Around the World in Eighty Days
Translated by G.M. Towle and N. Danvers
Folio Society (London), 1982 (first pub. 1872, current text from 1899 ed.), 223 PP
Today when astronauts circle the world every few hours and an ordinary tourist, if they so desire, can fly around the world in a few days with relative ease and little expense, it is difficult to imagine that making the journey in eighty days was still a fantasy when Jules Verne first wrote this book. Yet, in this book Verne's protagonist, Phileas Fogg, makes headlines when makes a bet with fellow members of the Reform Club in London that he can make the trip in eighty days. Fogg bets half of his fortune, £20,000, and figures he will need the rest for his expenses. If he wins he breaks even, if he loses he loses everything.
The Suez Canal and the last section of the railroad across the Indian peninsula have both just opened and the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper prints a story showing that, if one makes all connections on time and there are no delays, the minimum time to complete a trip around the world would now be eighty days. Fogg is willing to gamble that he can complete the trip using "Telegraph's" minimum time estimate.
Fogg and his valet, Jean Passepartout, start the journey and run into obstacles almost immediately. Improvising to make up for delays that cause them to miss connections, discovering enroute that the information about available transportation that appeared in the "Daily Telegraph" was not totally accurate and other, unanticipated side adventures turn Fogg's carefully laid out itinerary into a rousing adventure.
Within a few years of its publication this book ceased to be a futuristic fantasy as travel became faster, easier and commonplace for the average person.
This report prepared by Chuck Nugent