Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jules Verne

Jules Verne was born on a small island within Nantes, France. He grew up there with his father (an attorney and devout Catholic), mother, and four younger siblings. At age six, Verne was sent to boarding school in Nantes and at eight went on to Catholic school. He excelled at geography from an early age and was especially interested in sailing, becoming a cabin boy on a ship at age eleven. As an adult, he moved to Paris, where his father expected him to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer, but Verne was more interested in writing poetry and plays. He frequented saloons where he met Alexandre Dumas and became a close friend and collaborator with his son. Verne began to write short stories that were both entertaining and educational about geography and science, and which were published serially in magazines. As he gained popularity and made contact with a well-known French publisher, Verne’s works began to be collected in a heavily-researched adventure novel sequence called the Voyages Extraorindaires. Around the World in Eighty Days is a part of this collection. Though Verne's works were initially considered children's literature, his reputation changed as he gained popularity and he is now regarded as an important predecessor of French avant-garde and surrealist literature. He is currently the second-most translated author in the world, second only to William Shakespeare.
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Historical Context of Around the World in Eighty Days

Around the World in Eighty Days takes place just after the Industrial Revolution, which brought about several notable milestones in the history of modern transportation that play a direct role in the story: the opening of the Suez Canal, the development of the Indian Railway system, and the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States. These feats, along with innovations like steam power and machine tools, allowed people to travel recreationally like never before. Verne, who had a lifelong captivation with geography and sailing, was clearly inspired by the potential for adventure that these innovations brought about. During this era of economic and technological expansion, British and American imperialism were also significant forces on the global landscape—an issue that Verne examines, albeit ambivalently, throughout Fogg and Passepartout’s travels and interactions with native populations.

Other Books Related to Around the World in Eighty Days

Though Jules Verne is generally considered a science fiction writer and is even referred to as “the father of science fiction,” Around the World in Eighty Days contains no elements of this futuristic genre. Instead, the story is rooted in Verne’s present-day world and is closely aligned with other adventure novels—exciting, suspenseful stories that were often published in serial installments. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Jack London's The Call of the Wild are popular examples of this genre. Verne was particularly influenced by fellow French writers Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables, and Alexandre Dumas, who wrote the well-known adventure novels The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.
Key Facts about Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Full Title: Around the World in Eighty Days
  • When Written: 1870-1871
  • Where Written: France
  • When Published: 1872 in serial form, 1873 in book form
  • Literary Period: Romanticism, realism
  • Genre: Adventure novel
  • Setting: Britain, Egypt, India, China, Japan, and the United States
  • Climax: Jean Passepartout realizes that he and Phileas Fogg gained a day on their journey around the world, and Fogg wins his £20,000 wager.
  • Antagonist: Detective Fix
  • Point of View: Third person

Extra Credit for Around the World in Eighty Days

Serial Offender. Like many of Verne’s other works, Around the World in Eighty Days was initially published in serial installments. Many readers believed that Phileas Fogg’s travels were real accounts rather than fictional episodes, and the public placed bets on his wager much like they did in the novel. The story’s ending, which takes place on December 21, 1872, was published on the same date.

Get Your Story Straight. Contemporary interpretations of Around the World in Eighty Days (including the popular 1956 film adaptation) have often portrayed Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout completing their journey around the globe in a hot air balloon. In the novel, however, they never travel by balloon; this detail is likely an abstraction of one of Verne’s earlier works, Five Weeks in a Balloon.