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Old 09-15-2020, 01:12 PM   #1
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Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

It's time to discuss our book for September, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne



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The story starts in London on Wednesday, 2 October 1872.

Phileas Fogg is a rich British gentleman living in solitude. Despite his wealth, Fogg lives a modest life with habits carried out with mathematical precision. Very little can be said about his social life other than that he is a member of the Reform Club, where he spends much of every day. Having dismissed his former valet, James Forster, for bringing him shaving water at 84 °F (29 °C) instead of 86 °F (30 °C), Fogg hires Frenchman Jean Passepartout as a replacement.

At the Reform Club, Fogg gets involved in an argument over an article in The Daily Telegraph stating that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for £20,000, half of his total fortune, from his fellow club members to complete such a journey within this time period. With Passepartout accompanying him, Fogg departs from London by train at 8:45 p.m. on 2 October; in order to win the wager, he must return to the club by this same time on 21 December, 80 days later. They take the remaining £20,000 of Fogg's fortune with them to cover expenses during the journey.
So, what did everyone think?

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Old 09-15-2020, 01:20 PM   #2
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A quick comment, with more to follow. I quite enjoyed this book, though there was racism present, especially in the portrayal of First Nations in the US. It wasn't, however, more than one would have expected from the time (and nationality) of the author, who could have had no first hand knowledge of the American West or its indigenous inhabitants.

My enjoyment of Around the World in 80 Days was greatly enhanced by Patrick Tull's narration of the audio book.
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Old 09-15-2020, 02:32 PM   #3
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This book was my first book by Jules Verne. I knew of the very popular 20000 Leagues under the Sea and A Journey to the Centre of the Earth. However I was surprised to find out that his writing was so prolific and that this book was #11 in the Voyages Extraordinaires series. According to Fantastic Fiction there are 54 books in the series! I am curious to hear how this book compares to others by someone who has read them.
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:06 PM   #4
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I read several of them in my youth, but I have no memory of them now. All my memories are of the movies!

One thing that caught me after also watching the movie from 1956 with David Niven and Cantinflas was how much the role of Passepartout has been increased in the film. This was, as I understand it, because Cantinflas was a huge international star who drove sales outside of just the US. Don't know, but seems plausible.

The other thing I noticed was that the movie starts with a balloon journey. Which, of course, is a complete departure from the book. Overall, I was surprised by the quality of the picture from that quite old movie, which translated to HD quite well.
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Old 09-15-2020, 04:35 PM   #5
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Thanks! We’ve been watching a lot of old movies this year so maybe I’ll check that out.
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:31 PM   #6
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I found the book quite entertaining; I listened to the Random House/Listening Library audiobook. A lot of my enjoyment came from Jim Dale's terrific narration (though for some reason it includes annoying sound effects). I think the translation of this version was quite good (Michael Glencross); it didn't seem as stodgy as the Gutenberg text I occasionally referred to.

The gimmicky end annoyed me; wouldn't the crossing of the International Date Line have thrown off all the train schedules as they traversed the U.S., such that they would have realized the discrepancy? (Not to mention that it's hard to believe Fogg hadn't taken it into account.) I expected the ending; possibly I read the book long ago (or it might have been a Classics Illustrated comic!).

I know I saw the movie, though all I remember is Cantinflas's bullfight and a zillion cameos of Hollywood actors.
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:57 PM   #7
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I found the ending to be a bit iof a deus ex machina.

Overall I like this. The one thing I didn't like was the summary of the chapter at the beginning of every chapter. Kind of gave away was was going to happen.

I do remember the movie having a balloon journey. But that was not any part of the book.
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Old 09-15-2020, 06:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I know I saw the movie, though all I remember is Cantinflas's bullfight and a zillion cameos of Hollywood actors.
I can't remember a single actor of note that didn't find their way into the film! Cameos to the left, cameos to the right and cameos centre stage.
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:02 AM   #9
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I liked it. It was much lighter and easier than some of Verne's other work. I enjoy Verne much more when he lets his humour show, as he does here, and in "From the Earth to the Moon" (the first half of what is completed with "Around the Moon" - together called "The Moon Voyage").

There was some of the expected racism, sexism and classism - all coming together in the description our Princess Aouda: "from her manners and intelligence, would be thought an European." But no more than expected, it seemed to me.

As to the dénouement, with Verne being a science fiction writer, the missing day was most likely the starting point and raison d'être for the story. As for the common criticism that is should have been so obvious...

When in America, if Fogg saw a newspaper with what seems to be yesterday's date, is he necessarily going to question that? He is not familiar with America, so if he looked out the window and sees streets quieter or busier than might be expected for the supposed day of the week, how is he going to know it is unusual? And is he even going to look? Right from the start the author highlights how little interest Fogg has in being a tourist. Mostly Fogg locks himself away and pays little attention to what is going on outside. I thought the author was almost overdoing his hints in this regard, but then I already knew what was coming.

A missing day seems so unlikely to modern readers, we who live by the clock and the day of the week, but back then? I thought it was played quite well. An astute reader may have picked up on the hints and been laughing up their sleeve at Fogg, and for the others the back story seems to me, if not perfect, then good enough.

Last edited by gmw; 09-16-2020 at 12:28 AM. Reason: typos typos ... interruptions ... and more typos.
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
A missing day seems so unlikely to modern readers, we who live by the clock and the day of the week, but back then? I thought it was played quite well. An astute reader may have picked up on the hints and been laughing up their sleeve at Fogg, and for the others the back story seems to me, if not perfect, then good enough.
Interesting point. I thought it was pretty heavily hinted early - like around 20% or so with the watch discussion - but I hadn’t thought about it from a modern versus back then concept of time.

I read the Bantam Classics version from my library. Sounds like the book was better as an audioboook.
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:40 AM   #11
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I don't know that it was better as an audio book, but it is the sort of book that lends itself to audio. There aren't too many characters to keep track of (try a Dickens sometime, or one of the Russians!), and good narrators actually enhances the flow and humour of the book they read. Of course a bad narrator... <shudder>
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bookworm_Girl View Post
Interesting point. I thought it was pretty heavily hinted early - like around 20% or so with the watch discussion - but I hadn’t thought about it from a modern versus back then concept of time.

I read the Bantam Classics version from my library. Sounds like the book was better as an audioboook.
I have not yet tried an audiobook, at all, so can't really say. I read the edition from here on MobileRead (prepared by HarryT) because it was already on my reader. I'm assuming/guessing that makes it the George Makepeace Towle translation, but have not confirmed that. I was tempted to try the new William Butcher (Oxford World Classics) translation but ended up taking the easy/fast/cheap way out.

I think it's not just that our concept of time has changed, but also the class system itself that has an impact on how the events might have played out back then. Passepartout does so much for Fogg that Fogg himself might never have had to confront an up to date calendar. Yes, Fogg was getting his passport visaed regularly, but how much attention would he have been paying to the ink smears? Especially by the time he reached America. He was probably chatting to whoever was in charge while some lackey took care of the details.

He had obviously reviewed schedules before he left, but everything had to be left open. On arrival in San Francisco we are told that he determines the next train leaves at 6pm, there is no need to verify a date for today, Fogg thinks he already knows. (Or am I the only one that has been known to switch off when hearing stuff I think I already know ... oh dear, what a terrible admission. )
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:13 AM   #13
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I loved the book and Patrick Tull’s narration certainly enhanced the experience. I much preferred this book to Verne‘s Journey To The Centre of the Earth, the Moon books or Off on a Comet. The characters were entertaining types—if not always believable—and the story rattled along nicely. The ending did seem a bit lame because it isn’t really credible that the obsessively punctilious Fogg would have forgotten that the International Date Line would have caused him to arrive a day early. But there’s lots of fun on the way.

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Old 09-16-2020, 05:05 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by gmw View Post
an European
This mistake is one of my pet peeves that would drop me out of a book. It's "a European".

https://www.quora.com/Which-is-corre...n%E2%80%9D-Why
Quote:
  • “a European” (CORRECT)
  • “an European” (WRONG)

Whether we use “a” or “an” is more directly related to how the beginning of a word is pronounced out-loud, than how the word is spelled.

“European” begins with a consonant sound. In fact the beginning of “European” has the same sound as the following words:
  • yard
  • year
  • yellow
  • yes
  • yet
  • you
  • young
  • your

The letter “y” is sometimes used as a consonant When I say that “European” begins with a Y-sound, I mean the consonant “y,” not the vowel. The word below all use the vowel-variant of the letter “y.” If you learn nothing else from this, I hope that you will realize that English spelling is atrocious. It would make sense to keep the way people speak English out-loud the same, but devise a new writing system such that:
  • there is a one-to-one correspondence between written letters and sounds
  • an English word can be turned from writing into sound by reading each letter from left-to-right out-loud.
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Old 09-16-2020, 05:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by gmw View Post
When in America, if Fogg saw a newspaper with what seems to be yesterday's date, is he necessarily going to question that?
I think he would if he knew that it was today's paper and not yesterday's.
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