Scurra's Reviews > Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
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Sep 20, 08

bookshelves: fiction
Read in January, 1980

Jules Verne has much in common with one of my favourite authors, Piers Anthony. You don't read him for the literary or stylistic qualities, you read him for the cool ideas. And 130 years later, this is still a seriously cool idea - a race against time based on a plausible real-world scenario.

It's very difficult not to get caught up in the story, which rattles along almost as quickly as Phileas Fogg pursues his journey with a single-mindedness that puts most other action heroes to shame. The supporting cast (Passpartout, Fix and Princess Aouda) are caricatures but none the worse for that, and some of the walk-on parts are fun. Even the twist at the end (which really does come as a surprise if you didn't know it in advance) makes for a splendidly tense ending. Even the more ridiculous howlers perpetrated in the name of narrative are pretty unimportant overall.

Of all his books, this and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea are the two that deserve a permanent listing amongst the Victorian classics - being as wondrous an evocation of its own age as any Dickens or Austen. (If not more so, as his depictions of different cultures show us how differently the world looked a century or more ago. I find him remarkably even-handed as a writer; he ridicules every one equally, even the English and the French through his main characters.)

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