Around the world in 80 days
I heard of this novel many times before but never really bothered to check out the details. Should be some boring, old fashioned novel, I thought. I chanced upon this novel 3 weeks back (a pdf of this novel is lying in my computer for so many years) and lo, I found myself reading the first pages. And that did the trick. I found the novel irresistible and exciting. It is old fashioned but quite delightful. The characters are strong, the descriptions are wonderful and the plot innovative. I guess this is what is called a "classic".
A quick check of the Wikipedia revealed this is indeed a classic novel written by Jules Verne, a French writer. The story is set in 1872 and is about an English man, Phileas Fogg, who accepts a bet in his club to travel around the world in 80 days. He starts the journey immediately with his resourceful French servant Passepartout. The story is all about how he overcomes the many obstacles in his journey and returns back to England to win the bet.
Reading a novel like this is quite informative. Now a days, we can make a trip around the world in hours, but in those days (1872) technology is just picking up and attempting t to cover the world in 80 days is almost like embracing the impossible. India is still under British rule and the novel gives a glimpse of the social situations in those days. US is still savage with its natives and is struggling to make an impact. You learn about many other things and it is a very enriching experience. The English used is heavenly and you get a taste of the language.
What I really liked about the novel is its Hero, Phileas Fogg. This man is an epitome of a steady mind and clear thinking. He has a "mind like water" to use the Zen simile. He is the example of a really cool chap, for "coolness" is not about the outside looks. The way he deals with the many troubles that confront him is awesome. It is quite inspiring to see such a character. It motivates me to imbibe him (atleast partially) in my real life too. In the novel "Godfather", the Godfather also displays this exact characteristic of clear and balanced thinking. I liked that quality of the Godfather and I am very impressed with Phileas Fogg. I think I can even claim to be his fan!
It does not require a genius to guess that this novel was possibly made into a movie. It is popular and has all the action required for a movie. So I was not surprised to find the 1956 English movie with the same name. It won several Academy awards too. I eagerly downloaded the movie and watched it. It is not as awesome as the novel partly because they converted it into a comedy. But it is still entertaining and worth a watch. The performances are very good, I especially liked Passepartout.
Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, our attention span is just reduced to one Tweet or one post. We (or atleast I), rarely read lengthy blog posts, we just pass over them after pressing the "Like" button. After all, there is so much to catch up and we cant be left behind. Every now and then, we slow down a bit and experience something like reading this book. What we derive is "happiness" which is of a different kind than what we are used to. Life suddenly looks quite different and beautiful and for a moment we are tempted to slow down and stay in this state. But, hey I have to check my Facebook notifications and continue my pointless chat, which I call "discussion", with that other chap.