What is the main point of around the world in 80 days?

French author Jules Verne’s sci-fi classic ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ is a riveting story that perfectly captures the spirit of adventure and is impossible to put down. Let us find out why this story resonates with modern readers.

A weekly column that introduces young readers to the world of literary classics. It focusses on one celebrated book each week and finds out what makes it relevant today.

About the author

Jules Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France in a well-to-do family. His father was an attorney andok his mother came from a long line of navigators and ship owners.

He spent his childhood in a small maritime port city. Nantes and would often visit the docks to see the ships arrive and depart. This set-up gave a boost to the future sci-fi writer’s imagination and instiled a love for travel and adventure in him. The author took to writing while he was still at school. His passion, however, was not favoured by his father, who wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer.

When the young man went to University in Paris to study law, he fell in love with literature and theatre all over again. He decided to stay in Paris instead of joining his father’s law firm after his graduation. Verne took up a low-paying job at a Parisian theatre and started putting up and writing his own plays.

Known for his experimental take on the classic adventure novel, Verne is famed as the father of the science fiction genre. A masterful genius and a storyteller with an awesome imagination, his books are loved across the globe although they were originally written in French. His works are translated into around 150 languages, which makes him the second most translated author to have lived after Agatha Christie. Verne became famous and gained a large readership after the publication of his voyages Extraordinaires, a series of 54 novels that were originally published by the French publisher and author Pierre-Jules Hetzel between 1863 and 1905. Some of his most celebrated novels from the series include Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864). From the Earth to the Moon (1865). Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (late 1869-70), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1872).

Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days is an adventure novel that chronicles the thrilling journey of the meticulous English gentleman Phileas Fogg and his French valet Passepartout as they attempt to traverse the globe in eighty days to win a wager of £20,000 set by his friends at the Reform Club. Along the way, the two are interrogated by a Scotland Yard detective named Fix, who believes Fogg has robbed the Bank of England. During the course of this journey, the travelling duo also rescues an Indian princess named Aouda, from being sacrificed as a sati (Sanskrit for good wife) at her husband’s funeral pyre.

Exploring the scope of globalisation

This novel ushered in the idea that the world was shrinking with the aid of modern means of transportation and communication. It captured the Scope of globalisation and the role technology plays in allowing exploration and inter-mingling of different human societies in ways that was largely absent in literature before.

Inspiring a sub-genre of sci-fi

Verne’s works often highlight the authors fascination with technology and scientific discoveries. Coined in 1987 by American sci-fi author K.W. Jester, the sub-genre of sci-fi called steampunk draws inspiration from the adventurous and futuristic writing of English authors Jules Verne. Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells and the Industrial revolution that rapidly gained pace during Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901) championing the power of steam.

Phileas Fogg’s ambition and can-do attitude can be credited with turning a potentially ruinous bet into an adventure of a lifetime. This kind of belief that partnering technology and courage can help one conquer the unknown is fundamental to Verne’s stories and to steampunk’s individualist culture. making it relevant today.

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