Sunday, July 10, 2011

Around the World In 80 Days by Jules Verne

At 11:00 AM, on Friday, July 15, the Fantastic Fictioneers (JCPL's Book Discussion Group) will talk about Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days.  Imagine "The Great Race" in 1872. Travel by rail, steamer, and elephant - yes, elephant - move our globe-trotting heros along.

Englishman Phileas Fogg, a wealthy, strong, silent type and his newly hired man-servant Passpartout are off on their adventures. A journey, not for sightseeing, studying foreign cultures, or enjoying local customs but on a bet.  Phileas Fogg has wagered 20,000 pounds (2.11 million in today's dollars) that traveling around the world could be accomplished in 80 days.

Mr. Fogg has the trip planned to the hour and he, along with Passpartout, set out on October 2, 1872. Their goal is to return to London by December 2, eighty days later. Unknown to Fogg, a Scotland Yard detective is following them. He believes Fogg matches the description of a London bank robber and is escaping the country with his haul from the bank.

Fogg, Passpartout, and the detective are met with adventures - or rather misadventures - that are dangerous, exciting, and often comical. Especially enjoyable is their journey across the United States including encounters with bison and Native Americans.

My only disappointment was that the travelers never used a hot air balloon. That means of transportation  was created by Hollywood in the 1956 movie adaption of Verne's book.

Enjoy the book! Learn about world customs, geography, and history. Get to know two of the most quirky characters in literature.

Jane Kaufman

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