Around the world in 80 days is an adventure novel in the series of ‘Voyages Extraordinaires’ written by Jules Verne in 1872-73. The story tells the adventure of Phileas Phogg, a British gentlemen and his valet Passepartout, who embark on an adventure to circumnavigate the world in less than 80 days for a wager of £20,000 (almost £2.3 million in 2021!). Even if the idea of navigating the world in a certain period of time can be dated back to centuries earlier, Verne’s novel was popularized a few years before the actual exploit of navigating around the world in under 80 days was done. Around the world in 80 days is one of the most appreciated novels written by Jules Verne, and it has been adapted in many series and movies over the years. The themes encompassing the notion of human fidelity and honour, but also of cultural differences, globalization, technological progress and industrialization are deeply rooted in 19th century society. Indeed, written at the time where ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire’, Around the world in 80 days is a starring light in European adventure literature.
Jules Gabriel Verne (8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet and playwright. He was born in Nantes, and grew up in their family home in a fairly traditional fashion for the time. His father sent him to Paris to study law, in the hope that he would take the practice. In 1848, while Verne lived in Paris, France went through a revolution, riots and protests erupted throughout the city and King Louis-Phillipe was overthrown, with the Second Republican Government established. In Paris, Verne continued to study law, but would never practice. In 1850, He met Alexandre Dumas (son) and became a close friend of his. In the next few years, he spent most of his time time in cafes and circles of the Parisian artists scenes, wrote plays and essays and created relationship. He married Honorine, and to provide for his life, entered the stock market business.
His literary career took a turn when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel. It is not sure when he met his future publisher, but it is believed that it happened between 1852-58. In 1861, Verne gave the manuscript of ‘A voyage in the air’ to his publisher who asked him to rework the text in a more scientific way. Vernes came back with his novel ‘Five weeks in a balloon’ that became popular instantly. This focus on science, technology and adventure would become his trademark. The following year, he signed a contract with Hetzel to produce 2 volume per year. This marked the beginning of the Voyages Extraordinaires series. Verne would spend the next 40 years and more than 62 volumes for his collection. In the following years, he wrote two novels (Adventures of Captain Hatteras and Journey to the center of the earth) which were huge success. He could therefore give up his job, and focus solely on writing. In 1867, L’Academie Francaise, a revered French Institution focused on perfecting the French language and culture, recognized the novels of Jules Verne. He tried to enter the Academie in the following years, but unsuccessfully. He lived the next years of his life in Amiens, around literary circles, writing novels and sailing. In 1886, he is shot in the leg by his cousin who is accused of madness. He would never walk properly again, so Verne is forced to settled down. He gets invested in the local life of Amiens, and into its politics. In 1902, he did not really write anymore as he felt his intellectual capacities declining. He died in March 1905 in his house in Amiens.
His legacy, however, lives on. His Voyage Extraordinaires collection has been published in many languages, and many of his works have been adapted into plays, tv series, movies, comics and animation. Outside of the literary world, his legacy is broad as well. The Jules Verne Trophy for example is a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world, inspired by the famous novel Around the World in 80 days. A space ship developed by the EU to supply the ISS was baptized Jules Verne. Societies and Circles dedicated to the idea of scientific advancement are created, as Jules Verne’s work is an ode to scientific progress and imagining what the future could be like.
2. The Literary work:
- The literary genre
Around the world in 80 days is an adventure novel. Adventure fiction is a genre that usually present action, excitement and suspense. Adventure novels can be taken back to the Medieval Period, with the adventurous tales of fighting knights, but they have mostly seen an boom in the mid-19th century and onwards. Indeed, adventure novels are popularized in the 1850s in France and England in particular, and are marked by world exploration and discoveries, the domination of European expansion, the conquest West and technological advancements.
- Its European, or even international dimension (inspiration, literary current, posterity)
The novel itself draws inspiration from previous accounts of trips around the world. The Greek traveler Pausanias (2nd century BC) explored Greece but also Asia and Africa and wrote everything down which is considered a first account of a trip around the world. In 1699, an Italian traveler (Giovanni Gemelli Careri) wrote a book with a similar concept of story and title. In 1780, George Francis Train actually made the trip around the world in 80 days, and claimed to have inspired Verne’s novel.
In 1872, Thomas Cook begins a real life trip around the world, and even if the two were too contemporary to have been inspired by one another, Verne state that an advertisement he saw in a newspaper about Cook’s trip inspired him.
In more recent years, the novel has been adapted into various format. In 1956, a first movie directed by Michael Anderson received several Oscars. In 2004, a second movie featuring Jackie Chan, Seve Coogan and Cecile de France is produced. Several Tv series, and animation shorts and even plays have also been produced to feature Phileas Phogg and Passepartout. The concept of 80 days also inspired a cookbook named: “A table avec Jules Verne et Phileas Phogg – Tour du monde en 80 recettes” (Sittle with Jules Verne and Phileas Phogg – Around the world in 80 recipes” !
- The main questions/problems of the time addressed in the story
Around the world in 80 days was written in 1872, at a time of technological advancements and new feat. Indeed, Verne’s journey highlights 3 major achievements: the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in America (1869), the linking of the Indian railways (1870), and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869), all of which have marked the global society in regards to economics, culture and progress. These technological feat are relevant even to this day, as seen recently in the news. Indeed in 2021 for example, around 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal, and when a ship was blocked in the middle for about a week, estimated stated that around 9.6bn of trade were hold up, per day!
The novel also covers the notion of British imperialism and colonialism. In 1876, after decades of increasing control, Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India, and India became the largest British colony. They ruled over India up until 1947. At a similar time, in 1842, after years of trading tea and the First Opium war, England acquires Hong Kong. They kept the power for almost 150 years. Jules Verne, in his writing does not specifically promotes nor condemns colonization, but rather describes the state of the world he lived in.
3. The eBook :
- The gallery of characters
Phileas Phogg: Main character in the story, he is a wealthy Englishman, who embarks on an adventure for play. He is set like clockwork, stern and unmoved, yet proves loyal towards his companions. He shows little to no emotion, but is determined and smart.
Jean Passepartout: Passepartout is honest, comical and loyal. He is also brave, warm and overall the ideal of a traveling companion. Despite his cheerful side, he is easily stressed out by unplanned situation and eager to succeed.
Ms Aouda: Aouda is an Indian Princess saved by the travelers between Bombay and Calcutta. She is young, timid and quiet. Educated with an English background she is also delicate, and proved to be a companion for Phileas Phogg. They fall in love at the end of the adventure.
Detective Fix: Mr. Fix is a detective for Scotland Yard. He mistakenly believes that Phogg is a bank robber, and will stop at no end to catch him! Determined and cunning, he proves to be fair and an upstanding citizen.
Sir Francis Cromarty: A English companion who lives in India. Him, Phileas and Passepartout will travel throughout India on an elephant! He is a source of information for the two foreigners.
- The location
Phileas Phogg is from London, England. His valet, Passepartout is French but lives in London. Their journey will take them throughout the entire world, though only in the Northern Hemisphere. Here is an overview of their trip:
|London to Suez, Egypt||Rail to Brindisi, Italy, via Turin and steamer (the Mongolia) across the Mediterranean Sea.||7 days|
|Suez to Bombay, India||Steamer (the Mongolia) across the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.||13 days|
|Bombay to Calcutta, India||Rail.||3 days|
|Calcutta to Victoria, Hong Kong with a stopover in Singapore||Steamer (the Rangoon) across the South China Sea||13 days|
|Hong Kong to Yokohoma, Japan||Steamer (the Carnatic) across the South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean.||6 days|
|Yokohama to San Francisco, USA||Steamer (the General Grant) across the Pacific Ocean.||22 days|
|San Francisco to New York City, USA||Rail.||7 days|
|New York to London, UK||Steamer (the China) across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool and rail.||9 days|
- Iconography in the ebook
For the illustration of this eBook, two main art techniques were used; sketches and watercolours. Illustrations from Alphonse de Neuville and Leon Benett were used throughout the eBook as they were illustrations made for the original “Around the World in 80 days” that came out in 1872. These sketches are mostly in black and white. In addition, several sketches from various books were used, mostly taken from the British Library, UK. The watercolours are used to show the landscapes of the countries, the boats and trains that were taken throughout the journey. Many of the artwork come from the Maritime Museum of Greenwich, UK.
4. Workshop design
PHASE 1 : ENTERING THE EBOOK : UNIVERSE, ATMOSPHERE AND HYPOTHESES
Activity: Where are you from?
Entry activity in ebook
Materials needed for the activity
- Information sheets (Location, population, etc.) about various countries (with images). If possible, use the countries of the students.
Before the session:
- Prepare the info sheet and distribute them to the different groups of students.
In the workshop:
- Divide the students into small groups. Assign a country to each group, or depending on the number of the student, a country to each student.
- Allow them some time to discover the information. For students with little to no reading skills, use the images on the sheets to gather the answers.
- Then, in groups, let students share and ask questions to each other regarding their country’s information! Guide them by providing them with pre-made questions when needed depending on the level of the students.
- This can take the form of a presentation (France is …, The population is…), or a dialogue between students (I am France, I have…). Be careful that little to non-readers might have issues with reading big numbers. Introduce big numbers before the session if needed.
This activity can also be done with other main subjects of the story, for example, technology or transportation, etc. Students can be assigned a specific subjects (boats, trains, clocks, steamers, etc.) and have some specific information about it in their info sheet, and play the same conversation games.
PHASE 2 : DIVING INTO THE EBOOK
Activity 1: Around the world…
Preparation activity for global understanding
- A map of the world, preferably dated from the 19th century. Alternatively, a globe can be used as well.
- Labels with means of transportation and images, for example, a picture of a train, boat etc. These must be relevant to the eBook (no planes for example).
- Pins, or small stickers and a string.
Before the session:
- Distribute the maps, and items to each group.
In the workshop:
- Split the students into groups. Each group should have a map, as well as stickers and label.
- Put the students into the situation. It is 1872, which way would they go to go around the world in under 80 days? They will have to use the labels to guide them and to show which transportation they would take, and when. Student with little to no speaking and reading skills can therefore use the images.
- At the end, use the string to draw the journey throughout the world. Each group will not have the same itinerary.
- If the group is heterogenous, interact with these students and ask why they think we could go through their regions, or not.
- Engage in a discussion with the class, there is no right or wrong answer here.
Activity 2: London – Bombay
Global understanding activity
- Labels with the names of the main characters on them.
- Labels with short description of each characters. The description can be supported by visual images (emojis, etc.) for learners with little to no reading skills.
- 3 newspaper titles (2 false, 1 true) with headings linked to the first part of the story (for eg, “British man makes it to New York in 3 days!” is clearly false).
For more advanced levels:
- A chart with an X axis that will highlight the journey (do not fill it in beforehand, or it will spoil the surprise) and a Y axis with information to gather throughout the journey (time, means of transportation, unplanned event…). See Appendix 1 for ideas.
Before the session:
- Show the titles on the board, or through a projector.
- Distribute the various labels to each group.
- Distribute a chart to each student (advanced groups)
In the workshop:
In this activity, students will get familiar with the main characters, the preparation phase and the beginning of the journey. Give the instructions beforehand.
- First and prior to the reading, gather prediction based on the title of the eBook and the previous activity. What is the story going to be about?
- Shows the news titles then ask the student to choose the most appropriate newspaper title they think is linked to the story. They will be able to confirm or change their answer after the reading. For students with little to no reading skills, read the titles for them, and focus on key words that they can recognized and understand.
- For more advanced groups, distribute the chart to the students. The chart is empty on the X axis as they don’t know which way the protagonists are going to go. Ask them to keep their table for the entirety of the workshop as it spans over multiple activity.
- Then, present the characters and ask the students to guess the name of the character and their description. Who is Mr. Fix? Who is Mr. Phogg? Students will therefore get familiar with common description words, such as adjectives and key sentences (he is + adj, etc.).
- A first reading takes place after these predictions. Reading should be done without audio for the first time.
- Allow students to discuss in groups and share their answer. Which title was correct? Which characters fits which description?
- Allow for a second reading, with the audio support for level 1 and 2.
- Discuss the results with the class to ensure that the bases are solid.
Activity 3: Bombay – San Francisco
Fine-grained comprehension activity
A list of all adventures that took place between Bombay and San Francisco, plus a list of false things that happened (eg: Passepartout visits a Pagoda, They save a woman, They buy a cow, etc.) For little to non-readers, use the images from the eBook and on the internet to support the statements.
Before the session:
- Distribute the list to the students.
Note: If students in the classroom have specific learning disorders, divide the list into easy-to-use and clear strips so that students’ eyes don’t have to travel through the entire page every time they are looking for an information.
In the workshop:
This activity take place after the reading of the second and third part of the eBook.
- Before the reading, gather predictions of what the students think is going to happen next. Also ask the more advanced groups to continuously fill in their charts with the summary of the trip.
- Distribute the list of events with their correlated images and the false statements. If students are at a stronger level, mix the statements so that they can re-arrange them when they are reading.
- For students with little to no reading skills, spend extra time introducing the sentence by reading them, and focusing on the key words from the eBook to recognize.
- Then, let student read Part 2 and 3 of the story. This can be done with the support of the audio directly.
- Then, ask them to cross off the false statements, discussing with the class the answers.
- Depending on the levels of the students, they can read the story again, or check specific extracts if they need clarification.
- Use the second reading to clarify the chronology of the journey and make sure all the adventures are understood.
Activity 4: San Francisco – London
Fine-grained comprehension activity
- Optional: A mic, chairs, and a camera.
Before the session:
- Prepare the front the classroom in a sort of ‘TV interview’ style.
In the workshop:
- First, ask the students if they think that Mr. Phogg and Passepartout are going to make it. Take a vote with the whole classroom.
- Spend some time discussing how they are going to make their journey across, to further reinforce the lexis of transport and journey.
- Then, ask the students to read Part 4 of the story. They will learn the end of the story as well as the last turns of events!
- Once they have read the story, ask students to form groups of 2 or 3, and to pretend they are in an interview. Assign a role to each student, interviewees and interviewer.
- Give some time for students to prepare their questions and answers. Depending on the level of the classroom, you can spend extra time to introduce the type of questions to use (where, what is, etc.) so that students with little to no speaking skills can formulate their interview.
- Then in groups, let students interview each other!
- For participants with little to no speaking skills, allow them to use their maps or tables to explain their journey, or even images printed from the eBooks.
- This activity will allow students to practice their questions but also their descriptions skills from the previous activities.
To go further
Journeys around the world have fascinated people for a long time. Therefore, it would be interesting to ask students to look at the more recent ‘around the world’ exploits such as the first trip made by a woman, or on foot, by bike etc. This would allow students to discover more about their contemporary explorers and adventurers! Furthermore, a focus can be made on the cultural aspect of the trip, and can begin discussion based on the countries they traveled to, the colonial power and presence at the time, etc. then move on to more contemporary exploits and their cultural dimension.
PHASE 3 : THE CREATIVE STAGE
Activity 4: Your own journey
Activity of appropriation of the reading experience
- Computers/tablets/smartphone to do online research.
- If computers aren’t available, encyclopedias and/or atlas (there should be enough for each groups).
- Pens, pencils and A3 papers.
- A world map.
- For students with little to no skills, the labels with means of transportation from the previous activities.
Before the workshop:
- Distribute the supplies to each group.
In the workshop:
- Divide the classroom into groups of 2 or 3 students. If the classroom is heterogenous, try to create groups that are mixed in levels and origins.
- Each group will have to pick a country and present it to the rest of the classroom. If students have access to internet and depending on their levels, ask them to pick a time period as well. If they chose the 19th century for example, ask them to present the society of the time, etc.
- Allow them some time to research and create their presentation.
- Then, ask the student to draw on the map which way and how they would travel to from where they are, to the country they picked. Remember, if they chose a time period, use the appropriate means of transportation.
- Students with little to no writing or reading skills can use the various labels given in the previous activities.
Students can pick a specific country and trace the way in which they would get there, and rather than presenting with pens and paper, can reenact the conversations between Passepartout and Mr. Phogg. Acting can be a great tool to include all students, regardless of their learning difficulties. Students with little to no speaking skills can present with maps and colour while students with little writing and reading skills can act.
|London-Suez||Suez-Bombay||Bombay-Calcutta||Calcutta-Hong Kong||Hong Kong- Yokohoma||Yokohoma- San Francisco||San Francisco – New York||New York – London|
|Time||7 days||13 days||3 days||13 days||6 days||22 days||7 days||9 days|
|Seas and Oceans crossed|
|What happened ?|