Phileas Fogg and his companions stopped fifty paces from the pyre, upon which lay the rajah’s corpse; and the live sacrifice victim, quite senseless, stretched out beside her husband’s body. A torch was brought, and the wood, heavily soaked with oil, instantly took fire.
But the whole scene suddenly changed. A cry of terror arose. The whole multitude threw themselves, terror-stricken, on the ground.
The dead rahaj rose like a spectre, took his wife in his arms, and descended from the pyre amidst clouds of smoke. Fakirs and soldiers and priests seized with terror, lay with their faces on the ground, not daring to lift their eyes.
The corpse approached Mr. Fogg and Sir Francis, and, in an abrupt tone, said, “Let us be off!”
Critics have complained that while Verne got his schedules and his geography right, he produced some cultural howlers. While it’s silly to protest Fogg’s early dining hours, for he is supposed to be an eccentric, it would have been odd indeed for his whist partners at the Reform Club to have begun play regularly at seven P.M., a time much more appropriate for dinner or a before-dinner sherry. One irate member of the Reform Club, which had a politically liberal membership, demanded that Verne change the newspaper in which Fogg found the timetable from the conservative
to the more liberal
(Verne dutifully made the change in subsequent editions).
Several commentators have pointed out that Verne’s description of the Calcutta law court and California electioneering are stretching things a lot for humorous effect. I feel that the description of the Indian practice of suttee, which was factually accurate, failed to make clear the strength of the cultural/religious tradition that demands this practice, and makes the majority of its victims voluntary (the practice continues to this day, despite the energetic opposition of the Indian government).
Remembering that Verne lived in an age that for sixty more years used “That’s white of you” as the ultimate compliment, what strikes one overall is Verne’s remarkable sympathy for people of races and cultures other than his own. Fogg, after all, marries the Indian widow Aouda, a step which Verne wisely did not attempt to convince us his Reform Club would have tolerated.
There is something in Phileas Fogg of Jules Verne himself, incidentally. As a very young man Verne was infatuated with several young women but seems to have found it difficult even to talk to them, let alone feel easy in their presence. There are many stories, through his life, of his remaining tongue tied, or at least silent and distant, throughout social occasions. His son, Michel, through extravagance and business failures, cost Verne a great deal of money, which he quietly paid. They eventually came to a more cooperative relationship. Indeed, Verne named his three yachts
Later in life he took long cruises on them, seeing much of the territory Fogg traveled. Of course, there may have been even more in him of Captain Nemo, the mysterious and bitter inventor and submarine captain of
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,
who reappears and dies in
two of Verne’s most enduring masterpieces.
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
All new material in this edition is copyright © 1988 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
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is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
First eBook Edition : October 2011
First Tor edition: May 1990