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Old 09-16-2020, 11:07 AM   #31
Thasaidon
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I do know what you mean, and even agree to a certain extent. It is, after all, too late to punish long-dead authors for their mistakes,
How do you mean mistakes? Are they mistakes because we have different opinions now and disagree with their opinions? I wonder how many of our cherished opinions will be considered mistakes in 150 years time. A lot I bet. All we can say is whether ideas/opinions/ in a book are typical of society when it was written and whether the book actively promotes the ideas or treats them as just normal and everyday. We can also say such ideas are not acceptable today.

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I But, aside from instances where such criticism is handled poorly, in general I think it is a very good thing to have problems highlighted. Prejudice can be quite insidious and so it can be very helpful to get other people's perspectives and see where the problems lie.
As I have said elsewhere only if you get such information from a source you know you and can trust. Even then it can skew your perception due to confirmation bias.

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Also, it can be interesting to try and assess whether a work is better or worse than we might expect for the time, and maybe guess at what that tells us about the author.
Intereesting and informative. It is also something that is often ignored.

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Old 09-16-2020, 11:08 AM   #32
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We are back to Terry Pratchett's, Rosy Red Hen here. I also think I can hear Mrs. Grundy. You say it yourself "if we were not looking for it or had it in our heads that Verne was of that type of character."

If you look hard enough you will find it whether it exists or not.



If you have a friend or relation whose views you know well and can trust you can ask them what they think about the book This is not foolproof but is probably the best we can do.

If you have no one to ask then you cannot until you read the book

You then use your own judgement and not rely on the judgement of academics, critics and activists who all have an agenda they want you to adopt.

If you find a book genuinely disturbing because of the views it espouses and promotes stop reading it and read something you do like.
But I can give examples of some books I didn't like due to the racism and maybe someone might know enough about the book and/or author. For example, I won't read any books by H. Rider Haggard or Doroth Sayer (to know the last two book club authors I've read that I won't read again).
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:21 AM   #33
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Re the date: it's not about newspapers or Fogg being generally oblivious to anything but his own pursuit; it's about the schedules. The train times--are trains leaving at the same time every day, weekdays and weekends, as they travel the U.S.? Worse, the ships that crossed the Atlantic--how in the world do they arrive a day early, yet find their ship has sailed? It's absurd.
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:46 AM   #34
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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.
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I was particularly bothered by the treatment of Aouda throughout. As per normal in the adventure literature of the time, she was there to be threatened, rescued, and married. She is there to prop up and move forward the story of the male protagonists. I suppose that I should find it somewhat novel that she proposed marriage to him, but that did not make up for it for me.
Aouda was an underdeveloped character, but I was OK with that. I thought the description of her as seeming "European" simply indicated that she and the men were part of the same cultural framework and therefore shared the same sensibilities; she fit in, so we didn't need to deal with culture shock.

What's wrong with her being a secondary character to the men in an adventure story written in the 19th century? Her rescue lets us see Fogg as principled and heroic, when to that point he's been quite a prig. She could easily have been left in Hong Kong, as she served little purpose in the story till she was needed again for the plot at the end, but so what? Most of the men in the story are marginal as well, there only to provide obstacles or assistance as needed to advance the story.
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:54 AM   #35
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I don't believe anyone's mentioned Fix yet. I was reminded of the TV show The Fugitive, and Lieutenant Gerard's obsession with catching Richard Kimble; Gerard was supposedly modeled somewhat on Javert from Les Miserables, which led me to wonder if Fix was based on Javert. (I haven't read Les Mis; hence my roundabout thought process.)
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:36 PM   #36
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Aouda was an underdeveloped character, but I was OK with that. I thought the description of her as seeming "European" simply indicated that she and the men were part of the same cultural framework and therefore shared the same sensibilities; she fit in, so we didn't need to deal with culture shock.

What's wrong with her being a secondary character to the men in an adventure story written in the 19th century? Her rescue lets us see Fogg as principled and heroic, when to that point he's been quite a prig. She could easily have been left in Hong Kong, as she served little purpose in the story till she was needed again for the plot at the end, but so what? Most of the men in the story are marginal as well, there only to provide obstacles or assistance as needed to advance the story.
I wasn't going to bring this up, but making Aouda seem "European" just normalizes her so that it is not viewed as more of a mixed-race relationship when Fogg marries her. I don't think it was a short cut to ignoring the culture shock. But that is just my opinion, and I am not positing that it was definitely Verne's intent.

As to your second comment - there is nothing "wrong" with Aouda's position in the story, I was just explaining that it took away from my enjoyment. It bothered me enough to distract me, so it felt worthy of comment in the disicussion.
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Old 09-16-2020, 03:05 PM   #37
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I was completely surprised by this book. I only knew Verne by his reputation as an early sci-fi writer and was expecting a clockwork display of the marvels of modern travel, not a caper. Something much more like a World Fair exhibit. So it took me a while to adjust to the tone.

That said, once I got on the same page as Verne, I enjoyed the book, and am glad I finally read it. It was amusing and moved at a nice pace. I felt a bit of tension each time Fix showed up, or there was another setback.

In terms of the writing itself, I preferred Fix’s efforts to derail the journey and thought they were more believable than Passepartout’s shenanigans. Those were a bit too slapstick for my tastes, and felt contrived. Also, I didn’t think having Fix give Passepartout opium was in character for a lawman. Plus, we first met Passepartout, he wanted an uneventful life. Then his character seemed to do a complete turnaround. But the book is a caper, so the inconsistencies didn’t spoil it for me.

I thought that imperialism and other attitudes were very much on display, and it did make me cringe several times. However, I expected it, and also saw it more as a general reflection of the era, than specific to Verne.

In terms of the believability of the ending, I hadn’t read the book nor seen the movie. I thought Fogg had failed, and was disappointed. I completely forgot about the dateline. Since I fell for it 2020, I didn’t think was Verne out of line writing the ending in 1873.

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Old 09-16-2020, 03:45 PM   #38
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I wasn't going to bring this up, but making Aouda seem "European" just normalizes her so that it is not viewed as more of a mixed-race relationship when Fogg marries her. .
I thought it was a way to tamp down the mixed-race aspect too, when I read it, in addition to emphasizing their shared cultural framework.

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Old 09-16-2020, 03:54 PM   #39
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I thought there was a case of Munchhausen Syndrome going on here.
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Old 09-16-2020, 05:30 PM   #40
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First look at David Tennant in Around the World in 80 Days

It's coming to BBC (and I would think BBC America) in 2021.

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Old 09-16-2020, 05:39 PM   #41
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This is a fun video.

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Old 09-16-2020, 08:50 PM   #42
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Re the date: it's not about newspapers or Fogg being generally oblivious to anything but his own pursuit; it's about the schedules. The train times--are trains leaving at the same time every day, weekdays and weekends, as they travel the U.S.? Worse, the ships that crossed the Atlantic--how in the world do they arrive a day early, yet find their ship has sailed? It's absurd.
Good point re: the ship sailing. Certainly trains might be every day, but no way could the same ship be sailing every day!

That being said, if we're going to allow sledges "sailing" across the plains, then we can hardly quibble about the International Date Line being forgotten.
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Old 09-16-2020, 09:59 PM   #43
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I wasn't going to bring this up, but making Aouda seem "European" just normalizes her so that it is not viewed as more of a mixed-race relationship when Fogg marries her. I don't think it was a short cut to ignoring the culture shock. But that is just my opinion, and I am not positing that it was definitely Verne's intent.

As to your second comment - there is nothing "wrong" with Aouda's position in the story, I was just explaining that it took away from my enjoyment. It bothered me enough to distract me, so it felt worthy of comment in the disicussion.
This time around Aouda really stood out to me as underdeveloped; I had barely remembered that the character existed, and can now see why. The "European" thing I figured was mostly cop-out/shortcut rather than racist in itself, a way to make it so there were no language or cultural issues to deal with and Verne could get on with the story he wanted to tell. But it was a cop-out that was suggestive of the implicit prejudices of the times, that she had to be apparently European, and a princess, to be an acceptable love-interest for Fogg.
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:00 PM   #44
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But I can give examples of some books I didn't like due to the racism and maybe someone might know enough about the book and/or author. For example, I won't read any books by H. Rider Haggard or Doroth Sayer (to know the last two book club authors I've read that I won't read again).
I am sure you can. I did not say many books do not contain racist elements so if it bothers you stop reading it.

I said about racism "If you look hard enough you will find it whether it exists or not." and that goes for many other things as well.

Re Haggard a quote from Wikipedia

"His novels portray many of the stereotypes associated with colonialism, yet they are unusual for the degree of sympathy with which the native populations are portrayed. Africans often play heroic roles in the novels, although the protagonists are typically European (though not invariably). Notable examples are the heroic Zulu warrior Umslopogaas and Ignosi, the rightful king of Kukuanaland, in King Solomon's Mines."

If you read about his life I think you will find he was quite enlightened for his time, which is supported by how he writes about non Europeans (see wikipedia quote above).

I think he has been unfairly criticised because he is famous, closely associated with the British Empire, and dead. This makes him an easy target as he cannot argue his case with said critics.

Have you tried reading any of his non African books like "Eric Brighteyes" (vikings)?
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Old 09-17-2020, 04:09 AM   #45
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The French version left a little to be desired. Verne was not a master of the language. I liked this book more than the journeys to the moon and the center of the earth. Aouda was conveniently European, I suppose that was the best that could be expected of a dated writer like Verne.

Thanks for the link, JSWolf. Pierce Brosnan was a good cast as Fogg.
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