Around the World in 80 days (1873)
By Jules Verne (1828 – 1905)
Around the World in 80 days was written during a time of war between France and Prussia. The story centers around an eccentric English gentleman and his French servant, Passepartout. The English gentleman, Mr. Phileas Fogg, enters into a wager whereby he will circumnavigate the globe and return to his starting point exactly 80 days from the starting date. The wager was between Mr. Fogg and friends in the “Reform Club”, an organization of wealthy men.
This voyage would not have been possible earlier than the 1870s as the innovations such as railroad travel and steam engines would have made this time frame impossible. Mr. Phileas Fogg was nothing if not methodical. He diligently planned the entire journey including rail time tables and financial budgeting.
The travelers had many adventures along the way. The team had to deal with bank robberies and travel on the backs of elephants. In India, they combated savages that were about to sacrifice a woman. The travelers saved the woman and escaped with their lives. In the United States, the adventures battled native American Indians that attacked their train. Passepartout was captured by the Indians during the fight and Mr. Fogg was forced to delay his travels and give chase to the Indians with a troop of US cavalry at his side. The chase was successful in saving Passepartout, but resulted in Mr. Fogg losing valuable time in his journey. He was now likely to lose his wager.
Even though Mr. Fogg and company were now significantly behind schedule, he was not going to give up. The group desperately tried to move very quickly and slowly, but surely, he made up lost time. After 81 days had passed, the travelers entered London. Mr. Fogg believed that he had lost the wager. As methodical and organized as Mr. Fogg was, he did not take into account the fact that by traveling Eastward, he would actually gain an additional day. While Mr. Fogg and Passepartout actually slept 81 times, only 80 days on the calendar in London had passed. Mr. Fogg had won his wager.
This work by Jules Verne is one of his classics. It has been made into several movies, including the 1956 version by the same name. That version starred David Niven as Phileas Fogg and Mario Moreno as Passepartout. The 2004 version of 80 days starred Jackie Chan as Passepartout and Stephen Coogan as Mr. Fogg.
All in all, this work is a very easy read and an exciting adventure story. Although this is somewhat different than other works by Verne (many of his other works were early science fiction), it is easily one of the classics of the time.