Round the World in 80 Days, #11 of Jules Verne’s Extraordinary Journeys

Posted on February 9th, 2014

#6 of 54 in the Jules Verne Reading Challenge

Round the World in 80 Days, #11 of Jules Verne’s Extraordinary JourneysAround the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Series: The Extraordinary Journeys #11
Published by Hetzel in 1873
Pages: 240
Location: International
Mode of travel: Elephant, Ship, Sledge, Train
Read it on Gutenberg
Read it on Wikisource
One ill-fated evening at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days - and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-establised routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant Passepartout. Travelling by train, steamship, sailing boat, sledge and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard - who believes that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England - to win the extraordinary wager.

Verdict: more twists and turns in the plot than expected.

Around the World in 80 Days must be one of Verne’s most famous stories but since I never read it before, it actually managed to surprise me. That was quite exciting. Unlike several of the other Verne books I’ve read so far, this one has character arcs. Although Verne relies on stereotypes as usual, both Passepartout and Fogg evolve a lot during the book, especially Passepartout. He didn’t start off a very keen traveler but by the time he got back, it was possible to wonder if he’d really settle back into his old peaceful habits again.

Verne provides a lot of information about the possibilities for international travel in the 1870s. As the chronology just below shows, it was the development of trans-continental railways (and the Suez Canal) which made Fogg’s journey possible. It was dependent of four very recently opened routes. Nevertheless, it was the steamship which seemed most likely to prove the weak link, even though it had been around for some time. This was still the era of steam-sail hybrid shipping in which crossings were a lot faster with a favorable wind, and slower in rough seas.

1825 – First public transport railway opened in Britain
1838 – Regular Transatlantic crossings by steamship begin (previously passengers crossed the Atlantic in sailships).
1869 – The American Transcontinental Railroad connecting San Francisco with the eastern networks was completed
1869 – Opening of the Suez Canal
1870 – The Indian Peninsular Railway connecting Mumbai to Calcutta was inaugurated (earlier than announced in the story)
c.1870 – a Transalpine rail connection had been opened within the last couple of years.
1872 – Fogg’s journey

One of the things which fascinated me most about Around the World in 80 Days is the globalization Verne refers to already at this stage. His protagonist, Passepartout frequently notes the buildings and streets in Asia might easily be in Europe and that the populations in each of the cities he visits is strikingly multiracial and multicultural. The reason is that a large part of the tour travels through the outposts of the British Empire, or its cultural descendant, the United States. Only in Yokohama or, arguably, in the depths of the Indian and American continents, does Fogg stray off this westernised territory. I remember from my history studies that there was a lot about this situation which wasn’t ideal and if it could fairly be said that 19th century Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.. resembled Victorian London in terms of living conditions, it wouldn’t be a compliment.

Fogg himself wants nothing to do with sight-seeing anyway,and only participates in the adventures the author arranges for him out of sense of duty. Although the author makes fun of him for it, the main point of the book is to explore the possibilities of the new means of transport themselves.

I put together an itinerary of Fogg’s tour round the world below in several sections. It contains dates, times, mode of transport, starting point and end point, but if you feel some of it may constitute minor spoilers, don’t click on the arrows!

London to Bombay (Mumbai) in India – days 1-18, Ch3-Ch9

RTW-Steamer point

Verne doesn’t dwell on the crossing of the European and Mediterranean, possibly considering it too well-known to his readers.
Wednesday 2nd October 1872
20:45 – Departure of train from London to Paris
Thursday 3rd October 1872
07:20 – Arrival in Paris by train. Fogg certainly took the London-Dover train and boarded a cross-channel steamer around 23:00. He would then have taken a train Paris by around 05:00, probably from Calais.
8:40 – Departure from Paris on train bound for Turin.
Friday 4th October 1872
06:35 – Arrival in Turin
07:20 – Departure from Turin on train bound for Brindisi
Saturday 6th October 1872
16:00 – Arrival by train in Brindisi
17:00 – Departure of the Mongolia steamship bound for Bombay via the Suez Canal. Fogg and Passepartout spent a total of 14 days on the Mongolia.
Wednesday 9th October 1872
10:30 – The steamship Mongolia arrives in Suez.
Sunday 13th October 1872
The passengers can see Mecca from the ship.
Monday 14th October 1872
14:00 – The Mongolia stops at Aden to take on fuel
18:00 – The Mongolia leaves Aden
Sunday 20th October 1872
16:30 – arrival of the Mongolia in Bombay (Mumbai)

Crossing of India by the Great Indian Peninsular Railway – days 18-23, Ch9-Ch15


Sunday 20th October 1872
16:30 – arrival of the Mongolia in Bombay (Mumbai)
20:00 – departure of the train from Bombay to Calcutta
Monday 21st October 1872
12:30 – brief stop at Burhampour for lunch
Tuesday 22nd October 1872
8:00 – the line is unfinished, 15 miles before Rothal. Despite the announcement of the line’s completion in the newspapers, passengers are obliged to make their own way over the 50 miles between Kholby and Allahabad.
c.9:30 – departure towards Allahabad by elephant.
Wednesday 24th October 1872
10:00 – arrival at Allahabad after numerous adventures
10:30 – departure of train from Allahabad to Calcutta
12:30 – brief stop at Benares (Varanasi)
Thursday 25th October 1872
5:00 – arrival of the train in Calcutta
12:00 – departure of the ship Rangoon from Calcutta to Hong Kong

Crossing  of the Bay of Bengal and South China Sea – days 23-35, Ch15-Ch20


Thursday 25th October 1872
12:00 – departure of the ship Rangoon from Calcutta to Hong Kong
The Rangoon passes within sight of Great Andaman
Wednesday 30th October 1872
The Rangoon enters the straits between Malacca and Sumatra
Thursday 31st October 1872
04:00 The Rangoon arrives in Singapore
11:00 The Rangoon leaves Singapore, having loaded fuel
Sun 3-Mon 4 November 1872
Storm at sea, making the Rangoon late.
Wednesday 6 November 1872
c.6:30 – Arrival of the Rangoon in Hong Kong, having missed the expected connection to Yokohama
20:00 – Departure of the Carnatic for Yokohama, ten hours early, inadvertently carrying Passepartout.
Thursday 7 November 1872
15:00 – Fogg and the rest of his party embark on the small schooner Tankadere, bound for Nagasaki.

From Hong Kong to San Francisco – days 35-62, Ch20-Ch25


Wednesday 6 November 1872
20:00 – Departure of the Carnatic for Yokohama, ten hours early, inadvertently carrying Passepartout.
Thursday 7 November 1872
15:00 – Fogg and the rest of his party embark on the small schooner Tankadere, bound for Nagasaki.
Monday 11 November 1872
19:00 – Fogg’s party board the steamship for Yokohama, directly from the Tankadere.
Wednesday 13 November 1872
Passepartout arrives in Yokohama, Japan on the Carnatic
Thursday 14 November 1872
Fogg arrives in Yokohama, Japan on the
18:30 – Departure of the General Grant steamship for the United States, carrying the reunited group.
Monday 2 December 1872
07:00 – The General Grant arrives in San Francisco

From San Francisco to  London – days 62-80, Ch25-Ch34


Monday 2 December 1872
07:00 – The General Grant arrives in San Francisco
18:00 – Departure of the train from San Francisco (Oakland) towards New York
Thursday 5 December 1872
14:00 – The train calls at Ogden for Salt Lake City
16:00 – The train leaves Salt Lake City
c.11.30 – The train is stopped at Kearney and the passengers are delayed
Sunday 8 December 1872
08:00 – Sail sledge from Kearney to Omaha
c13:00 – Departure of the train from Omaha to Chicago
Monday 9 December 1872
16:00 – Arrival of the train in Chicago
c.1630 – Departure of the train from Chicago to New York
Tuesday 10 December 1872
22:30 – Departure of the steamship China for Liverpool
23:15 – Arrival of the train in New York
Wednesday 11 December 1872
09:00 – Fogg ships on the Henrietta, across the Atlantic
Friday 20 December 1872
01:00 – The Henrietta enters the port of Queenstown in Ireland
01:30 – Departure of the train from Queenstown to Dublin
The times of the connections in Dublin are unspecified
11:40 – Arrival by steamship in Liverpool
15:00 – Departure of the train from Liverpool to London
20:50 – Arrival in London
Saturday 21 December 1872
20:45 – Deadline of the bet


The Snow Queen and her spawn

Posted on January 12th, 2014
The Snow Queen and her spawnThe Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Published by Reitzel in 1845
Pages: 40
Location: Europe, Scandinavia
Mode of travel: Boat, Reindeer, Sledge, Walking
Read it on Wikisource
*** Suitable for children and adults of any age ***

Gerda's friend Kay is missing presumed dead, but she can't rest without him. Half accidentally, half on purpose she sets off into the wide world to look for him. As she escapes the home of an enchantress, breaks into a palace and gets kidnapped by robbers, her own powers grow, until finally, she reaches the castle of the Snow Queen where her friend is held captive. Has she got what it takes to rescue him?

Verdict: one of the best fairy tales ever – and free!

More about The Snow Queen in a minute, but first this. I was inspired to reread The Snow Queen because Disney just released Frozen, very, very, very loosely based …  Even my adult friends told me Frozen was good and I should see it. My verdict on that one: I’m still friends with them, but I’m not sure I would pass the recommendation on.

FrozenA princess lives a cloistered life then becomes a fugitive because she can’t control her magic wintery powers. Only the true love of her sister can save her and their kingdom… What Disney should have done here is invested less effort in writing a new plot that isn’t as good as the original, and, given that they give the story a musical treatment, more effort in composing decent music.The animation is really very beautiful, the soundtrack sucks and the story is meh… I would probably watch this again, with the sound turned off and some classical music on in the background. On the other hand it’s not nearly as comical in a stupid way as the US and UK DVD covers respectively (why are they different?) make it look. So yeah, it’s that good – and that bad! I give it three stars… no two… okay two and a half. (Amazon USA, Amazon UK)

Gerda’s Journey

A lot of illustrations focus on the cold beauty of the Snow Queen but what really interests me is Gerda’s journey. And Kay’s of course. They actually start very similarly. Kay fastens his sledge to a stranger’s sleigh for fun and finds himself carried off by the Snow Queen. Gerda steps into a boat to ask the river for news of Kay and is carried off likewise, to the house of an enchantress. The Snow Queen kisses Kay to make him forget his previous life, the enchantress gives Gerda magic cherries for the same reason. He is trapped in eternal winter, she in eternal summer. Kay has an impossible occupation, a logic puzzle that can’t be solved by logic, Gerda has nothing to do but listen to flowers tell their silly self-centred stories all day long. It’s an allegory of course – Kay is trapped in an emotionless world of rationality, Gerda in a world of triviality and shallow pleasures. But Gerda escapes..

white_witch_and_edmund_by_autocon_femme-d32e2luThe caption says ‘Confusing Edmund Pevensie since 2005′, but it should be 1950, the publication date of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or even 1845 considering the obvious connection between this scene and the kidnapping of Kay in The Snow Queen. The White Witch gives Edmund turkish delight instead of a kiss. I would fall for that, any day. (book from Amazon USA, book from Amazon UK, film from Amazon USA, film from Amazon UK)

Actually, Gerda doesn’t escape the enchantress entirely under her own steam. The old woman gets careless and leaves one rose lying around to remind Gerda of the summer days she spent with her friend. But unlike Kay, Gerda still has the capacity to be touched by that memory and act on it. Her tears call back the roses of the garden long buried underground and they bring her news from the Land of the Dead: Kay is not there. She’s going to have to make a descent into another kind of Underworld. It’s quite mysterious. Sometimes I think I get it and other times, I’m sure I don’t. Maybe I’ll add more to this page later, as it comes to me.

 Ronia the Robber's DaughterI love the primeval nature of the forest and the robbers. I’m sure Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia, the robber’s daughter living in her half ruined castle and roaming the magical forest must have something to do with the robber girl in The Snow Queen, even is Ronia is a bit less wild and her story also has a Romeo and Juliet kind of theme. I never read this book as a child, but it was my daughter’s No1 favourite. (Amazon USA, Amazon UK)