One of the all-time great adventure novels and certainly the most famous non-science fiction one by Jules Verne.
In 1872 London, UK, the very proper English gentleman Phileas Fogg finds himself in a wager at his social club that he can travel around the world in eighty days, a seemingly impossible feat to Fogg’s doubters. Thus committed, Fogg begins his trip at once, bringing along his new manservant, Jean Passepartout, who ironically wanted a nice sedate job after years traveling about in various jobs such as an acrobat or fireman.
Along the way, Fogg and Passepartout have numerous adventures as they struggle to keep to a strict schedule. The most notable one in the first half is rescuing the beautiful Indian woman, Aouda, from being forced into a ceremonial self-immolation in India. Although Fogg tries to help her reach relatives in another safe British colony, this proves impossible and she becomes their fast companion for keeps who herself becomes more and more attracted to the dashing and intriguing Fogg.
Unfortunately, there is a bank robbery in London and although Fogg is completely innocent, his trip abroad seems too coincidental by Detective Fix’s reckoning. So, as Fogg begins his race, Fix follows him, unsuccessfully trying to keep his quarry stationary and initially unaware of how far he is going until it becomes more worthwhile to help Fogg complete his journey back to England where Fix can arrest him.
As the gang continues their race through more adventures, it comes to a screeching halt when they reach Britain where Fix arrests Fogg. Although Fix later lets Fogg out of jail upon realizing he made a mistake, they are apparently too late as they arrive in London.
However, Aouda inadvertently saves the day, both in love with Fogg and feeling guilty that she may have cost him his bet when she proposes to the now ruined Phileas and he joyously accepts. Passepartout is sent to get a vicar to arrange the wedding, only to learn that the gang forgot they gained a day due to traveling east and actually arrived early. With only moments left to the deadline, Fogg and company race to the Club and make it just in time.
The book has numerous adaptations, first on stage and then on film and TV. See below.
- A major 1956 film starring David Niven, Cantinflas and Shirley MacLaine which includes the travelers taking a balloon ride part of the way, a travel option which the original Fogg dismissed as impractical. This version won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1956.
- The 1963 film The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, in which Fogg’s grandson attempts to repeat his grandfather’s trip around the world (without spending any money, otherwise speedy modern travel would make it too easy to replicate the feat) and the Three Stooges are his servants who accompany him.
- A 1972 animated version in which Fogg’s bet is motivated more out of love (for Lord Maze’s niece Belinda) than money; notable as the first Australian cartoon to be networked in the US.
- A 1976 anime film, Puss ‘n Boots: Around the World in 80 Days, which stars Toei Animations mascot, Pero.
- A famous 1981 animated Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation, Around the World with Willy Fog.
- Around the World in 80 Days (Burbank Animation), an Animated Adaptation from Burbank Films Australia, which is also an Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation, albeit a compressed one.
- A 1989 TV mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan, and Eric Idle, which critics complained went at far too leisurely a pace for a story about a race against time.
- A famous 1989 TV travel documentary starring Michael Palin where he takes the challenge to travel around the world without using aircraft, following Fogg’s route as closely as possible. It turned Palin’s career toward starring in a whole slew of travel series.
- A Comic Relief series featured a celebrity relay version of this trip.
- House of Mouse released a Compressed Adaptation, casting Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie as Phileas Fogg, Passportout, and Auoda respectively. The basic story outline remains pretty much the same, but changes Fogg from an incredibly wealthy English gentleman to the caretaker of a financially struggling orphanage, and rather than as a wager, he goes on the journey as a test of punctuality in order to prove he’s worthy of inhering his uncle’s fortune to save his orphanage from foreclosure. Also, the robbery of the bank of England subplot is omitted.
- A 2004 film starring Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan, mostly working on Rule of Funny and (being a Chan film) slapstick martial arts. It is full of cameos by historical figures.
- A 2008 game which belongs in the Match-Three Game genre, where you have to drop all pieces of an item to the bottom before you run out of time for the day, but it’s otherwise faithful to the original.
- An interactive fiction game by Inkle called 80 Days, released on iOS, Android, and PC that follows the same characters in a steampunk world complete with submarine trains, mechanical soldiers and a guild of Artificers. The player takes the role of Passepartout and allows him free reign to take nearly any route possible to complete the journey, even possibly traveling over the North Pole.
- Pioneering woman journalist Nellie Bly made the trip in Real Life, traveling east from New York, stopping in France to interview Jules Verne. She made it with eight days to spare after Joseph Pulitzer sent a private train to California to pick her up. Her memoir Around the World in Seventy-Two Days was published in 1890.
- The AlternateHistory.com timeline Look to the West has the Great World Race, a race between two couples (one American, one Meridian) to circumnavigate the globe in 90 days (longer because in this timeline India lacks a transcontinental railway). It has almost the same outcome as Verne’s story, except the racers insist that the challenge was how long it took, not what day they arrived, and therefore they failed. Most people, however, disagree.
- An eight-part TV series starring David Tennant.
The book Around the World in Eighty Days displays these tropes:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Phileas Fogg bets half his fortune that he can travel around the world in eighty days and takes the other half with him in cash to cover expenses during the trip. If he wins the bet, he’ll have at least as much money as he started with; if he loses, he runs the risk of ending up broke.
- Adventure: A grand race around the world with many death-defying exploits along the way.
- The Bet: Circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days. Keep in mind that the book is set during the nineteenth century, when travel by rail was in its infancy and modern commercial aircraft hadn’t even been invented yet.
- Big Bad: While Inspector Fix’s intentions are noble, believing that Fogg is a bank robber on the run, he is still the main source of conflict in the story, pursuing our heroes on their round the world journey and attempting to sabatoge them in any way possible.
- The Big Guy: Passepartout, one of whose odd jobs was a fireman. Keep in mind the story is set in an age when firemen needed to pull the burning houses apart by hand, and thus invariably were recruited from men built like brick outhouses. Passepartout’s immense physical strength (and agility) is mentioned several times in the book: when he is forced to join a Japanese circus run by an American when he is temporarily stranded in Yokohama without any money, during the Indian attack on the train in United States, and when Fogg is forced to buy the steamship he’s using to cross the Atlantic back to England and then burn all the wooden parts to keep it moving.
- “Burly Detective” Syndrome: Aouda is a young beautiful Indian woman, who is rescued from a suttee by Mr Fogg and his companions. She travels with them because she’s in danger of being forced into the ceremony again. The narrator later refers to her as “the young woman” a lot.
- But Not Too Black: Verne makes his mixed marriage easier to swallow for 19th century readers by describing Aouda as having “skin as white as a European’s” and expressing herself “in perfect English”. Strictly speaking, she is not an Indian but Parsi, of Iranian origin.
- Can’t Get Away with Nuthin’: The one incident of Passepartout wandering into a temple with his shoes on, invoked by Inspector Fix to try and delay the party.
- Clock Discrepancy: At first it looks like Phileas Fogg has lost the bet by returning to London minutes after the deadline. The next day, though, Passepartout learns that the date is one day earlier than he thought, giving Fogg just enough time to win the bet. (The party had circled the world by going east and thus gained one day.)
- Clock King: Phileas Fogg until the end, when he breaks his usual habits to win his bet. Phileas Fogg is the Unbuilt Trope for the Clock King: published at 1872, is the Trope Maker, but also explores all the ramifications about that trope: Being a Mysterious Stranger, the readers never know any of his Back Story, and only in the very last chapters the reader realizes that Foggs extreme reserve was not an Evil Brit case, but only a severe case of British Stuffiness. Unlike all his imitators, Fogg is very good at Xanatos Speed Chess and the Indy Ploy, because thats the only way he can win The Bet. Foggs plan didnt work, but it didnt work in his favor: the Universe rewards him by granting him almost an extra day. And the one obsessed with his clock was not him, but his employee, Jean Passepartout.
- Cloudcuckooland: From the perspective of the Very British Fogg, America is a nation full of crazy people. A riot breaks out when they arrive in San Francisco (and Fogg gains a Sitcom Archnemesis) over the election of a local Justice of the Peace. And when their eastbound train is stopped by floodwaters rending a bridge unsafe, the engineer elects to just have the train jump the river.
- Cooperation Gambit: The valet and the police inspector come to an agreement to help each other as long as Fogg is out of British territory – the inspector wants to arrest Fogg for a bank robbery, the valet is trying to help his boss finish his world trip.
“Friends, no, allies, yes, but at the slightest sign of treachery I’ll wring your neck.”
- Cosmic Plaything: Passepartout, whom Verne seems to delight in embarrassing by putting him in seemingly out-of-nowhere situations.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: Phileas Fogg is wrongly pursued around the globe by Detective Fix because, in addition to the suspicious circumstances surrounding his sudden departure, he answers to the description of the gentleman who robbed the Bank of England.
- Damsel in Distress: Aouda in her debut in the book. However after her rescue, Aouda more than pulls her own weight in the story. For examples, when their train is attacked by Indians, Aouda immediately gets a gun and starts shooting along with her companions and of course, she saves Fogg’s future at the climax of the story.
- Darkest Hour: Fogg is despondent about losing his bet because he missed his train — but it turns out he forgot to account for the fact that he gained a whole extra day during his travels, which allows him to win the bet in the end.
- Dub Name Change: Early English translations sometimes changed Fogg’s first name to Phineas.
- Emergency Cargo Dump: Phileas Fogg and the ship he has commandeered are racing across the Atlantic to Liverpool. Unfortunately, the coal on the ship runs out. So Fogg has the crew rip out just about everything on the vessel made of wood, and throw the wood in the furnace. By the time Fogg reaches England the ship is nothing but an iron hull above the waterline.
- Epic Race: Possibly the Trope Codifier.
- Foreshadowing: Multiple references to Passepartout’s watch falling further behind as they travel east, complete with an explanation in Chapter 11 regarding how the days are shorter when one travels eastbound.
- Funny Foreigner: Passepartout plays this role more than once. Vernes is playing with the trope since, as a Frenchman, Passepartout is not a foreigner from the author’s perspective. This trope is deconstructed when the American circus master in Japan offers Passepartout job as a clown on his troupe, “In France, they hire foreign jesters. Abroad, they hire French buffoons.”
- Gentleman Thief: Phileas Fogg’s Criminal Doppelgänger who robbed from the Bank of England. Fix thinks Fogg is this through most of the book.
- Going to See the Elephant: Literally inverted. At one point, Fogg goes to see an actual elephant, but only to hurry up and get past a gap in the train routes.
- Heroic BSoD: A relatively minor example is Passepartouts reaction at Foggs announcement to make the titular journey.
- Holy Ground: Passepartout gets in trouble for wearing shoes into a Hindu temple.
- Idiot Ball: Passepartout does not tell his master about Fix or the fact that Fogg is suspected of bank robbery because…uh… However: he barely knows anything about Fogg, since he basically was hired the day before the the trip around the world, so there is enough reasonable doubt in his mind Fix might actually be right, hence the delay.
- In Which a Trope Is Described: Verne’s chapter titles.
- Injun Country: A native tribe attacks the train that Fogg and company are riding across the United States.
- Inspector Javert: Inspector Fix, who accompanies Fogg all around the world, trying desperately to arrest him. At least partially justified, as Fix will receive a share of whatever money is recovered from the thief as a reward.
- Irony: For Passepartout, who grew tired of his fickle previous masters, a big reason to work as Phileas Foggs servant is that the gentleman isnt one to travel or even sleep anywhere but home. Guess what? The plot kicks in.
- It’s the Journey That Counts: Fogg spends 19,000 pounds to win 20,000 pounds, not much of a profit given everything he went through. But in the end Fogg considers the experience to be worth it.
- Leaving Audience: Happens to the lecturer on Mormonism. Ultimately Passepartout is the only one left listening.
- Meaningful Name:
- Passepartout’s name literally means “goes everywhere” in French and has been used as a slang term for a skeleton key (capable of opening any lock). Furthermore, the name sounds a mighty lot like “Passport”, which is inseparable from the modern traveller. He admits himself the name is fitting, as he went through several jobs in his past.
- Phileas Fogg’s background is mysterious and obscure, or foggy.
- Inspector Fix is fixated on the belief that Fogg is the robber (an idée fixe, fixed idea).
- Colonel Proctor, a character from the Eagleland of the boorish category. Given what proctology is (study of rectal diseases and infections), Verne is basically saying that the character is an ass.
- The Millstone:
- Aouda fears that her presence with the travelers cost Fogg his bet by delaying him. Fogg firmly denies she was any problem and any concerns she may still have are dispelled by the fact that she is then instrumental instead in saving the day.
- Passepartout at times as well. Several large delays were caused by him, even if mostly indirectly — like being lured into an opium den in Hong Kong by Fix, or being kidnapped by Sioux in America. Blundering into a Hindu temple in Bombay and being dragged to court for this was totally his own doing, though.
- The Mutiny: When the captain of the Henrietta refuses to alter his course and take Fogg to Liverpool instead of going to Bordeaux, Fogg incites a mutiny, essentially paying the crew to overthrow the captain and put him in charge.
- Mysterious Past: Nothing about Fogg’s Back Story is explained in the book: he’s simply a wealthy gentleman living off the rent on his capital, doing nothing except reading papers and playing cards at his club. However during his journey we witness firsthand that he’s able to handle a gun, to navigate a boat and a ship, knows a lot about engineering, etc. How We Got Here, though, remains a mystery even in the finale.
- Not So Stoic: Fogg only loses his cool once in the entire story, when Fix comes up to apologise to him for his Wrongfully Accused business, and sets him free. Phileas Fogg, quintessential Gentleman Adventurer and completely in control of his emotions and passions throughout his voyage, decks Fix so hard the inspector collapses like a sack of potatoes. Though Fogg does forgive Fix after that.
- Opium Den: Passepartout wanders into one of them in Hong Kong, at Fix’s instigation, and in a drug-fueled stupor forgets to tell Fogg about their ship’s schedule change, ending up in Yokohama alone, until Fogg gets there on a different ship.
- Plot Hole: OK, so the International Date Line didn’t exist, so Fogg might not have noticed that he was gaining a few minutes every day if he was counting off days as he went. But he should have noticed the calendar date as he transited the United States, studying train tables and ship schedules. In particular, even if Fogg never so much as looked at a newspaper in the United States, he should not have missed his transatlantic steamer — unless for some unexplained reason it left a whole day earlier than scheduled.
- Quintessential British Gentleman: Phileas Fogg. He’s very proper and extremely stiff, and takes his routine seriously. He’s also described as a very handsome man. One of his travelling companion thinks his scheme nonsensical and not what a proper gentleman should devote his time to, but he wins him over when he’s determined to help Aouda.
- Race Against the Clock: One of the most triumphant examples of this trope. Travel around the world in eighty days. It was extremely exciting for the writer who said he was studying ships’ schedules as if it had been the most adventurous and exciting reading ever.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Phileas Fogg (Blue) is practically an automaton. Passepartout (Red) is a much more excitable fellow.
- Rescue Romance: Phileas Fogg rescues Aouda from death by suttee. Fogg sacrificed for her valuable travel time to rescue her from certain death and then invited her along on his trip home. Aouda falls in love with Fogg, offers to marry him in part to help him live through his difficult future. Fogg who seems rather distant and cold admits he loves her as well. And their planned marriage saves the day and Fogg ends up winning the bet.
- Right on the Tick: Fogg has to be back at the club by 8:45 pm on the 80th day in order to win the bet. Not one second later.
- Running Gag: Passepartout realizes he left a gas lamp on in Fogg’s apartment as they’re leaving London. Throughout the whole trip, Fogg occasionally reminds him of the bill he’s racking up. Another gag is Passepartout’s insistence that his watch is right and the rest of the world is wrong.
- The Savage Indian: A band of Sioux waylay Fogg’s train.
- Schedule Fanatic: Phileas Fogg until the end, where he misses a key detail and decides to heck with schedule fanaticism.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: How Fogg solves most of his travel difficulties. His luggage comprises one very oversized carpetbag stuffed with cash. Whenever a problem occurs, he buys the solution. In fact, Fogg bets half his fortune (20,000 pounds) and takes the other half with him. So, as Verne himself notes in a chapter heading, he’s just about even afterwards. Note that 40,000 quid at the time is equivalent to roughly US$13 million as of now, on a gold price alone. The purchase power parity would yield even higher amount. Spending 6 megabucks in just 80 days would smooth the things up quite a bit. Even though he stands to make an incredible amount of money or lose everything, it’s not about the money. It’s about the adventure, and Fogg’s honour: for at the outset, he notes that “a gentleman never jokes about a bet”.
- Stiff Upper Lip: Phileas Fogg’s basic personality until Aouda’s heartfelt proposal at his darkest hour finally makes let himself go with love.
- Suicide Watch: Aouda and Passpartout are both worried that Mr Fogg might end it all after he loses the bet and is financially ruined. Passepartout keeps watching him.
From the words which Mr Fogg dropped, she saw that he was meditating some serious project. Knowing that Englishmen governed by a fixed idea sometimes resort to the desperate expedient of suicide, Passepartout kept a narrow watch upon his master, though he carefully concealed the appearance of so doing.
- Super OCD: Phileas Fogg to the extreme. He fired a previous servant because of a very slight variation in the temperature of his shaving water. He stops having this in the ending. Fogg’s Mysterious Past and narration hinting that his super-ordered lifestyle stems from his chaotic early life may suggest that it’s actually a form of PTSD.
- Suspect Is Hatless: Whatever description Fix was given about the robber, it’s made obvious that it was not detailed enough, considering that he spent seventy-eight days chasing the wrong guy and in the meanwhile the rest of the London Police easily found the real thief.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: Fogg returns to London believing himself to be a ruined man, having spent half his fortune on the voyage and believing himself to have lost the other half in the bet. Aouda still loves him, however, and asks to get married immediately. Passepartout goes out to make the arrangements, and while doing so he discovers that Fogg’s calculations are off by a day…
- Swiss Cheese Security: The Bank of England takes it Up to Eleven. Basically, they dont want to show any doubt in the customers trustworthiness, so they have no security whatsoever. Gold, silver and banknotes are laying out in the open, with no guards and not even the cashier keeping an eye on the stuff. Which makes the theft of fifty five thousand pounds more understandable.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Fix to a degree. He might be considered the bridge between Inspector Javert and this, being comical like a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist is, but also unethical like an Inspector Javert. Much more sympathetic in the miniseries, where he is played by Peter Ustinov.
- They Called Me Mad!: Soon after Phileas Fogg leaves London, his journey becomes heavily debated in the UK, with the majority of people declaring him an idiot and a maniac.
- Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Col. Stamp W. Proctor who forced Phileas Fogg to duel. Fogg didn’t want to do anything with him at first due to wanting to keep his timetable, but the American man would have none of it.
- Wealthy Philanthropist: Phileas Fogg is a very rich English gentleman of the Idle Rich variety because he has no job and doesn’t seem to do much except frequenting the Reform Club, reading papers and playing whist. The narrator says that whenever he knew that money was needed for a noble, useful, or benevolent purpose, he supplied it quietly and sometimes anonymously. He also gives money to a beggar-woman with a child who asks for alms when he and Passepartout leave London.
- World Tour: The Trope Codifier. Phileas Fogg must travel round the world and along the way, he visits several important cities but he’s actually absolutely uninterested in those mesmerising, unique places. His servant Passepartout is the one who admires the world’s many wonders. The plan is to go from London to Suez via Paris, Mont Cenis and Brindisi, then to Bombay, Calcutta, Hong Kong, and Yokohama; from Yokohama to San Francisco and then to New York and from New York back to London. It must be accomplished in 80 days and the plan is to travel by rail or streamers. They also use an elephant, a small pilot-boat and a sledge with sails.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Plenty of mathematical errors were made by Verne. For example, in the first chapter, Phileas asks for the time to Passepartout, who responds with 11:22. Phileas claims hes four minutes behind, and almost immediately after that says its 11:29 at the moment. Thats seven minutes. And later in the story, the apparent difference between 11:40 a.m. and 8:45 p.m. is nine hours and fifteen minutes (its supposed to be five minutes).