Thursday, April 23, 2009

Around the World in 80 Days

I pulled up a free copy on the Kindle and I’ve read it in between the more serious nonfiction sitting on my nightstand. I know I’ve read an abridged version but I don’t think I’ve ever read the entire work. I could relate to Passepartout seeking out an employer who could be consistent and dependable. Too bad his first day on the job turns out to be the day the dependable Phileas Fogg gets rash.

The cast of characters:

Phileas Fogg - a gentleman (when that word meant something) of unknown means, very regular in his actions with no time or energy wasted on superfluous activity or emotions. It is easy to believe he has no emotions - he is not excited or irritated by anything, but calmly takes the good and the bad, the beautiful and the mundane, and continues about his business without curiosity or urgency.

Passepartout - naturally good-spirited Frenchman, looking for a stable, reliable master where things are very well regulated. He is a perfect fit for Fogg. He is also, unfortunately, the direct or indirect cause of most of the delays. And he left the gas light in his room running when they left England.

Detective Fix - a policeman determined that Fogg is a bank robber and working hard to get Fogg and a warrant on English soil at the same time so he can arrest Fogg. He starts out by putting obstacles in their way while he could possibly arrest Fogg in India or Hong Kong (English colonies), and then by helping them to rush them back to English soil once they get into Japan and the United States.

Aouda is the Indian widow doomed to be burned to death on her husbands funeral bier until Fogg and Passepartout, along with an English colonel and a native rescue her. She can’t be left in India so she joins their party. She is indeed grateful to Fogg and he is very solicitous of her comfort.

Much is made about how Fogg seems to have no emotions and that is in direct contrast to the other members of the party who are excited by the sites, and depressed by the delays, and fret and worry over the bad luck they run into. I admire that Fogg sleeps calmly and is not disturbed by the things he cannot control. I do think more emotion along the positive side would be welcome. Not that he doesn’t feel it, perhaps, but he could certainly demonstrate a bit more. He is very solicitous of the feelings of others.

I still doubt they could get through the US without realizing they were a day ahead. If the ship left New York on time then it would have left a day before the day they expected (per his trusty schedule). I do understand not looking at any newpapers or otherwise seeing the date. Surely Fix was flooded with information after his embarassing false-arrest and he could have sent a telegram. But, the ending is good, even if it is convenient.

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