Review of Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne

February 4, 2011
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LISTENING LIBRARY - Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules VerneAround The World In Eighty Days
By Jules Verne; Read by Jim Dale
7 CDs – Approx. 7 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0307206424
Themes: / Adventure / 19th Century / Gambling / Religion / Mormonism /

Shocking his stodgy colleagues at the exclusive Reform Club, enigmatic Englishman Phileas Fogg wagers his fortune, undertaking an extraordinary and daring enterprise to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. With his French valet Passepartout in tow, Verne’s hero traverses the far reaches of the earth, all the while tracked by the intrepid Detective Fix, a bounty hunter certain he is on the trail of a notorious bank robber. Combining exploration, adventure, and a thrilling race against time, Around The World In Eighty Days gripped audiences upon its original publication and remains hugely popular to this day.

When I get into a subject, I really get into it. I think I’m becoming something of an Around The World In Eighty Days expert. I’ve tracked down the episode of Have Gun Will Travel that includes a visit from Phileas Fogg. I’ve gotten my mitts on several audiobook versions, and a BBC radio dramatization too. I’ve watched the Michael Palin series that took inspiration from the novel. I poured over the Classics Illustrated comics version.

Phileas Fogg, who seems to epitomize a certain kind of stereotypical Englishman, is described as emotionless. He makes his calculations, and like the watch he carries, ticks away without a wasted movement. At one point a certain travelling companion makes a remark something like “this is the only time I’ve seen you become emotional” this when confronted by the prospect of sitting idly by while a woman is burned alive. Fogg’s reponse: “I am emotional, when I have the time.” That burning, by the way, takes the form of a Hindu “suttee.” Later on in Utah, Passepartout, Fogg’s manservant, takes in a sermon in the form of a lecture on the history of Mormonism. It’s a hilarious scene, and as such this book is one of the few classics that I will probably re-read. Around The World In Eighty Days overflows such gems. It’s biggest failing is that a good deal of the suspense Verne injects comes from out of nowhere, clunks around the pages, making waste, only to sputter out into utter forgetability at the end.

Narrator Jim Dale, best known for his work on the Listening Library Harry Potter audiobooks, brings a full range of accents and voices to this audiobook. Dale does a really terrific Passepartout! The production includes some seemingly randomly insterted music and sound effects that nearly drown out Dale’s performance. That’s bad. Additional mistakes include an image of a hot air balloon on the cover. There is absolutely no balloon in this novel, though one appears in a couple of video adaptations.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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