Classic of the Month: Around the World in 80 Days
As you probably recall, I started a new monthly series that will highlight a new "classic" every month. This month's classic is Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. Again I am very loosely basing my idea of classic's on this "A classic is a novel that represents a genre or a writing style, or it can be a novel that makes a contribution to literature. There are all kinds of classics, from horror classics to romance classics, from novels that sold millions of copies to a novel that changed how a genre was written." Due to the widely different views on what a classic is, these books may be considered classics by me but your opinion may be different.
What is Around the World in 80 Days?
Around the World in Eighty Days is an adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, first published in French in 1872. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a wager of GB£20,000 (equivalent to £1,803,710 in 2021) set by his friends at the Reform Club. It is one of Verne's most acclaimed works.
Plot Overview (Detailed)
The story starts in London on Wednesday, 2 October 1872. Phileas Fogg is a wealthy English gentleman living a solitary life. Despite his wealth, Fogg lives a modest life with habits carried out with mathematical precision. Very little can be said about his social life other than that he is a member of the Reform Club, where he spends the best part of his days. Having dismissed his former valet, James Forster, for bringing him shaving water two degrees too cold (at 29 °C (84 °F) instead of 30 °C (86 °F)), Fogg hires Frenchman Jean Passepartout as a replacement.
At the Reform Club, Fogg gets involved in an argument over an article in The Daily Telegraph stating that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for GB£20,000 (equivalent to £1,798,872 in 2019), half of his total fortune, from his fellow club members to complete such a journey within this time period. With Passepartout accompanying him, Fogg departs from London by train at 8:45 p.m. on 2 October; in order to win the wager, he must return to the club by this same time on 21 December 80 days later. They take the remaining £20,000 of Fogg's fortune with them to cover expenses during the journey.
Fogg and Passepartout reach Suez in time. While disembarking in Egypt, they are watched by a Scotland Yard policeman, Detective Fix, who has been dispatched from London in search of a bank robber. Since Fogg fits the vague description Scotland Yard was given of the robber, Detective Fix mistakes Fogg for the criminal. Since he cannot secure a warrant in time, Fix boards the steamer (the Mongolia) conveying the travellers to Bombay. Fix becomes acquainted with Passepartout without revealing his purpose. Fogg promises the steamer engineer a large reward if he gets them to Bombay early. They dock two days ahead of schedule.
After reaching India, they take a train from Bombay to Calcutta. Fogg learns that the Daily Telegraph article was wrong; a 80-kilometre (50-mile) stretch of track from Kholby to Allahabad has not yet been built. Fogg purchases an elephant, hires a guide, and starts toward Allahabad. They come across a procession in which a young Indian woman, Aouda, is to undergo sati. Since she is drugged with opium and hemp and is obviously not going voluntarily, the travellers decide to rescue her. They follow the procession to the site, where Passepartout takes the place of Aouda's deceased husband on the funeral pyre. During the ceremony he rises from the pyre, scaring off the priests, and carries Aouda away. The twelve hours gained earlier are lost, but Fogg shows no regret. The travellers hasten to catch the train at the next railway station, taking Aouda with them. At Calcutta, they board a steamer (the Rangoon) going to Hong Kong, with a day's stopover in Singapore. Fix has Fogg and Passepartout arrested. They jump bail and Fix follows them to Hong Kong. He shows himself to Passepartout, who is delighted to again meet his travelling companion from the earlier voyage.
In Hong Kong, it turns out that Aouda's distant relative, in whose care they had been planning to leave her, has moved to Holland, so they decide to take her with them to Europe. Still without a warrant, Fix sees Hong Kong as his last chance to arrest Fogg on British soil. Passepartout becomes convinced that Fix is a spy from the Reform Club. Fix confides in Passepartout, who does not believe a word and remains convinced that his master is not a bank robber. To prevent Passepartout from informing his master about the premature departure of their next vessel, the Carnatic, Fix gets Passepartout drunk and drugs him in an opium den. Passepartout still manages to catch the steamer to Yokohama, but is not able to inform Fogg that the steamer is leaving the evening before its scheduled departure date.
Fogg discovers that he missed his connection. He searches for a vessel that will take him to Yokohama, finding a pilot boat, the Tankadere, that takes him and Aouda to Shanghai, where they catch a steamer to Yokohama. In Yokohama, they search for Passepartout, believing that he arrived there on the Carnatic as originally planned. They find him in a circus, trying to earn the fare for his homeward journey. Reunited, the four board a paddle-steamer, the General Grant, taking them across the Pacific to San Francisco. Fix promises Passepartout that now, having left British soil, he will no longer try to delay Fogg's journey, but instead support him in getting back to Britain so he can arrest Fogg in Britain itself.
In San Francisco, they board a transcontinental train to New York, encountering a number of obstacles along the way: a massive herd of bison crossing the tracks, a failing suspension bridge, and a band of Sioux warriors ambushing the train. After uncoupling the locomotive from the carriages, Passepartout is kidnapped by the Indians, but Fogg rescues him after American soldiers volunteer to help. They continue by a wind-powered sledge to Omaha, where they get a train to New York. In New York, having missed the ship China, Fogg looks for alternative transport. He finds a steamboat, the Henrietta, destined for Bordeaux, France. The captain of the boat refuses to take the company to Liverpool, whereupon Fogg consents to be taken to Bordeaux for $2,000 (approximately $42,683 in 2019) per passenger. He then bribes the crew to mutiny and make course for Liverpool. Against hurricane winds and going on full steam, the boat runs out of fuel after a few days. Fogg buys the boat from the captain and has the crew burn all the wooden parts to keep up the steam.
The companions arrive at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, take the train to Dublin and then a ferry to Liverpool, still in time to reach London before the deadline. Once on English soil, Fix produces a warrant and arrests Fogg. A short time later, the misunderstanding is cleared up – the actual robber, an individual named James Strand, had been caught three days earlier in Edinburgh. However, Fogg has missed the train and arrives in London five minutes late, certain he has lost the wager. The following day Fogg apologises to Aouda for bringing her with him, since he now has to live in poverty and cannot support her. Aouda confesses that she loves him and asks him to marry her. As Passepartout notifies a minister, he learns that he is mistaken in the date – it is not 22 December, but instead 21 December. Because the party had travelled eastward, their days were shortened by four minutes for each of the 360 degrees of longitude they crossed; thus, although they had experienced the same amount of time abroad as people had experienced in London, they had seen 80 sunrises and sunsets while London had seen only 79. Passepartout informs Fogg of his mistake, and Fogg hurries to the Reform Club just in time to meet his deadline and win the wager. Having spent almost £19,000 of his travel money during the journey, he divides the remainder between Passepartout and Fix and marries Aouda.
What genre is this book?
Around the World in 80 Days is considered to be Adventure fiction.
Was this book ever banned?
The book itself has not been banned from what I can find but there have been parties at Universities/Colleges that have been cancelled or banned because of the insensitivities towards other cultures.
Why is it a Classic?
This novel is considered a classic simply because of its lasting success. It has inspired many around the world trips some more successful than others.
The book has been adapted or reimagined many times in different forms.
The novel Around the world in 100 days by Gary Blackwood (2010) serves as a sequel to the events in 80 days. The book follows Phileas's son as he tries to travel around the world by car instead of train, hence the longer time limit.
Sir Michael Palin partially attempted to recreate the journey for a documentary series: Around the World in 80 Days with Michael Palin.
A musical version, 80 Days, with songs by Ray Davies of The Kinks and a book by playwright Snoo Wilson, directed by Des McAnuff, ran at the Mandell Weiss Theatre in San Diego from 23 August to 9 October 1988, receiving mixed responses from the critics. Davies's multi-faceted music, McAnuff's directing, and the acting were well received, with the show winning the "Best Musical" award from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle.
Mark Brown adapted the book for a five-actor stage production in 2001. It has been performed in New York, Canada, England, South Africa, and Bangladesh.
Toby Hulse created an adaptation for three actors, which was first produced at the Egg at The Theatre Royal, Bath in 2010. It was revived at the Arcola Theatre in London in 2013 and The Theatre Chipping Norton in 2014.
Jules Verne – Around the World in Eighty Days, a 4-part drama adaptation by Terry James and directed by Janet Whittaker for BBC Radio 7 (now BBC Radio 4 Extra), starred Leslie Phillips as Phileas Fogg, Yves Aubert as Passepartout and Jim Broadbent as Sergeant Fix.
An Indian Fantasy Story, an unfinished French/English co-production from 1938, featuring the wager at the Reform Club and the rescue of the Indian Princess. It was never completed.
In 1956, Michael Anderson directed a film adaptation starring David Niven and Cantinflas. The film won five Oscars, including one for best colour cinematography for Lionel Lindon.
In 2004, the film was remade starring TV's Alan Partridge actor Steve Coogan and martial arts star Jackie Chan in the roles of Fogg and Passepartout respectively. The film won a Razzie award for worst supporting actor in Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The 2005 PC video game 80 Days is based on the novel.
Flightfox created a trip, "Around the World in 80 Hours", to see if flight experts could find flights following the same path as described in the book (for cheap). The online travel company then wrote a fictional eBook based on the results of the contest.
Worlds of Fun, an amusement park in Kansas City, Missouri, was conceived using the novel as its theme.