We tend to imagine Phileas Fogg as a swashbuckling adventurer who inspired the likes of the real-life Richard Branson to explore the world and beyond. His name even inspired a brand of snacks that had different flavours ‘from around the world’.
From the first few pages of this 1873 vintage novel we discover that Phileas Fogg is the most boring man in London. With metronomic regularity he goes from his home in Savile Row, London, at precisely 11.30 am, to the Reform Club in Pall Mall. At the club he has his meals, reads the daily newspapers, and indulges in the odd game of whist. Then he returns home and goes to bed promptly at midnight.
The only significant change in his life is the appointment of a French valet, Jean Passepartout, who welcomes the opportunity to run the household like a well-oiled machine. Though even Passepartout is dazed by Fogg’s lifestyle which makes him comment, ‘I have known at Madame Tussaud’s folks with just as much life in them as my new master!’.
Just as things seem to be settled and calm, a game of whist changes everything, literally at the turn of a card. As his fellow players discuss the theft of £55,000 from the Bank of England, they get on to the subject of how the world is getting smaller, making it easier for a thief to escape abroad. This leads Phileas to impetuously accept a wager of £20,000 to prove you can travel around the world in eighty days.
With characteristic attention to detail and planning Fogg sets off on this adventure with Passepartout in tow. The story allows Verne to explore their different responses to the stress of navigating the world in such a short time when a few delays from the timetable will cost them dear.
In an afterword by John Grant, he notes that the story enables Verne to show off the the marvels of technology, which send Fogg around the globe and as a consequence ‘expand the frontiers of his own world view’. In so doing he also opens up the amazing wonders of the world to his readers.
A short review of the novel in the cinema, further reading and a short biography of Jules Verne is also included.
This is another splendid, finely produced, pocket-sized addition to Macmillan Collector’s Library, worthy of inclusion in the Reform Club’s library.
AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS / AUTHOR: JULES VERNE / PUBLISHER: MACMILLAN COLLECTOR’S LIBRARY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW