I’m afraid I’ve been AWOL from this blog for some time. Between various family emergencies and sickness (for a number of weeks I had no energy for anything) I have been very preoccupied with life. I haven’t even done much reading I’m sorry to say. But, thankfully, I did finish my second book in the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. Being that it’s mid March already I need to get moving with the reading.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, fits in the category of An Adventure Classic. I have a very nice hard bound Reader’s Digest (unabridged, of course) edition that I found at a library sale for a dollar a number of years ago.
It is indeed an adventure tale although in some respects it’s almost a travelogue or a book of geography. As I read it I could easily imagine it as the read aloud “spine” for a study of world geography in school.
The book tells the story of Phileas Fogg, a very eccentric sort of fellow who probably had a very dysfunctional childhood. If he lived today he might be in therapy! He makes a £ 20,000 wager, (half his fortune, since he might need the other half to accomplish the feat) with a group of men at his club. He makes the announcement that he can traverse the globe in 80 days! It is a spur of the moment wager, rather daring, all in all. But Fogg is resourceful, full of confidence and absolutely convinced he can pull it off successfully.
He’s the sort of man who has everything worked out. He plans for delays, thereby ensuring he makes his connections and always (or almost always) stays ahead of the schedule. He is level headed, never seems to get rattled, takes everything in stride, and is calm, always very calm, and collected. There doesn’t seem to be an anxious bone in his body.
Philieas Fogg lives his life by a strict regimen.
“He breakfasted and dined at the club, at hours mathematically fixed, in the same room, at the same table, never taking his meals with other members, much less bringing a guest with him; and went home at exactly midnight, only to retire at once to bed.
“The mansion in Savile Row, thought not sumptuous, was exceedingly comfortable. The habits of its occupant were such as to demand but little from the sole domestic, but Phileas Fogg required him to be almost superhumanly prompt and regular … he had dismissed James Forster, because that luckless youth had brought shaving water at eight-four degrees Fahrenheit instead of eighty-six…”
Together with his newly hired French domestic, Passepartout, he embarks on the journey. I have no idea how to correctly pronounce Passepartout since I do not speak French, and so in my head he was simply “Passport” which I also thought appropriate for the story line.
They travel by steamer, elephant, train, sailboat, and any number of conveyances.
I loved how my book had little pictures of the mode of transportation used in that chapter along the top of the page across from the chapter number.
Coincidentally, a bank robbery occurs in England at nearly the same time as Phileas Fogg’s departure. The description of the robber resembles Fogg (could it be Fogg?) and it isn’t long before he is followed all the way around the world by a very determined and sly Detective Fix.
My favorite character is “Passport.” He is energetic, loyal, enthusiastic and even saves a damsel in distress who ends up accompanying them on their journey. He also unintentionally creates problems for his employer along the way, and is the perfect contrast to the very staid, very plain, often very boring Phileas Fogg. And when you add in Detective Fix always at their heels the book becomes a page turner.
I will add that the ending surprised me and was not what I expected; certainly the mark of a good book.
But, I’ll say no more so as not to spoil it for you!