Around the World in Eighty Days: A Bold, Page Turning, and Adventurous Narrative

Written by Dito Fajar

source: penguin.co.nz

Introduction

Around the World in Eighty Days is a fiction novel written by Jules Verne, a worldly famous author who invented and pioneered the science-fiction genre. This novel itself is published in 1873 as the eleventh part of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaire, which consists of fifty-four novels, originally published between 1863 and 1905. Many of Jules Verne’s books were adapted into movies, and Around the World in Eighty Days itself had earned its movie adaptation in 2004, which casted Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan.

The Character and Narrative

Around the World in Eighty Days is engrossing and fascinating to read. Even though the narrative is simple and straightforward, it will keep your eyes fixed on the book, turning the pages non-stop. The book tells the story of an English gentleman named Phileas Fogg that wagers half of his fortune to prove that it is possible to go around the world in eighty days. During the journey, he is accompanied by his french servant named Jean Passerpartout. Mr. Fogg is an interesting character, he can be described as a silent, stoic, and exact person. Within his exact day-to-day schedule, his sole pastimes activities are reading the papers and playing whist, a classic English trick-taking card game that was widely played in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As quoted from the books, “Phileas Fogg was, indeed, exactitude personified, and this was betrayed even in the expression of his very hands and feet; for in men, as well as in animals, the limbs themselves are expressive of the passions. He was so exact that he was never in a hurry, was always ready, and was economical alike of his steps and his motions. He never took one step too many, and always went to his destination by the shortest cut.”

Source: unsplash.com

Jean Passerpartout is also interesting interesting. He is an honest, soft mannered fellow, but fiery when evoked. He is also humorous and joyous, expressing everything he is feeling, the complete opposite of Phileas Fogg. Before he decides to serve Phileas Fogg, he lived an energetic life, he was an itinerant singer, a member of a circus, a gymnastic professor, and a sergeant fireman. He finally wants to settle down and quit his old life to live a tranquil life serving Phileas Fogg. Unfortunately for Passerpartout, in the same day that Jean Passerpartout was hired, Mr Fogg had impulsively decided to wager half of his wealth to prove that he can go around the world in eighty days, betraying his exactitude. After Passerpartout’s initial disappointment, it turns out that that an epic voyage around the globe in eighty days was just what he needed.

Leaving London in a first class carriage at 20 minutes before 9pm on Wednesday of October the 2nd, Phileas Fogg is due in London at the 21st of December, or else twenty thousand pounds of his fortunes will be lost in the wager. What follows of this daring voyage is a series of twists and turns, and unexpected series of events, full of interesting affairs wherever soil Phileas Fogg and Passerpartout set their feet on. From the lush Indian jungle, the greenery of Japanese rice fields, the vastness, coldness, and emptiness of American deserts, and the extensive and tempestuous Pacific and Atlantic ocean is beautifully and accurately told and described.

Here is the estimate made by The Daily Telegraph that showed the possibility of that incredible adventure.

  1. London to Suez (Egypt) via Mont Cenis and Brindisi (Italy), by rail and steam boats — 7 days

2. From Suez to Bombay, by steamer — 13 days

3. From Bombay to Calcutta (India), by rail — 3 days

4. From Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer — 13 days

5. From Hong Kong to Yokohama, by steamer — 6 days

6. From Yokohama to San Fransisco, by steamer — 22 days

7. From San Fransisco to New York, by rail — 7 days

8. From New York to London, by steamer and rail — 9 days

Total time spent = 80 days.

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As a curious person, I can’t help but follow their journey through google maps to get a feel of how this journey must have felt in person, and I can’t also help but notice how creative and ahead of its time Jules Verne’s writing is. This book is published in 1873, where telegraph and letter are used to communicate long distant, where a horse is a vital mode of transportation, where internal combustion engine is far from mainstream, but Jules Verne was able to write this outstanding book about a voyage around the globe, with many modes of transportation and accurate geographical description.

The Lessons

There are also many valuable lesson that I learned by reading this book, such as traveling is a great way to add knowledge. By traveling, we get to see a new part of the globe and experience new things. By traveling, we get to see the local geography, history, architecture, and scenery of new places that will add to our wisdom. As quoted in the book, “I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new”.

To stay optimistic and believing even when times are difficult. Whenever we feel that all hope is lost and everything is in vain, try to gain new perspective, new ideas, and new ways to rise above. Think outside the box, you could say. Sometimes, we need fail in order to learn something the hard way. As quoted in the book, “The chance which now seems lost may present itself at the very last moment”.

To always have principal and courage. It is crucial to have something to believe in, as an anchor of our life decisions, or a moral compass. As for courage, it is a trait that everyone needs to have. To be able to take to take a bold, decisive action when needed might save you from trouble, and keep you from danger later.

But the most important lesson is, try to keep calm whenever bad things happen. Things in life will go wrong, and whatever it is that we meticulously planned may deviate from our intended course of action. But as the saying goes “Everything happens for a reason”, there may be some meaning in everything that happens, so try to keep an open mind, do not panic, and try to stay calm.

I hope by reading my review, I will have evoked the curiosity in your conscience to read this all-time classic to extract the experiences, knowledge, and lessons that i have extracted earlier out of this book. Always remember to stay curious and keep an open mind

And lastly do not forget, “Fortune favors the brave”

Source: unsplash.com

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