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Jules Verne

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Jules Verne

y studies to come.[91]

In the 1960s and 1970s, thanks in large part to a sustained wave of serious literary study from well-known French scholars and writers, Verne's reputation skyrocketed in France.[92][93] Roland Barthes' seminal essay "Nautilus et Bateau Ivre" ("The Nautilus and the Drunken Boat") was influential in its exegesis of the Voyages Extraordinares as a purely literary text, while book-length studies by such figures as Marcel Moré and Jean Chesneaux considered Verne from a multitude of thematic vantage points.[94]

French literary journals devoted entire issues to Verne and his work, with essays by such imposing literary figures as Marcel Brion, Pierre Versins, Michel Foucault, René Barjavel, Marcel Lecomte, Francis Lacassin, and Michel Serres; meanwhile, Verne's entire published opus returned to print, with unabridged and illustrated editions of his works printed by Livre de Poche and Éditions Rencontre.[95] The wave reached its climax in Verne's sesquicentennial year 1978, when he was made the subject of an academic colloquium at the Centre culturel international de Cerisy-la-Salle, and Journey to the Center of the Earth was accepted for the French university system's Agrégation reading list. Since these events, Verne has been consistently recognized in Europe as a legitimate member of the French literary canon, with academic studies and new publications steadily continuing.[96]

Verne's reputation in English-speaking countries has been considerably slower in changing. Throughout the 20th century, most Anglophone scholars dismissed Verne as a genre writer for children and a naïve proponent of science and technology (despite strong evidence to the contrary on both counts), thus finding him more interesting as a technological "prophet" or as a subject of comparison to English-language writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and H. G. Wells than as a topic of literary study in his own right. This narrow view of Verne has undoubtedly been influenced by the poor-quality English translations and very loosely adapted Hollywood film versions through which most American and British readers have discovered Verne.[2][4] However, since the mid-1980s a considerable number of serious English-language studies and translations have appeared, suggesting that a rehabilitation of Verne's Anglophone reputation may currently be underway.[97][98]

English translations

Translation of Verne into English began in 1852, when Verne's short story A Voyage in a Balloon was published in the American journal Sartain's Union Magazine of Literature and Art in a translation by Anne T. Wilbur.[99] Translation of his novels began in 1869 with William Lackland's translation of Five Weeks in a Balloon,[100] and continued steadily through Verne's lifetime, with publishers and hired translators often working in great haste to rush his most lucrative titles into English-language print.[101] Unlike Hetzel, who targeted all ages with his publishing strategies for the Voyages Extraordinaires, the British and American publishers of Verne chose to market his books almost exclusively to young audiences; this business move, with its implication that Verne could be treated purely as a children's author, had a long-lasting effect on Verne's reputation in English-speaking countries.[97][102]

An early edition of the notorious Griffith & Farran adaptation of Journey to the Center of the Earth

These contemporaneous English-language translations have been widely criticized for their extensive textual omissions, errors, and alterations, and are not considered adequate representations of Verne's actual novels.[101][103][104] The writer Adam Roberts, in an essay for The Guardian titled "Jules Verne deserves a better translation service", commented: "I'd always liked reading Jules Verne and I've read most of his novels; but it wasn't until recently that I really understood I hadn't been reading Jules Verne at all.... It's a bizarre situation for a world-famous writer to be in. Indeed, I can't think of a major writer who has been so poorly served by translation."[103]

Similarly, the novelist Michael Crichton observed:

Verne's prose is lean and fast-moving in a peculiarly modern way … [but] Verne has been particularly ill-served by his English translators. At best they have provided us with clunky, choppy, tone-deaf prose. At worst—as in the notorious 1872 "translation" [of Journey to the Center of the Earth] published by Griffith & Farran—they have blithely altered the text, giving Verne's characters new names, and adding whole pages of their own invention, thus effectively obliterating the meaning and tone of Verne's original.[104]

Since 1965, a considerable number of more accurate English translations of Verne have appeared. However, the highly criticized older translations continue to be republished, due to their public domain status and in many cases their easy availability in online sources.[97]

Relationship with science fiction

The relationship between Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires and the literary genre science fiction is a complex one. Verne, like H. G. Wells, is frequently cited as one of the founders of the genre, and his profound influence on its development is indisputable; however, many earlier writers, such as Lucian of Samosata and Mary Shelley, have also been cited as creators of science fiction, an ambiguity necessary given the nebulous definition and history of the genre.[5]

A primary issue at the heart of the dispute is the question of whether Verne's works count as science fiction to begin with. Verne himself argued repeatedly in interviews that his novels were not meant to be read as scientific, saying "I do not in any way pose as a scientist"[105] and "I have invented nothing."[106] His own goal was rather to "depict the earth [and] at the same time to realize a very high ideal of beauty of style",[72] as he pointed out in an example:

I wrote Five Weeks in a Balloon, not as a story about ballooning, but as a story about Africa. I always was greatly interested in geography and travel, and I wanted to give a romantic description of Africa. Now, there was no means of taking my travellers through Africa otherwise than in a balloon, and that is why a balloon is introduced.… I may say that at the time I wrote the novel, as now, I had no faith in the possibility of ever steering balloons…[72]

Closely related to Verne's science-fiction reputation is the often-repeated claim that he is a "prophet" of scientific progress, and that many of his novels involve elements of technology that were fantastic for his day but later became commonplace.[107] These claims have a long history, especially in America, but the modern scholarly consensus is that such claims of prophecy are heavily exaggerated.[108] As with science fiction, Verne himself flatly denied classification as a futuristic prophet, saying that any connection between scientific developments and his work were "mere coincidence" and attributing his indisputable scientific accuracy to his extensive research: "even before I began writing stories, I always took numerous notes out of every book, newspaper, magazine, or scientific report that I came across."[105]


Monument to Jules Verne in Redondela

Scientific influence

The pioneering submarine designer Simon Lake credited his inspiration to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,[109] and his autobiography begins "Jules Verne was in a sense the director-general of my life."[110] William Beebe, Sir Ernest Shackleton, and Robert Ballard found similar early inspiration in the novel, and Jacques Cousteau called it his "shipboard bible".[111]

The aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont named Verne as his favorite author and the inspiration for his own elaborate flying machines.[112] Igor Sikorsky often quoted Verne and cited his Robur the Conqueror as the inspiration for his invention of the first successful helicopter.[113]

The rocketry innovators Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, and Hermann Oberth are all known to have taken their inspiration from Verne's From the Earth to the Moon.[114] Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, the astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission, were similarly inspired, with Borman commenting "In a very real sense, Jules Verne is one of the pioneers of the space age".[115]

Polar explorer Richard E. Byrd, after a flight to the South Pole, paid tribute to Verne's polar novels The Adventures of Captain Hatteras and An Antarctic Mystery by saying "It was Jules Verne who launched me on this trip."[110]

Edwin Hubble, the American astronomer, was in his youth fascinated by Verne's novels, especially From the Earth to the Moon and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.[116] Their influence was so strong that, like Verne, Hubble gave up the career path in law that his father intended for him, setting off instead to pursue his passion for science.[117]

The preeminent speleologist Édouard-Alfred Martel noted in several of his scientific reports that his interest in caves was sparked by Verne's Mathias Sandorf.[118] Another influential speleologist, Norbert Casteret, traced his love of "caverns, abysses and underground rivers" to his avid youthful reading of Journey to the Center of the Earth,[119] calling it "a marvelous book, which impressed and fascinated me more than any other", and adding "I sometimes re-read it still, each time finding anew the joys and enthusiasm of my childhood".[120]

The French general Hubert Lyautey took much inspiration from the explorations in Verne's novels. When one of his more ambitious foreign projects was met with the reply "All this, sir, it's like doing a Jules Verne", Lyautey famously responded: "Yes, sir, it's like doing a Jules Verne, because for twenty years, the people who move forward have been doing a Jules Verne."[121]

Other scientific figures known to have been influenced by Verne include Fridtjof Nansen, Wernher von Braun, Guglielmo Marconi, and Yuri Gagarin.[4]

Literary influence

Cover of L'Algerie Magazine, June 15, 1884. The text reads "M. Jules Verne: going to the best sources for authentic information on the underwater world."

Arthur Rimbaud was inspired to write his well-known poem "Le Bateau ivre" after reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which he extensively alludes to within the poem;[122][123] The Adventures of Captain Hatteras was likely an additional source of inspiration.[124]

In the 1920s, many members of the Surrealist movement named Verne as one of their greatest and most imaginative precursors.[1] Eugène Ionesco said that all of his works, whether directly or indirectly, were written in celebration of Captain Hatteras's conquest of the North Pole.[125] Another surrealist, the Greek poet Andreas Embirikos, paid tribute to Verne in his nine-volume magnum opus The Great Eastern (Megas Anatolikos, 1990), which borrows from Verne's A Floating City and includes Verne himself among its characters.[126]

Raymond Roussel was profoundly influenced both thematically and stylistically by Verne,[127][128] whom he called a "man of incommensurate genius" and an "incomparable master", adding that in many passages Verne "raised himself to the highest peaks that can be attained by human language."[128]

Jean Cocteau cited both Around the World in Eighty Days and Verne's own 1874 dramatization of it as major childhood influences, calling the novel a "masterpiece" and adding "Play and book alike not only thrilled our young imagination but, better than atlases and maps, whetted our appetite for adventure in far lands. … Never for me will any real ocean have the glamour of that sheet of green canvas, heaved on the backs of the Châtelet stage-hands crawling like caterpillars beneath it, while Phileas and Passepartout from the dismantled hull watch the lights of Liverpool twinkling in the distance."[129]

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who discovered the Voyages Extraordinaires as a child and became one of Verne's enthusiastic adult proponents in the first half of the 20th century,[130] used Verne's The Black Indies as inspiration for his own novel Night Flight.[131]

The French experimental writer Life A User's Manual, A Gallery Portrait, and W, or the Memory of Childhood.[123] Perec once commented: "When Jules Verne lists all the names of fish over four pages in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, I feel as though I am reading a poem."[132]

The Swiss traveler and writer Nicolas Bouvier cited Verne as his initiation into geography, and named Mathias Sandorf and Phileas Fogg among his childhood heroes.[123] The British traveler and filmmaker Graham Hughes has similarly identified Fogg as one of his inspirations.[133]

According to scholarly hypothesis, J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by Verne during the writing of his Legendarium narratives. The Tolkien scholar Mark T. Hooker and the philosopher Roderick Long have both written that the parallels between The Hobbit and Journey to the Center of the Earth are likely too extensive to have arisen simply by chance (both include a hidden runic message and a celestial alignment directing the adventurers to their goal, among other parallels),[134][135] and the Verne scholar William Butcher has noted similar narrative parallels between The Lord of the Rings and The Adventures of Captain Hatteras.[136]

In an introduction to a biography of Verne, Arthur C. Clarke wrote: "Jules Verne had already been dead for a dozen years when I was born. Yet I feel strongly connected to him, and his works of science fiction had a major influence on my own career. He is among the top five people I wish I could have met in person."[137]

The English novelist Margaret Drabble was deeply influenced by Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea as a child and remains a fervent admirer of Verne. She comments: "I used to be somewhat ashamed of my love of Verne, but have recently discovered that he is the darling of the French avant-garde, who take him far more seriously than we Anglo-Saxons do. So I'm in good company."[138]

Ray Bradbury counted Verne as a main influence on his own fiction as well as on literature and science the world over, saying "We are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne."[139]

Other literary figures known to have been influenced by Verne include Paul Claudel, François Mauriac, Blaise Cendrars, Jean-Paul Sartre, Marcel Aymé, René Barjavel, Claude Roy, Michel Butor, and Roland Barthes.[130] Verne is also often cited as a major influence of the science fiction genre steampunk, though Verne's works themselves are not of the genre.[140]

Monuments and tributes

Monument to Verne at the Jardin des Plantes in Nantes

Because Verne was a longtime resident of Amiens, many places there are named after him, such as the Cirque Jules Verne. Amiens is the place where Verne is buried, and the house where he lived is now a museum. There is also the Jules Verne Museum in Nantes.

A restaurant in the Eiffel Tower in Paris is named "Le Jules Verne".[141] In June 1989, the Jules Verne Food Court opened at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands of England; however, it had closed by the mid-1990s due to disappointing trade.[142]

In 1961, a large impact crater on the far side of the Moon was named Jules Verne in tribute to the writer.[143]

In 1970, the University of Picardie Jules Verne was founded in Amiens. A public francophone secondary school in Vancouver was founded and named École secondaire Jules-Verne in 2007.

The express train running between Nantes and Paris from 1980 to 1989 was named Jules Verne in the writer's honor. Two French ships were also named after him, and the international prize for around the world sailing records is named the Jules Verne Trophy.

In 1999, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted Verne in its fourth annual class of two deceased and two living persons, citing him for having "helped shape and found modern science fiction." Verne is one of three inductees who contributed prior to 1900 (Wells, Verne and Mary Shelley preceded all other inductees by about one, two, and three generations) and one of two from outside the Anglophone world (the French artist Jean Giraud was inducted in 2011).[144][2]

On 9 March 2008, the European Space Agency launched an unmanned resupply spacecraft named the Jules Verne ATV on a mission to bring supplies and cargo to the International Space Station. In homage to Verne's astronomical writings, the craft carried two handwritten manuscript pages from Verne's files as well as a Hetzel double edition of From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon published in Verne's lifetime.[145]



  1. ^ Butcher 1983 cites Verne as "the most translated writer in the world over the last two decades" and says much the same of current annual languages of translation, citing distinct 1978 sources.
  2. ^ a b Science fiction magazine editors Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell were the inaugural deceased members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, followed annually by fiction writers H. G. Wells and Isaac Asimov, C. L. Moore and Robert Heinlein, Abraham Merritt and Verne.[144]
  3. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 1: "On his mother's side, Verne is known to be descended from one 'N. Allott, Scotsman', who came to France to serve in the Scots Guards of Louis XI and rose to earn a title (in 1462). He built his castle, complete with dovecote or fuye (a privilege in the royal gift), near Loudun in Anjou and took the noble name of Allotte de la Fuye."


  1. ^ a b Angenot 1973, p. 34
  2. ^ a b Evans 2000, p. 33
  3. ^ UNESCO 2013
  4. ^ a b c Butcher, William (1983), Jules Verne, Prophet or Poet?, Paris: Publications de l’INSEE, retrieved 26 March 2013 
  5. ^ a b Roberts, Adam (2000), Science Fiction, London: Routledge, p. 48 
  6. ^ Butcher 2006, pp. 5–6
  7. ^ a b c Butcher 2007
  8. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 3
  9. ^ Allotte de la Fuÿe 1956, p. 20
  10. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, p. 9
  11. ^ a b Terres d'écrivains 2003.
  12. ^ a b Verne 1890, §2
  13. ^ Compère 1997b, p. 35
  14. ^ Allotte de la Fuÿe 1956, p. 26
  15. ^ Pérez, de Vries & Margot 2008, C9
  16. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, p. 17
  17. ^ Compère 1997a, p. 20
  18. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 19
  19. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 10
  20. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, p. 14
  21. ^ Martin 1973
  22. ^ Dumas 1988, letter of 6 May 1853: "Je serai aussi aimable que le comporte mon caractère biscornu, avec les nommés Dezaunay ; enfin sa femme va donc entrevoir Paris ; il paraît qu'elle est un peu moins enceinte que d'habitude, puisqu'elle se permet cette excursion antigestative."
  23. ^ Compère 1997c, p. 41
  24. ^ Lottmann 1996, pp. 14–15
  25. ^ Martin 1974
  26. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, p. 24
  27. ^ Dumas 1988, letter of 30 July 1848: "La mariée était vêtue de blanc, gracieux symbole de l'âme candide de son fiancé ; le marié était vêtu de noir, allusion mystique à la couleur de l'âme de sa fiancée !"
  28. ^ Chelebourg 1986
  29. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 16
  30. ^ Verne 2000
  31. ^ Compère 1997c, p. 42
  32. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 12
  33. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 17
  34. ^ a b Sherard 1894, §3
  35. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 32
  36. ^ a b c Lottmann 1996, p. 25
  37. ^ Dumas 1988, p. 372, letter of February 1855: "Je suis bien Allotte sous le rapport de l'estomac."
  38. ^ Dumas 2000, p. 51: "La paralysie faciale de Jules Verne n'est pas psychosomatique, mais due seulement à une inflammation de l'oreille moyenne dont l'œdème comprime le nerf facial correspondant. Le médiocre chauffage du logement de l'étudiant entraîne la fréquence de ses refroidissements. L'explication de cette infirmité reste ignorée de l'écrivain ; il vit dans la permanente inquiétude d'un dérèglement nerveux, aboutissant à la folie."
  39. ^ Dumas 1988, p. 273, letter of 12 March 1849: "Tu dois pourtant savoir, mon cher papa, quel cas je fais de l'art militaire, ces domestiques en grande ou petite livrée … Il faut parfois avoir fait abnégation complète de la dignité d'homme pour remplir de pareilles fonctions." Translation from Lottmann 1996, p. 29.
  40. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 29
  41. ^ a b Evans 1988, p. 17
  42. ^ Dekiss & Dehs 1999, p. 29
  43. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, p. 37
  44. ^ a b Evans 1988, p. 18
  45. ^ Lottmann 1996, pp. 53, 58
  46. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 27
  47. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 38
  48. ^ Lottmann 1996, pp. 46–47
  49. ^ Dumas 1988, letter of 17 January 1852: "C'est parce que je sais ce que je suis, que je comprends ce que je serai un jour." Translation from Lottmann 1996, p. 47.
  50. ^ Dekiss & Dehs 1999, pp. 30–31
  51. ^ Lottmann 1996, pp. 39–40
  52. ^ Margot 2005, p. 151
  53. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 57
  54. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, p. 58
  55. ^ a b c d e Evans 1988, p. 19
  56. ^ Evans 1988, pp. 18–19
  57. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 37
  58. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, pp. 40–41
  59. ^ Lottmann 1996, pp. 66–67
  60. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, pp. 42–43
  61. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 44
  62. ^ a b Lottmann 1996, pp. 76–78
  63. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 79
  64. ^ Lottmann 1996, p. 81; confusion regarding the year resolved with reference to Jules-Verne 1976, p. 54, Butcher 2007, and Pérez, de Vries & Margot 2008, B6
  65. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 54
  66. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, pp. 54–55
  67. ^ Evans 1988, pp. 23–24
  68. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 56
  69. ^ a b Dehs, Margot & Har'El 2007, I
  70. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, pp. 56–57
  71. ^ Evans 1988, pp. 29–30
  72. ^ a b c Sherard 1894, §4
  73. ^ Evans 1988, p. 30
  74. ^ Evans 2001, pp. 98–99
  75. ^ Lottmann 1996, pp. 101–103
  76. ^ Evans 2001, pp. 100–101
  77. ^ Jules-Verne 1976, p. 9: "After about 1870, Verne was less and less subservient to the discipline of the Church: his wife went to Mass without him and his views broadened into a kind of Christian-based deism."
  78. ^ Costello 1978, p. 34: "Verne was to spend his life trying to escape from both, moving as he grew older towards anarchy and a more generalised deism."
  79. ^ Verne 2007, p. 412: "Verne's oeuvre cannot be characterized as Christian — there is never a mention of Christ, and most of his Voyages extraordinaires seem to be built around a rather deist philosophy of 'Aide-toi et le Ciel t'aidera.'" ("Help yourself, and Heaven will help you.")
  80. ^ Oliver 2012, p. 22: "Verne himself is best characterized as a kind of Catholic deist, deeply intrigued by the idea of God but unconvinced that he was at work in the world; and Verne was largely uninterested in the figure of Christ."
  81. ^ "Publications", Société Jules Verne, retrieved 16 October 2012 
  82. ^ Dehs, Margot & Har'El 2007, X
  83. ^ Evans 2000, pp. 11–12
  84. ^ Evans 2000, pp. 12–13
  85. ^ a b Evans 2000, p. 14
  86. ^ Sherard 1894, §1
  87. ^ Sherard 1894, §6
  88. ^ Evans 2000, p. 15
  89. ^ Evans 2000, pp. 22–23
  90. ^ Evans 2000, p. 23
  91. ^ Evans 2000, pp. 24–6
  92. ^ Angenot 1976, p. 46
  93. ^ Evans 2000, p. 29
  94. ^ Angenot 1973, pp. 35–36
  95. ^ Evans 2000, pp. 29–30
  96. ^ Evans 2000, pp. 32–33
  97. ^ a b c Miller, Walter James (2009), "As Verne Smiles", Verniana 1, retrieved 21 March 2013 
  98. ^ Evans 2000, p. 34
  99. ^ Evans 2005b, p. 117
  100. ^ Evans 2005b, p. 105
  101. ^ a b Evans 2005a, p. 80
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  104. ^ a b Crichton, Michael (2001), "Introduction", in Verne, Jules, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, London: Folio Society, pp. vii–xxii, retrieved 15 March 2013 
  105. ^ a b Belloc 1895
  106. ^ Sherard 1903, §5
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  108. ^ Evans 1988, p. 2
  109. ^ Strauss 2012, p. 1
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  141. ^ Le Jules Verne, restaurant at the Eiffel Tower in Paris,, 2008-11-22, retrieved 2011-06-27 
  142. ^ Rhodes, Peter (2006-12-18), Food court on Merry Hill menu, Express & Star, retrieved 2011-06-27 
  143. ^ International Astronomical Union (2010), "Jules Verne", Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature ( 
  144. ^ a b Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. (official website of the Hall of Fame to 2004), 22 February 2008, retrieved 15 May 2013 
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External links

  • Works by Jules Verne at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by Jules Verne at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Zvi Har'El's Jules Verne Collection, including a complete primary bibliography, a collection of academic scholarship, a Verne chronology, and a multilingual virtual library
  • Annotated bibliography with summaries of Verne's works
  • Jules Verne's works with concordances and frequency list
  • A Jules Verne Centennial at the Smithsonian Institution
  • The Jules Verne Collecting Resource with sources, images, and ephemera
  • Maps from the Voyages Extraordinaires
  • The Jules Verne Museum in Nantes
  • The North American Jules Verne Society
  • Centre International Jules Verne
  • Jules Verne biography at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame
  • Jules Verne Collection From the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress

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