Thursday, June 10, 2010

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne - Book Review #33

Thursday, June 10, 2010
Around the World in Eighty Days
by Jules Verne

In Around the World in Eighty Days, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days, and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant, Passepartout. Traveling by train, steamship, sailboat, sledge, and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks, and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard to win the extraordinary wager.

Around the World in Eighty Days is a fabulous adventure full of suspense set during the heights of British Empire. This is the story about honorable, heroic and ingenious gentlemen for whom it seems to be no obstacle that cannot be overcame. It is about friendship and loyalty, about gentle and beautiful lady, remorseless enemies and of cause the race against the time. This is all flavored with cultures around the world and spiced with grand crime. What can be better?

I didn’t like Jules Verne when I was a child. The only book of his that was able to finish was Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea out of countless that I started to read. One of the unfinished in my childhood book was Around the World in Eighty Days. I didn’t like Jules Verne, because of his encyclopedia- like descriptions that bored and annoyed me. Jules Verne’s books for me never were a fictional works, but rather textbooks wrapped up in fiction. Nevertheless, despite his descriptions of steamboat and what kind of mileage it can do or the percentage of salt in the lake, I loved Around the World in Eighty Days this time I read it.

It is undeniably curious to look at the world with the eyes of the person who lived in 1872 and while doing so you could not agree more with Phileas Fogg that the world has definitely shrank. Even though the tremendous research that Jules Verne must have done to write this book is recognizably valuable, I think that the characters he created deserve much more attention.

Phileas Fogg is rational and punctual, the person of habits, for whom nothing, as it seems, can be unexpected, interesting or amazing, except for his goal and his habits. Passepartout – a full of life and humor, a person with a brave and open heart. These two quite opposite characters complete each other nicely and enchant sometimes too dry descriptions, bringing story to life.

To everyone who hasn’t read this – read it! Read it yourself. If you have children – read it to them and bring alone an atlas, it should be fun for them to follow Phileas Fogg and Passepartout’s journey around the world.


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