When you think of science fiction writers, what comes to mind? If you said super nerds with epic space dreams, you're not totally wrong. But that's not the whole picture, either. To prove our point, without further ado, we'd like to introduce you to Jules Verne, author of Around the World in Eighty Days and the granddaddy of science fiction.
Here's where things get interesting: Around the World in Eighty Days, arguably Verne's most famous novel, isn't sci-fi. There's no space, no aliens, nothing futuristic to be found. Instead, when Verne published the book in 1873, he let loose one of the most famous literary explorers of all time—Phileas Fogg. Good looking, rich, ridiculously punctual, and unfalteringly well-mannered, Fogg accepts a bet from his rich bros at the club, who say there's no way he can travel around the world in eighty days. And with that, Fogg's off to prove them wrong.
Don't worry; Verne wrote plenty of sci-fi (so he isn't the Big Poppa of the genre for nothing). In Around the World, though, what we see instead of the future is an impressive array of technology. As Fogg travels, he makes use of all kinds of newfangled tech, stopping just short of using eighty different modes of transportation to complete his trip. No one can kick the globe's butt and take names in eighty days like Phileas Fogg.
Verne's books have been translated into seventy languages, and he is the second most translated author of all time (behind Agatha Christie—darn you mystery novels). So even if traveling the world isn't your thing, you should probably crack open your copy of this book. Unless, like Fogg, you have a servant who can do this dirty work for you.
Brace yourselves, Shmoopers, because we're about to drop an epic question in your lap: What is the purpose of life?
Yeah, we know—philosophers have mulled this one over for centuries. But still, it's a question we come back to time and again as human beings. And Jules Verne is no exception. At the heart of Around the World in Eighty Days is concern for what truly matters in life.
Phileas Fogg has all he needs to get by. And yes, we're talking about money. Dude has more than enough. So much, in fact, that he can travel the entire world on a whim—no major planning or fundraising needed. Seems pretty sweet, right? And it definitely is in way; Phileas enjoys a whole lot of freedom to lead his life the way he wants to.
And yet, despite preferring not to take in many of the sights as he travels, and despite thinking he's lost the bet, thanks to the lovely Aouda, it seems Phileas emerges richer than ever. Is there something problematic about this? You bet—we talk about it in the "Symbols" section, so definitely don't skip Aouda's page over there—but there's also an argument being made about what matters in life. And guess what? It isn't money or adventure or faithful servants or breakfast at the club with bros. It's love. And that makes this book a book for the ages.
Eighty Days in Encyclopedia Britannica
Yup, this novel's so famous it gets a page in the freaking encyclopedia. Don't worry, though—it won't take you eighty days to read through.
La Maison de Jules Verne
Visit the house of Verne and tour where Jules made the magic happen. The next time you're in Nantes, France, the info will come in handy.
The Jules Verne Bio
Can't get enough of J.V.? Join the varsity squad at Biography.com and you'll have all the deets to be a Vernian at the top level.
Michael Palin's Travels
It's a real-life trip around the world in eighty days, inspired by Verne's story. Michael Palin accepted a hefty reward from the BBC to make a television series about going around the world. He also wrote a book about it. Disclaimer: No Sarah Palin involved.
Think you know everything about Around the World in Eighty Days? Test your adventure mettle with this quiz.
Around the World in Eighty Days
Want to see Jules Verne, fifties-style? Pop in this gem and get totally groovy (and totally non PC).
Around the World in 80 Days—the TV Mini-series
Pierce Brosnan as Phileas Fogg? Be still our hearts. Probably the best of the best, this made-for-TV miniseries has an all-star cast and follows the book better than anything else out there. Ready for Jules Verne made in the '80s? Um, yes please.
Around the World in Eighty Kung Fu Moves
Jackie Chan as Passepartout? This take on Jules Verne's most famous adventure piece is sure to break a few boards (as well as a few rules of comedy). Hi-yah.
Ellen MacArthur Sails Around the World
There's a Jules Verne trophy. Want to win it? Sure you do. Sail around the world heading east, and it's sure to be the next entry into your trophy case collection.
Jules Verne in Spiz-ace
An ATV was designed to go rollin' and patrollin' on the moon and other planets, and it's affectionately named the Jules Verne. Aw…
Jules Verne, Appearing in a Summer Blockbuster Near You
Well, maybe just his name. But if Walt Disney's Tomorrowland is name-dropping our author, we kind of want to see what happens our old pal Verne's namesake.
Around the World in Five Minutes
We hate to cut Jules Verne short, but this short animated film is too cute for words. Check out this really creative cartoon adaptation about Jules Verne, Jr. and his trip around the world.
Around the World Jackie Chan Movie Trailer
We love us some corn—popped or otherwise—and Jackie Chan delivers the sillies as well as a course in Kung-fu 101.
A Tasty Nugget for Passepartout
From the 1956 version of Around the World in 80 Days, we get a sense of Passepartout's comedic development (and also a strange reference to him as a "brown fellow").
Listen up, World
It's a reading of Around the World in Eighty Days with all the vocabulary words pronounced correctly. Have a listen and travel the world without ever leaving your couch.
When the King of Science Fiction Speaks . . .
We totally listen. Orson Welles did a radio broadcast of Around the World in Eighty Days. How cool is that?
Learn Real English from Phileas Fogg
A pretty interesting take on the novel. This version is cut down to teach people to read English with some illustrations, music, and read-along sentences.
The 1956 Movie Poster
This one poster manages to cram in a hot air balloon, elephant, multiple ships, a train and more.
Someone Rescue Me
Check out this fancy picture of Aouda's rescue from an illustrated copy of an 1872 version of the novel. Help a girl out, would you?
D'abord il était Français
Phileas Fogg may be English, but Verne published this novel first in French, because, you know, he was French.
Poster Boy For Passepartout
Jackie Chan's debut as the karate kickin' servant.