Around the World in 80 Days


Around the World in 80 Days  by  Jules Verne

Around the World in 80 Days is a popular story and has many variations.  I remember when I was younger there was a computer game called Around the World in 80 days.  It was made in 1994 and by EA kids and Novotrade.  It’s a straight forward kids game, you can’t take wrong turns or do anything wrong.  You get an animated brief case with things like a book, an hour glass, an eraser, paint brush, etc.  You use these supplies to help your game in silly ways.  Looking back now I’m sure it’s a horribly sad game, but back then I loved it.

Phileas Fogg is a wealthy Londoner known for his punctuality, among other oddities.  He fires his servant for bringing him shaving water that was off a few degrees of his preferred temperature.  He hires a new servant named Jean Passepartout, and sets off to his Reform Club.  Although Fogg is very wealthy, he lives modestly, but with clockwork precision.  While at the reform club, some of the fellow members are having a decision about a bank robbery.  As the conversation turns and Fogg joins, he makes a bet with some of his fellow members, that he would be able to go around the world in 80 days.  His wager is $20,000.  This amount being in London pounds is equivalent to over $1,000,000.  I wasn’t aware of this conversation, not taking into account currency conversation as well as the date. 

Phileas Fogg is very quiet and composed throughout the whole journey, never faltering in his assurances that he will arrive on time.  In fact he is even ahead of schedule, until a series of events and adventures begin to set him back.  With his new servant causing problems, unknown to himself, his odds seem against him.  Especially when a detective follows the description of the bank robber to Phileas Fogg, and follows him around the world, both trying to hinder and help his journey. 

I was familiar with the story, without ever having read the book.  However, after reading the book, I’m wondering where all the differences in my mind came from. There are many movies, old and new, as well as TV shows based on this story.  I believe these influenced my ideas of what the story would be like.  The general gist I knew was a man makes a bet to go around the world in 80 days.  I was under the impression that it was a bet against another man, and they race each other.  I imaging running into each other and trying to foil each others plans etc.  The one image that was the most prevalent in my mind was the idea of hot air balloons.  Whenever I thought of Around the World in 80 days, I picture a hot air balloon.  This is clearly something from the movies or TV shows, the Hollywood revamp perhaps.  Throughout the entire story by Jules Verne there is not a single mention of a hot air balloon.  I was always wondering and expecting for this to come up, and it never does.

The concept of the story is interesting, and I have to admit that I like the hot air balloons and other fancies added to the story.  In comparison to the actual story, there are many things in the book that I didn’t care for.  Rather boring, unadventurous things occur to fill up gaps and to postpone Foggs journey.  Without the original story, we would not have the fancied up versions so I guess you still have to give the book credit.  I hate to say it, but this is one of those stories that is better left to movies, instead of reading the book.



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