Around the World in 80 Days

Jules Verne (1828-1905)

On January 30, 1873, Jules Verne‘s famous novelAround the World in 80 Days‘ (Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours) was published by Pierre-Jules Hetzel in Paris, France. It is one of Jules Verne‘s most acclaimed stories, where Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager set by his friends at the London Reform Club.

Phileas Fogg lives at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens. He’s a rich bachelor, around 40 years of age, but nobody knows his source of his fortune. Overall, Phileas Fogg always lives life in clockwork precision. One day at the London Reform Club, Phileas Fogg, Flanagan, Fallentin, and Sullivan are talking about a recent bank robbery. This conversation leads to a wager on  £20,000, where Fogg is quite sure he can travel around the world in eighty days, while Sullivan doesn’t believe it can be done. Sullivan, Flanagan, and Fallentin think Fogg is not considering the unexpected. At the very same evening, Phileas Fogg is about to get on the train and start his expedition at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday 21 December 1872 together with his newly hired resourceful valet Jean Passepartout, who is caught unaware of the bet polishing shoes. Fogg tells Passepartout to pack only a few things, while everything else will be bought on the trip. The only luggage they will carry about is a carpet bag filled with £20,000.

This is the beginning of the fabulous plot and from now on we see how Phileas Fogg travels around the world and we witness the amazing adventures that he has together with his companions. While disembarking in Egypt, he is spotted by a dilligent Scotland Yard detective named Fix, who has been despatched from London in search of a bank robber. Because Fogg matches the description of the bank robber, Fix mistakenly believes Fogg to be the criminal. But since it is impossible to secure a warrant in time, Fix goes on board the steamer crossing the Suez Canal directed to Bombay. During the voyage, Fix gets acquainted with Passepartout, but does not reveal his purpose for following them on the journey. Passepartout and Fogg have no idea about Fix’s true intentions, who wants to get Fogg back to England so that he can arrest him.

Map of the trip in Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

On his way in India Phileas Fogg learns about the barbaric practice of ‘Suttee’, i.e. burning of a woman after the death of her husband. The designated victim Aouda is an educated lady, who was married against her will to the old Rajah of Bundelkund. But, Phileas Fogg decides to save the woman and succeeds to abduct her by tricking the guards. Aouda and Fogg eventually fall in love and marry at the end of the book. The threesome visit Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, and the Wild West. Only hours short of winning his wager, Fogg is arrested by Inspector Fix. Though exonerated of the bank robbery charges, he seems to have lost everything, but the story continues…

Actually, in 1872 Thomas Cook, inventor of the travel agency business, organised the first around the world tourist trip, leaving on 20 September 1872 and returning seven months later, which probably served as a spark for the idea of the book. Several years later, in 1889, journalist Nellie Bly undertook to travel around the world in 80 days for her newspaper, the New York World. She managed to do the journey within 72 days, meeting Verne himself in Amiens. Her own book about the trip, Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, also became a best seller.

At yovisto you can watch a very early movie adaption of one of Jule Verne’s best known books ‘La voyage dans la lune‘ (A trip to the moon) from George Melies produced in 1902.

References and Further Reading:

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