873.
I love Verne's descriptions; they are often so wryly humorous. Anyone who thinks classics are boring and slow really ought to read this book. He says that Fogg is "like an incarnation of the god of punctuality," and continually calls Passepartout a "dear fellow." Inspector Fix is also a very humorous and yet well-rounded character. Of Mrs. Aouda, alas, we do not see much.
I can't praise Jim Dale's reading enough; it was wonderful. His voices for the characters were superb. The only weakness was his voice for Mrs. Aouda, but it seems a common failing among male actors; they never can get the women's voices so well as the female actors can get the men's. But apart from that small quibble, I loved Dale's interpretation, especially of the beloved Passepartout! I will always hear his slightly breathless, emphatic, strongly accented voice in my head when I think of the character. (I should mention that another thing I love about audiobooks is that I learn how to pronounce all the words and names... Passepartout is pronounced "Paspertoo;" who knew?).
And now for the banal little talk at the end, given by the son of the man who started the Listening Library company (now owned by Random House). First off, the poor man's voice is not a pleasure to listen to after Dale's warm, rolling tones. It's nasally, effeminate, and just plain annoying. Even had his script been wonderful, it would have been hard to appreciate, read by that unfortunate voice.
And what he says is bad enough on its own account. Does Listening Library commend Verne for being interested in other countries and cultures, for opening new vistas to his readers, and demonstrating a vivid curiosity about the fascinating world around him? Do they praise his enthusiasm for the exotic and share his excitement for the geographical limitations that technology was removing? Oh no. Instead, the publishers chose to disparage his work as "unacceptable" by today's standards in its portrayal of "certain social structures" and "other cultures." Verne, they self-righteously sniff, displays a staggering "naivete" and "lack of appreciation and experience" for the various cultures that his characters encounter.
Sure, Verne had an imperfect understanding of the many cultures in his book. Do we, in chronological snobbery, really think our appreciation of every culture and "social structure" so perfect? Actually I was rather disappointed that the publisher did not actually mention the specific issues with the story, preferring rather to take the safe route of vague, lofty accusation. It's a good thing readers are generally intelligent enough to pick out these things for ourselves — where, oh where would we be without Listening Library to mold our minds? And there are textual refutations to their sweeping claims, if they would but condescend to play fair and be specific about what's giving them indigestion.
I find it absurd and unfair to judge a historical figure by modern standards. I think if any sermon must be made of the book's relative level of 21st-century political correctness or lack thereof (again, assuming we readers aren't astute enough to pick it out for ourselves), it ought to focus on the themes of the story rather than passing judgment on the author.
The cover art for this audiobook is further proof of the publisher's cluelessness. It features a large hot-air balloon... which Phileas Fogg never takes. Verne mentions a balloon for about two seconds as a method of travel that would most certainly not work for Mr. Fogg — and then the cover sports one prominently. *sigh*
But I don't want to leave you with all this negativity. The rating I am giving is strictly for the book. Random House/Listening Library's hamfisted approach is such a pity, because the actual production was excellent. I enjoyed the ethnic music that opened each new chapter, and of course Dale was great. And I suppose it's good the publishers didn't excise the parts they didn't like; this is unabridged, after all. But it's a 50th anniversary tribute to Listening Library's first audiobook production, which was this book. It might look bad if they interfered with the actual text itself.
If you think you are intelligent enough to perceive ideas that are in alignment with their historical setting (and actually, perhaps, ahead of their time) — if you're sure you won't suddenly morph into a bigot under Verne's pernicious influence — you really ought to give this book a try. It's funny, well written, and adventurous, and you'll enjoy every minute of Phileas Fogg's eighty days around the world. I certainly did. Highly recommended!
The first thing I found interesting was the character of Phileas Fogg. Based solely on my knowledge of the plot, I had expected him to be some wild and crazy madcap character with all sorts of outrageous behavior. Instead, Verne spends the first many pages showing us that Fogg is very much a creature of habit with ordinary behaviors. If anything, Fogg is a bit boring as a character. He has a precise daily and weekly schedule dictating when he wakes, when he sleeps, when he eats and everything he does in between. He doesn't have any extravagant hobbies or pastimes and doesn't do much of anything to engage in social events of the day. His flippant and sudden placing of the bet seems out of character and is quickly followed by quick adaptation to a new schedule as he immediately rushes home from his club, packs a quick bag, grabs his servant and proceeds to his first destination. Even in his quick trip, we seldom see him Fogg rushing or impetuous in any way. He is the picture of calm even as his trip faces adversity.
As a contrast to Fogg, his servant Passepartout is a very emotional character full of as much passion and frustration as Fogg is full of calm. Passepartout is stymied by his master's wager but rushes along with him on the adventure, excited to see the world. He is dismayed as he realizes that the whirlwind tour will result primarily in him seeing the cabins of ships or trains and very little of the world they're passing through. With each obstacle that comes their way, Passepartout practically shrieks in frustration and really adds to the sense of suspense and tension in the adventure. He is a great counter to Fogg's character and really helped make the book more entertaining.
Beyond the effects of nature or problems with transportation, the main obstacle facing Fogg is Inspector Fix from Scotland Yard. The Bank of England has recently been robbed by a man matching Fogg's description. When set alongside Fogg's erratic change in behavior and his willingness to throw insane sums of money at ship's captains and train engineer's, there is a very strong argument that Fogg could be the thief. Verne very carefully keeps details of the robbery hidden and makes sure that we are closely aligned with Fix's prejudices and beliefs. I had a hard time deciding whether or not Fogg was truly the bank thief or if it was merely an unfortunate coincidence. The interactions with Fix are humorous but distanced. Fix is waiting for his arrest warrant to arrive and until then he tries to stay just out of site of Fogg while also delaying his progress so that the warrant will catch up with them and allow an arrest to be made. The entire situation leads to some rather funny encounters.
I really enjoyed the meticulous way in which Verne outlines the voyage. We sit with Fogg as he consults timetables and records his progress. There is a very careful accounting of days, weeks and hours. Alongside this, and usually alongside Passepartout rather than Fogg, Verne presents some fun narrative and adventures that give insight into a variety of different locations and cultures. For the late 19th century this was surely a lot of the novelty and appeal of the story. Even in the 21st century I applaud his presentation of these distant cultures. The technology and ideas are a bit dated, but there is still a sense of wonder, education and enjoyment that goes beyond the years.
My biggest complaint comes in the final section of the novel.
SPOILER ALERT - this next paragraph contains a spoiler about Fogg's eventual completion of his trip
When Fogg finally returns to London after overcoming numerous obstacles in amazing ways, he is distraught. Upon consulting his trusty notebook, he finds that he is at exactly 80 days. However, the wager included a TIME of day to ensure the voyage was completed in precisely 80 days of 24 hours. Unfortunately it looks as though Fogg has arrived a few minutes late. Rather than return to the club and consult his friends and concede defeat, Fogg returns home with his companions and goes to sleep. The next day he mopes about most of the day and then later sends Passepartout on an errand. Passepartout returns frantically informing his master that an error has been made and TODAY is the end of the wager and that if Fogg hurries, he can make it to the club in time. Fogg races through the streets to arrive at the club and win the bet. The reason for the miscalculation is presented by Verne essentially as the fact that Fogg traveled Eastward around the globe and crossed the "date line" effectively losing a calendar day and traveling a full 24-hours for free. This is all well and good and scientifically sound...where the problem breaks down for me is the fact that the original bet included a DATE on which Fogg should return. And every leg of the journey, Fogg is consulting time tables many times involving identifying the day and date that a transport will depart. Even as Fogg leaves the East coast of the U.S., day numbers are presented. As such, the exact DATE is perfectly known to Fogg and his companions. Thus, even if he did tally off 81 "days" of 24 hours in his notebook, it would have been VERY clear that they were right on time simply by consulting the timetables, the newspaper or any other item that they frequently looked at. The twist/surprise ending was entertaining but the logic of it fell apart for me.
END OF SPOILER
Overall I really enjoyed the story. It was a fun adventure with some great details and wonderful characters. The writing was engaging and the plot was a lot of fun. As I mentioned before, even though aspects of the science and technology are certainly dated (after all, you can now travel around the world in a single day), they are a joy to read and make me want to seek out more books from this father of science fiction.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Like our hero, I was transported from start to finish of Phileas Fogg's incredible journey; before that, in fact, for his introduction by the author and his calm placing of a £20,000 wager against his friends in the Reform Club had me immediately engaged.
Verne's adroit use of point of view is one example of his masterful skills as story-teller. He never permits the reader Fogg's internal perspective on a situation - instead telling the story partly authorially and partly though Passepartout or Fix, fellow-passengers with opposing views of the protagonist. As a result we never lose the sense of Fogg as an enigma (note his name), never have any advance notice of his planning, while his ability to extemporise solutions to overcome seemingly impossible barriers is our constant surprise and delight.
Paradoxically, the less we know about him the more interesting and intriguing he becomes, and the stronger the bond we feel both for Fogg and those he protects. We can easily comprehend the hero-worship of Passepartout and the love interest of Aouda, for we share it.
Fogg has few compeers in English literature that I can think of, though it strikes me that Ian Fleming may have had something of Fogg in mind when he created the generally imperturbable and resourceful James Bond. Verne's creation, though, for me is the greater hero, and the more memorable.
It's interesting that, while there are lots of characters
This story lends itself well to reading aloud or listening to on audio. I listened to an audio version on a road trip and it made the time pass quickly.
The answer is "All of them - and good on it for that."
I had known about the whole sati episode, so I was prepared
Aouda does get to make a pretty fantastic marriage proposal. It's a pity: she could do a lot better than some rich dude who proves that it's possible to travel around the world in 80 days if you have (in 2022 money) millions of pounds to throw at every obstacle in your path and don't mind occasionally skipping bail and fomenting mutiny.
The book, Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne is a book about a man named Phileas Fogg who claims that it is possible to travel around the world in eighty days. He then gets challenged to do this himself. This book gets more exciting and
One of the main reasons this book keeps you on the edge of your seat is that you don't know if Phileas will be able to make the deadline and win the bet of traveling around the world in eighty days. Also, throughout the course of the book Phileas turns from a cold calculative man, to a more outgoing energetic man. “I say, you do have a heart!' “Sometimes,” he replied, 'When I have the time.” This quote shows that the character is still his old self partly, but he has also transformed into a warmer person.
Like many adventures, money is something that drives this story, “A true Englishman doesn't joke when he is talking about so serious a thing as a wager.” That wager is something that enhances the story and makes it more exciting.
Jules Verne has produced a number of adventure novels, but none quite like this one. This book shows just how mad adventure can be. If you love adventure novels, you should definitely check this book out. Jules Verne makes adventure come to life in Around the World in Eighty Days.
The film versions of this books often make this story more exotic and fantastical than it really is, turning Fogg into some sort of an inventor, who sets off in his journey in an air balloon. But Fogg uses regular means of travel in this books, ships, trains, and even on elephant, but there are no balloons. Verne did pen another adventure story, called Five Weeks in a Balloon, in which travels travel across Africa in a hot air balloon (this is on my list to read).
That being said, I enjoyed Around the World immensely. Because the book was orginally written as a serial, the chapters are each vignette in which Fogg and his companions meets an obstacle and then over comes it. Verne's characters are something like caricatures, but the have enough depth to be fully entertaining.
This is only the second book of Verne's that I have read, but he is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.
It's a remarkable journey full of action, suspense, and absurd comedy. And of course, that comical Vistorian xenophobia -- though doubtless it is more humorous for the reader than it was in international business relationships.
Focused on his goal, and only his goal, Fogg does his level best to bring England with him, and not experience even a trace of other cultures. That alone is worth the price of admission.
I don't think I would have had the patience for this tale when I was younger, so I'm glad to have finally gotten around to it now. Certainly, I'd recommend it.
One of the books in Verne’s series of “Extraordinary Voyages” begins when Phileas Fogg accepts a wager at his gentleman’s club. He’s certain that he will be able to circumnavigate the world in eighty days. Taking a significant amount of
I’d seen more than one movie adaptation but had never read the book until now. What a delight! (Although, of course, there are some racial stereotypes that grate on the modern reader’s sensibilities.)
I marveled at how cool and collected – almost uninterested – Fogg remained throughout. He is never upset or even particularly inconvenienced. He moves with the certainty that he is correct in assuming that he can achieve this great task. Passepartout on the other hand is in a dither frequently, and he is a wonderful foil for Fogg … and for Detective Fix.
One quibble re cover art. SO many covers (as well as the movies) show the iconic hot-air balloon … which is NEVER used in the book!
Frederick Davidson does a marvelous job narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace and I loved the way he interpreted the characters. I was happy also to have a text copy available, which included a handful of full-color illustrations, as well as a small drawing of the mode of travel for each of the chapters.
As to the text, Verne's classic tale is somewhat dated and very different from what we've come to expect based on modern film versions. Indeed, despite the cover art, I was
One has to read the right books at the right time, especially in childhood. Frankly, one has to read in childhood - this point is critical.
The more I think about it, the more I'm sure that it was this book that caused me to become so obsessed with travel. I've always dreamt of far-away places, and having read this book during my formative years, and having loved every page, there's a strong possibility that I owe Verne my very ambitions. Thank you, sir.