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on 11 September 2014
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Around the World in 80 Days isn’t actually science fiction: the whole point was that it was a journey that was at least theoretically possible at the time. If anything, it is a study of the British Empire at the time, with memorable comments on all the colonies and areas they pass through as well as on British attitudes about each. My favourite, I think, occurs when they are about to be attacked by bandits while on the train across America, where the comment is made that ‘it may be taken for granted that, rash as the Americans usually are, when they are prudent there is a good reason for it.’

Science fiction is often portrayed as boys’ novels, targeted to those who don’t read real fiction. This, I think, is unfair. Science fiction often neglects the sort of character development found in Dickens, true. But in return it allows for a clear focus on a single aspect of society, distilled by its removal from impurities and complicating elements that pervade our own societies. As a result, it often has profound things to say about the world we live in, as well as the worlds we might aspire to see happen, whether that’s about the future of robotics and by extension lesser beings in Asimov, or the nature of globalization in Verne. They can also inspire, as 80 Days does, by evoking a passion for adventure and a desire to see new things.

The classic picture of Phineas Fogg in a balloon is, unfortunately, false: they don’t use a balloon at all in the story. Often ignored is also the fact that he finds love on the adventure: rather than being a celebration of the modern world and consumption, in the end, Fogg is left with the classic reward of all such tales: true love, and happiness ever after.

PS – Interesting fact for West Wing (and Nellie Bly) fans: Nellie Bly did the trip herself as a homage for her newspaper, meeting up with Verne in Amiens after 72 days. Michael Palin of Monty Python fame refused to use aircraft, and managed it in 79 days and 7 hours, slightly longer than Fogg.
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on 7 September 2012
Usborne Young Reading is an outstanding series of condensed versions of classic works of children's and adult literature, along with a few non-fiction titles. We have about a dozen of these now as my daughter is getting through about one a week. They are intended for children who are beginning to read alone but they are equally suited to an earlier stage with a child reading aloud to an adult. As well as being exciting stories with lovely illustrations, there is a high level of consistency in reading standard within each of the three levels - not just text size and word count but most importantly difficulty of individual words (which is where most "reading books" fall down). There are also speech bubbles in some of the illustrations, often amusing ones, which go down very well. Different titles also introduce a good variety of non-English names, acronyms, abbreviations, dates etc. I cannot recommend this series highly enough.
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on 15 January 2011
I am currently in the process of reading the second story in the book, 'Five Weeks in a Balloon' - which is apparently Verne's first novel - after reading 'Around the World in Eighty Days', and so far have been blown away by how easy a novel from the 19th century has been to read, and particularly how enthralling. The character of Phileas Fogg never ceases to amaze with his calm etiquette and unshakeable nerve, whilst his manservant Passepartout adds a brilliant aspect of comedy to the race against time. Verne's description of the various locations around the world are also incredibly detailed, making me wonder whether he has actually been there himself or not. If not, then the man had a very accurate imagination as to what these places would look like!

So far 'Five Weeks in a Balloon' has proven to be very good, with the typical Vernian adventurer of Dr. Samuel Fergusson, his Scottish friend Dick Kennedy and servant Joe going on a journey across Africa to discover the sources of the Nile in a magnificent balloon. Be warned however, that Verne's novels do contain a lot of scientific description in the earlier stages of the books particularly, something that means practically nothing to a non-scientific person like me, but is easy enough to just read through if you also don't understand. Other than that, I would say that 'Around the World in Eighty Days' is more colourful than 'Five Weeks in a Balloon', with more interesting characters, but overall they are both brilliant novels that I would highly recommend to someone who wants to start reading classic literature.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 September 2002
I decided to read "Around the World in Eighty Days" after encountering an essay about Jules Verne's deep interest and belief in science as an almost God-like vehicle to carry mankind into a brave new world. I then decided to see how this work fit into this theme of Verne's world view. I found a story which, to the reader of Verne's day, may have seemed as inspiring as the tales of astronauts to contemporary readers.
Without giving too much away, "Around the World" is an improbable tale of Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman who carries his regularity to the extreme of eccentricity. After engaging a new servant, the Frenchman, Passepartout, Fogg engages his fellows at the Reform Club in a discussion over the possibility of the completion of an around the world journey. Immediately, Fogg engages in a bet that he can circumnavigate the globe in an eighty day period. Collecting Passepartout, they set off that very night on a journey which will take them, truly, around the world.
Verne's writing was driven, in large degree, by a desire to promote the public acceptance and advancement of science among the French people. In his journey of 1874, Fogg employs many types of conveyance, from the most primitive to the most technologically advanced of the day. Verne uses this novel to contrast the industrial might of the United States with the traditional cultural mores of India.
We can only try to imagine how this novel would have affected the reader of 1874. To a modern reader, the book is a light, fast moving novel with a stimulating thread of suspense and just a touch of romance. What little character development takes place is dwarfed by the demonstration of technological wonder which is depicted throughout the journey. We do, however, come to know a little about the main characters. We see Fogg as an eccentric, phlegmatic Englishman, seemingly single-mindedly devoted to achieving his goal of circumnavigation of the globe within the prescribed period. When Fogg does abandon his single-minded drive it is sidetracked and overwhelmed by his innate senses of honor and duty, almost leading to grave consequences. Passepartout comes across as a fairly simple-minded servant whose sole purpose in life is the faithful service of his master. Add in a beautiful damsel and a determined but feckless detective and we have the makings of a most entertaining read with a most unpredictable hero.
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on 3 June 2012
I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while and at last got around to it. all i can say is my god what a story! from the very start of the novel the authors wonderful writing style has you immediately intrigued by the story and the curious Mr Phileas Fogg who is introduced as the most laconic and orderly man imaginable. his routine is meticulous with a strict timetable for each day which he keeps to on the dot, he never leaves London and lives the most quite and uneventful life imaginable spending each day at the Reform club where he reads the daily paper or plays a game of cards. Passepartout, his new servant, is looking for just such a calm life but he is to be disappointed for on the day he is employed he Master returns from the club telling him to pack at once for a trip around the world.

at the club that day Fogg had bet half his fortune that he could travel around the world in an easterly direction in 80 days. in a race to save face and fortune what follows next is an amazing adventure that will have you gripped all the way through. a classic that should be read by all ages, by the end of it all that may be said is 'those Frenches sure know how to tell a story!'
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on 19 October 2014
Like so many people I've read the Michael Palin travelogue of the same name, was aware of the original but somehow
never read it. My Mistake!
This is far more than a travelogue.
It's an evocative empire period piece, a rollicking adventure story with a bit of romance, plenty of humour & a decided victory for good over evil. All served up in an easy gentle style. Read it or miss out.
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on 25 October 2013
Another good read from the pen/quill/whatever or Jules Verne. However, why do all the Phileas Fogg references in modern society include a balloon? For I do not believe he actually uses a balloon for any significant part of his journey. I mean, there's boats and trains and even an elephant...but a balloon? Hmmm....
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on 22 November 2011
Great short book of a fab story. Will definitely be buying a longer version, my 6 year old enjoyed the story very much and was excited that he could try and read it too.
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on 12 August 2011
Around the World in Eighty Days is a fascinating book set in the time of 1872. It is about a very wealthy, yet modest, man called Phileas Fogg. He lives at no. 7, Saville Row in London. Phileas Fogg is a man who never likes to attract attention, but is extremely clever and takes great interest in science and maths. With such a great mind, you would think that he is a member of a group, maybe a university; but he isn't. The only thing he is a member of is the Reform Club. Phileas is a man who is very precise and in-fact has not one but two clocks by his bedside and both tick at exactly the same second.
Being as rich as he is, Phileas Fogg, at the start of the book, searches for a servant. He is recommended one called Jean Passpartout. Phileas likes Passpartout and employs him on Wednesday 2nd October. Passpartout is a man about forty years of age. He is a tall Frenchman with fair hair.
When Phileas and Passpartout make a visit to the Reform Club, Phileas makes a bet of twenty thousand pounds to the rest of the club that he could travel around the World in eighty days using steamers and rails.
The first places that Mr Fogg and Passpartout go to are Dover and Calais, both in France. On the way there, they meet a detective called Fix. Fix has been sent out to look for suspicious passengers at the train station. This because of a Bank of England robbery that took place; fifty-five thousand pounds was stolen. He thinks that the robbers were Phileas and Passpartout as they are carrying a large amount of money. Mr Fogg agrees to let Detective Fix follow him throughout his journey, just to prove that they aren't guilty.
Next, Phileas Fogg and Passpartout go to Bombay. In Bombay, they meet (or rescue) a widow called Aouda. Aouda travels with them for the rest of the journey and she comes as a great help to them. Phileas, Passpartout and Aouda also buy an elephant in Bombay and travel around the different Indian rainforests. They enjoy themselves a lot!
Phileas Fogg, Passpartout and Aouda enjoy the rest of their journey around the world. But do they make it back in time? A heart-warming classic that you want to read over and over!
RATING: 10/10
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on 19 November 2014
Really enjoyed the book. Read it as a child but appreciated it a lot more this time. Beautiful descriptions of places as the travel across the globe is ploted. Some readers may find it dated but for a book written 140 years ago it stands the test of time and hope my grandson when he is a little older will read it and enjoy it as much as I have.
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