Saturday Jan. 30, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Around the World in 80 Days
On this Day:
In 1873, “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne was first published in France by Pierre-Jules Hetzel.
Around the World in Eighty Days (French: Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours) is an adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, first published in French in 1872. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager (approximately £2.3 million in 2020 or $3.15 million USD, or $4.04 million CDN) set by his friends at the Reform Club. It is one of Verne’s most acclaimed works.
The story starts in London on Wednesday, 2 October 1872.
Phileas Fogg is a rich British gentleman living a solitary life. Despite his wealth, Fogg lives a modest life with habits carried out with mathematical precision. Very little can be said about his social life other than that he is a member of the Reform Club, where he spends the best part of his days. Having dismissed his former valet, James Forster, for bringing him shaving water at 84 °F (29 °C) instead of 86 °F (30 °C), Fogg hires Frenchman Jean Passepartout as a replacement.
At the Reform Club, Fogg gets involved in an argument over an article in The Daily Telegraph stating that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for £20,000, half of his total fortune, from his fellow club members to complete such a journey within this time period. With Passepartout accompanying him, Fogg departs from London by train at 8:45 p.m. on 2 October; in order to win the wager, he must return to the club by this same time on 21 December, 80 days later. They take the remaining £20,000 of Fogg’s fortune with them to cover expenses during the journey.
Around the World in Eighty Days was written during difficult times, both for France and for Verne. It was during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) in which Verne was conscripted as a coast guard; he was having financial difficulties (his previous works were not paid royalties); his father had died recently; and he had witnessed a public execution, which had disturbed him. Despite all this, Verne was excited about his work on the new book, the idea of which came to him one afternoon in a Paris café while reading a newspaper.
The technological innovations of the 19th century had opened the possibility of rapid circumnavigation and the prospect fascinated Verne and his readership. In particular, three technological breakthroughs occurred in 1869–70 that made a tourist-like around-the-world journey possible for the first time: the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in America (1869), the linking of the Indian railways across the sub-continent (1870), and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869). It was another notable mark in the end of an age of exploration and the start of an age of fully global tourism that could be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety. It sparked the imagination that anyone could sit down, draw up a schedule, buy tickets and travel around the world, a feat previously reserved for only the most heroic and hardy of adventurers (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
“How can you ever be late for anything in London? They have a huge clock right in the middle of the town.” – Jimmy Kimmel
Second, a Song:
The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is a 22-episode science fiction television series in the steampunk genre that first aired in June 2000 on CBC Television in Canada. The series first ran in the United States on cable on The Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy), and lasted for one season.
The premise begins with the revelation that Jules Verne did not merely write the stories behind his famous science fiction classic books Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth or Around the World in Eighty Days — but actually experienced these adventures personally.
This series is notably the first hour-long series filmed entirely in HDTV format.
“Superman (It’s Not Easy)” (also titled as “Superman”) is a song written and performed by American singer Five for Fighting. It was released in April 2001 as the second single from his second studio album America Town. Following the September 11 attacks, the song was used to honor the victims, survivors, police, and firefighters involved in the attacks.
The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 38 on October 27, 2001, then subsequently peaked at number 14, becoming Five for Fighting’s first top-forty hit in the United States. The single was a major hit in Australia and New Zealand, reaching number two on both countries’ national charts. It additionally reached the top 20 in Ireland, Italy and Norway. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002 (per Wikipedia).
Here is a mashup of a video of scenes of Michael Praed playing Phileas Fogg on the Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, set to Superman (It’s Not Easy). I hope you enjoy this!
(Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be on Prime Video or Netflix..)
Thought for the Day:
“Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” – Jules Verne
Dr. Frank Fowlie of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada writes in response to the Burns Dinner Smile: “Best post ever!! Love the song”
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky