Read my Review of Around the World in 80 Days
Fun Facts and Context
- Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours was Jules Verne’s 11th novel. Like many of its time, it was first presented in a serialized format before it was compiled into a book (1873). The illustrations were by Alphonse de Neuville, a French painter known for his depictions of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).
- Verne served in the Franco-Prussian War. Doing research for this book likely served to take his mind off of those events.
- The dates of Fogg’s return to England coincided with the final date of publication for the original serial. Because of this, some readers believed they were reading a real travelogue rather than a fictional story.
A Common Misconception
- Many people associate a hot air balloon trip with this story. In fact, there was no balloon in the original text. Probably, this misconception is the result of the 1956 Disney film. This adaptation added an additional stop in Spain and the protagonists reached it by balloon. Jules Verne did write about a daring escape by balloon, but it wasn’t until The Mysterious Island was published in 1874.
Timeline and Synopsis of the Story
September 28, 1872: Bank of England is robbed. 50,000 GBP is stolen. This is the equivalent of four million GBP or 6.2 million USD today.
October 1, 1872: Phileas Fogg hires Passepartout as his new valet after his old valet gets the temperature of his shaving water wrong. Fogg goes from his home on Savile Row to the Reform Club as usual, and during a discussion about a new stretch of railroad in India he is drawn into a bet with his friends. With the hefty sum of 20,000 GBP (1.6 million today) on the line, he agrees to travel around the world and return at the same time 80 days later on December 21, 1872.
October 2, 1872: Fogg and Passepartout leave England by train.
October 9, 1872: After a brief stopover in France, the travelers reach Suez, Egypt and meet Detective Fix for the first time. He is on the trail of the bank robber. Fogg’s erratic behavior and passing resemblance to the vague description of the burglar make him a suspect. They leave Suez by ship with Fix in tow.
October 20, 1872: The travelers arrive in Bombay, India, two days ahead of schedule. Passepartout wanders into a temple and is chased out by the monks for not removing his shoes. He arrives at the platform and boards a train bound for Calcutta just in time.
The First Big Delay
October 22, 1872: Fogg’s train can go no further because the railway is unfinished. They manage to hire a guide called Parsee and an elephant named Kiouni to carry them.
October 24, 1872: While traveling through the jungle, the travelers encounter a ceremony. The young bride, Aouda, is being prepared to follow her aged husband into death. She cannot struggle because of the influence of drugs. Passepartout poses as the deceased man’s body and “rises from the dead” to scare the natives. Fogg and another traveling companion rescue her. They all escape by means of their trusty elephant and continue to Calcutta.
October 25, 1872 : The travelers arrive with five hours to spare to remain on their original itinerary. As soon as they arrive Passepartout, is arrested for his transgression in Bombay. Both he and Fogg are taken into custody. They use some of Fogg’s considerable cash resources to pay off his valet’s debt and make the noon ship bound for Hong Kong. Aouda continues on the journey because India is no longer safe for her. Fix, still without a warrant but with high hopes for Britain’s Easternmost colony, tags along in secret.
November 7, 1872: The travelers arrive in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Aouda’s family member had already moved away from Hong Kong years earlier. While out getting supplies for the next step of the journey, Passepartout gets news of an earlier departure time for their vessel. Fix still has not received his warrant for Fogg’s arrest and is determined to keep him from leaving British soil. Fix invites Passepartout out for a farewell drink and gets him to try opium. The valet becomes so besotted that he falls asleep and Fogg does not hear about the new travel arrangements.
In his delirium, Passepartout says the name of the disembarking ship and is brought there and installed in his master’s cabin. He awakes the next morning to find that he has left his master behind. But, he’s determined to rejoin him somewhere along his route and alert him to the danger that Fix represents. Fogg hires a small vessel called the Tankadere to carry he and Aouda to Shanghai to catch the ferry to Yokohama at its next port.
November 13, 1872: Passepartout arrives penniless in Yokohama, Japan. To continue his journey to America to intercept his master, he offers his services to the owner of a traveling circus. He is hired as an acrobat and during his first performance is astounded to see Fogg and Aouda in the audience. They’d also arrived in Yokohama after flagging down the American vessel in the port of Shanghai. Fix continues to travel with Fogg, who is covering all of his expenses.
November 23, 1872 : Fogg and company pass the 180th meridian, which marks the halfway point of their circumnavigation of the planet.
December 3, 1872: The travelers reach San Francisco and are caught up in a political rally where Fogg has a confrontation with an American named Colonel Stamp Proctor. Fix steps in to help because he needs Fogg to return to England before he can be arrested. The company boards a train that evening intent upon using the Transcontinental Railway to reach New York.
December 7, 1872: Fogg runs into Colonel Proctor on the train and a duel ensues. It is interrupted by an attack on the train by the Sioux tribe. They take Passepartout hostage and Fogg, Fix and Aouda are left behind when the train continues on its route.. With the help of American soldiers stationed nearby, Fogg retrieves Passepartout. The travelers are forced to continue by way of a wind-powered sledge to Omaha in hopes of catching another train.
December 9, 1872: Once they arrive in Omaha, they board a train for Chicago.
December 10, 1872: Get to Chicago and board a train for New York.
December 11, 1872: They get to the docks 45 minutes late for their steamship from New York to Liverpool.
December 12, 1872: The party boards a ship bound for Bordeaux with little hope of arriving in London before the December 21 deadline. They have no choice. It is the only ship with a destination even close to England.
December 16, 1872: Fogg buys the ship from the captain and throws all of the wooden parts into the furnace to fuel their journey. He redirects the ship to bring them to Liverpool, England.
The Motherland is in sight!
December 21, 1872: With six hours to reach London in order to win the bet, Fogg and co. arrive in Liverpool. They would have just enough time to beat their deadline, but now that they have finally arrived on English soil, Fix arrests Fogg. It doesn’t take long to find out the real bank robber had been caught during the mad dash around the world. But the short delay is just enough to lose the wager for Fogg. He arrives in London 5 minutes late.
Actually, December 21, 1872: The party gained an entire day during their journey, but they have yet to realize it. Aouda proposes marriage to Fogg and he heartily accepts. They intend to marry that very day and send Passepartout for the parson. When he arrives at the parson’s door he says he cannot perform the ceremony at that time because it is Sunday and he was busy on church business. Passepartout races back to Savile Row and whisks Fogg away to the Reform Club, where he arrives exactly on time to win the wager.
References in Steampunk Literature and Other Media
- Philip Jose Farmer wrote The Other Log of Phileas Fogg as part of his Wold Newton Universe. In it, Fogg is the foster child of an alien and Captain Nemo is aligned with another race of aliens. The bet and journey around the world were an elaborate cover story to disguise Fogg’s quest for an alien artefact that would change the tide of the war between the two competing races.
- It has been adapted for film five times since 1919, the most recent being in 2004, where martial arts expert and comedic actor Jackie Chan played Passepartout opposite Steven Coogan (Night at the Museum, Despicable Me 2) as Phileas Fogg in a new adaptation of the novel.
- It has been adapted for television four times since 1972, including a Japanese version where all the characters are animals.
- Mark Brown adapted the story for the stage for the first time in 2001. He has also written a sequel for the stage for another Victorian classic in the form of The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge.
- In 2014, a game called “80 Days” was launched by Inkle Development Company. It is an interactive game that blends the story and retro-futuristic technology.
- Also in 2014, Ben Steele released a version of Around the World in 80 Days (a Steampunk Reimagining) with illustrations by Josh Ross. It includes “lost” content and a board game.
- The International Steampunk Symposium in April of 2015 featured the theme “Around the World in 48 Hours” as an homage to Verne’s work.