Jules Verne's classic novel 'Around the World in 80 Days', or 'Le Tour du Monde en 80 Jours' as originally titled was written in 1873 and was translated into English in the same year by George Makepeace Towle. The original translated manuscript contained 57 illustrations by Alphonse-Marie de Neuville and Léon Benett, also drawn in 1873.

The Story
In 1872, an arrogant young Englishman named Phileas Fogg reads a report in a newspaper that it is possible to travel around the world in eighty days. None of his friends believe that this is so, and Fogg risks his entire fortune by placing a bet of 20,000 pounds that he can complete a journey around the globe in 80 days or less; quite a task when taking into consideration there were no real means of worldwide transportation, and especially no high speed passenger aircraft to achieve such a journey. In the story Fogg is a resourceful man, and incorporates every mode of transportation that was available to him - train, boat, elephant, camel, raft and hot air balloon!

The journey commences from London, England, and introduces us to Fogg's temper and perfectionism when he fires his servant for bringing him shaving water that was four degrees below the temperature Fogg requested! Passpartout, Fogg's newly hired servant for the journey is a curious, versatile, capable, and brave man. Throughout the story, whenever there is a call for resourcefulness and true courage, it is Passpartout - not Fogg - that steps forward and offers his services. In acts of heroism and chivalry, Passpartout rescues a princess from a funeral pyre in India, and whilst in America, during an attack by the Sioux, it is Passpartout who manages to pull himself along under a moving train and uncouple the engine, saving all of the passengers.

In the novel, Fogg is 'a caricature of the typical Englishman, taken to extremes'. He is ridiculously rational, silent and unflappable. Nothing really seems to bother him, owing in part to the fact that he is oblivious to just about everything. But underneath the icy exterior there are hints of true humanity and generosity, starting with his giving an exorbitant sum that he won through playing whist to a beggar girl at the London train station where the journey commences. This kind of humanity and generosity gradually becomes a more important part of his character through the course of the narrative. Fogg un-admittedly learns a great deal form Passpartout, and somehow becomes more 'French' in his characteristics and mannerisms.

"....(The original book) dates from 1873, just three years after the disastrous defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War. The national ego was probably at an all-time low. This is a tale of two countries, a contrast of two life styles/world views; with an indication that underneath the exterior there is a common humanity -- ground for future understanding." www.samizdat.com

Another main character in the novel is Detective Fix, a bumbling Scotland Yard Inspector who mistakes Fogg for an infamous bank robber, and causes the group lots of trouble and delays throughout their journey. Fix finally arrests Fogg on the last day of the journey, only to be proven that his efforts and schemes are to go un-rewarded, and he has followed the wrong man around the world! Fogg's journey is fraught with danger, and many obstacles threaten to hamper the success of the expedition. Storms at sea and unfinished railroad tracks are but a few of the mishaps that await Fogg's party and preserve the reader's interest whilst they are 'living' the story.

Although perhaps not in the fashion that today's society would acknowledge, Fogg's journeys do indeed take him around the world, and the dates and locations within the book are as follows:

London, England - Oct 2nd 1872
Suez, Egypt - Oct 9th 1872
Bombay, India - Oct 20th 1872
Calcutta, India - Oct 25th 1872
Singapore - Oct 31st 1872
Hong Kong - Nov 6th 1872
Shanghai, China - Nov 11th 1872
Yokohama, Japan - Nov 14th 1872
San Francisco, California - Dec 3rd 1872
New York - Dec 11th 1872
Dublin, Ireland - Dec 20th 1872

The plot of the story turns on the International Date Line, and the effects of the rotation of the Earth on time and travel, i.e.:

"Both dawn and sunset move across the earth as it rotates on its axis. In order to compensate for the earth's rotation and to avoid requiring half the world to go to work in the dark, the earth is divided into 24 time zones. These zones approximate the march of dawn and dusk across the globe. Since the earth rotates from West to East, if one is travelling in the same direction and is viewed from the standpoint of the sun, he is going faster than the earth rotates on its axis, slightly faster than dawn and dusk. When he travels during the day he is catching up to sunset and leaving dawn behind. At night, a traveller from West to East is catching up to sunrise and leaving sunset behind. In order to compensate for this effect, the traveller will have to set his clock ahead one hour as he enters each new time zone. For example, a person travelling from Los Angeles to New York will pass through three time zones. Thus, 9:00 a.m. on the West coast is 12:00 noon on the East Coast.

Phileas Fogg travelled around the world beginning in England, going to Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia, across the Pacific to America and then back to England by crossing the Atlantic. In other words, he travelled from West to East. Fogg was travelling around the Earth's axis a little faster than the Earth itself, a little faster than dawn and sunset.

Travelling from West to East, Fogg had to set his clock ahead one hour on each occasion that he entered a more easterly time zone. But while the clock advanced one hour when he entered a new time zone, the actual amount of time that Fogg had spent on his journey did not increase. Since Fogg, on his journey around the world, went through each of the 24 time zones, his clock advanced 24 times showing 24 hours of artificial time." www.teachwithmovies.org

When Fogg was counting his 80 days, he forgot this effect. Since he had travelled from West to East, he was artificially gaining an hour of time with each time zone, and when he actually crossed the International Date Line, he should have put his calendar back one day, giving him an additional day to complete his wager.

Ultiamtely, throughout the journey, Fogg comes to realize that 'people are all linked. That which distinguishes us is our souls, our spirits and our compassion, and that within each of us is the possibility for a fantastic voyage.'

Around the World in 80 Days has also been immortalised on the big screen, and the original film of 1955 starred David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner among many others, and was directed by Michael Anderson. Classed as a 'comedy drama based on the original works of Jules Verne', the production received many Awards, including numerous Academy Awards and Golden Globes.


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