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Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne,  Brian W. Aldiss, Michael Glencross More like five days for me really, though even that is too long for a 250 pages book. Well, it’s an audiobook and I only listened to it while commuting to work.

Yes, that is a silly intro but what I meant is that while listening to the book I often felt transported along with Phileas Fogg and crew. This is my first Jules Verne book, normally I prefer to read books in the original language they are written in because with translated books there is always an added layer between the translator and the original text. Still, if I avoid reading translated novels altogether I would have missed out on some great literature. This edition from Librivox* was translated by George Makepeace Towle, obviously I don’t know how accurate the translation is but the prose is very readable and the narrative entertaining.

I was immediately taken by the chummy tone of the narrative. Even though noting much happen in the first chapter I enjoyed Verne’s description of Phileas Fogg, a rather eccentric and enigmatic English gentleman; “exactitude personified” as Verne (or Towle?) puts it. The amusingly unflappable Fogg has a great foil in Passepartout (sounds like “passport two” in the audio). Passepartout is Fogg’s butler and sidekick, not so much Robin (as in Batman), or Jeeves, as Sancho Panza from [b: Don Quixote|3836|Don Quixote|Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364958765s/3836.jpg|121842], he is bumbling, loyal and extremely likable; his IQ seems to go up and down as the plot dictates though.

The basic plot of Around the World in Eighty Days is very simple, the novel tells the story of Phileas Fogg’s attempt to travel the world in no more than 80 days for a bet. He is accompanied by Passepartout, along the way they pick up a couple of characters to form an entourage and they go through several hair-raising adventures. The book is pretty much a romp from beginning to end, necessarily moving at breakneck speed as time is obviously limited and the page count is quite modest.

One thing that surprises me is that Verne, a French author chooses an Englishman for his hero and Passepartout, a Frenchman, as his bumbling sidekick. Was Jules Verne an Anglophile? Let me know in the comments please. Of the other main characters, the Indian girl Aouda, who Fogg and Passepartout rescue from some zealot villains, seems to have very little in the way of agency. Then we have a Scotland Yard detective named Fix who is incredibly single-minded in his pursuit of Phileas Fogg (I keep imagining a musical adaptation of this book where he sings “I will try to Fix you”), I like him. Coming back to Fogg himself, he starts off being interestingly enigmatic and unflappable but by the end of the book seems like a one note character.

“As for Phileas Fogg, it seemed just as if the typhoon were a part of his programme”

That quote sums him up nicely. So Passepartout remains the novel’s best character for me.

Not much left for me to say really Around the World in Eighty Days is a hoot and I recommend it. I will certainly read [b: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea|7085072|Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas|Jules Verne|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1345387258s/7085072.jpg|41366562], [b: Journey to the Center of the Earth|32829|Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages, #3)|Jules Verne|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389754903s/32829.jpg|1924715] and beyond. [a: Jules Verne|696805|Jules Verne|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1322911579p2/696805.jpg] is my kind of guy!

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* Audiobook from Librivox, entertainingly read by Ralph Snelson, thank you!

My thanks to Lyn, an excellent GR friend and reviewer, whose review prompted me to read this book.