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Jules Verne


Jules Verne (1828-1905), noted French scientific author wrote Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1869);

"You like the sea, Captain?"

"Yes; I love it! The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the 'Living Infinite,' as one of your poets has said. In fact, Professor, Nature manifests herself in it by her three kingdoms--mineral, vegetable, and animal. The sea is the vast reservoir of Nature. The globe began with sea, so to speak; and who knows if it will not end with it? In it is supreme tranquillity. The sea does not belong to despots. Upon its surface men can still exercise unjust laws, fight, tear one another to pieces, and be carried away with terrestrial horrors. But at thirty feet below its level, their reign ceases, their influence is quenched, and their power disappears. Ah! sir, live--live in the bosom of the waters! There only is independence! There I recognise no masters! There I am free!"--Ch. 10

Through his series of Les Voyages Extraordinaires and the fantastic and detailed illustrations which accompanied them, Verne predicted the use of hydrogen as an energy source (in From the Earth to the Moon) and many future modern conveniences and technological inventions such as skyscrapers, submarines, helicopters, and airplanes. The pioneering ways of travel and exploration which he wrote so much about are now common-place for us, such as exploration of the moon, the north and south poles, and the use of hot air balloons for long-distance voyages. In his time Verne was a true inventor and visionary; the names of his inventions and characters such as Captain Nemo, Phileas Fogg, and the submarine Nautilus have entered, and remain, a part of our popular culture. Verne's works have been translated from the French to numerous languages but unfortunately in the earlier English editions much of his scientific detail is lost; they are often abridged, sometimes censored. Because of this, there is much mis-perception about Verne, and claims of racism and anti-semitism. Scholars continue to study Verne's life and works to bring to light the authentic man and his extraordinary vision of the future.

Jules Gabriel Verne was born on 8 February 1828 in Nantes, Pays de la Loire, France, the first of five children born to Sophie Henriette Allotte de la Fuye (d. 1887) and Pierre Verne (1799-1871), attorney. In the busy maritime port city and summers spent on the Loire River, Verne was exposed to the comings and goings of schooners and ships that sparked his imagination for travel and adventure. After attending boarding school during which he started to write short stories and poetry, Verne settled in Paris to study law, as his father had done. However, upon obtaining his degree in 1850, he was much more interested in theatre, to his father's disappointment. Living a bohemian life, he wrote and collaborated on numerous plays, dramas, and operettas including Blind Man's Bluff (1852), often collaborating with his friend and musician Jean Louis Aristide Hignard (1822-1897).

In 1857 Verne married Honorine de Viane Morel (1830-1910), a widow with two daughters, Suzanne and Valentine, and with whom Jules would have one child, Michel Jean Verne (1861-1925). Michel's early years were troubled and he accumulated much debt, which his father later re-paid. While not working at the Stock Market, Jules and Honorine traveled much in America, France, and the British Isles during which Verne met fellow authors Alexandre Dumas and his son, and Victor Hugo. While his novels had previously been rejected by publishers, after making the acquaintance of editor and publisher Pierre Jules Hetzel (1814-1886) Verne's literary career was launched. In 1863 Five Weeks in a Balloon or, Journeys and Discoveries in Africa by Three Englishmen was published to wide acclaim, the first of his "extraordinary adventures" series. It was soon followed by Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and its sequel All Around the Moon (1870). Many of his novels were first serialised in Hetzel's Magazine d'Éducation et de Récréation

When not living in Amiens, Picardie, France, Verne and his wife spent much time sailing on his ship the Saint-Michel. His own adventures sailing to myriad ports in the British Isles, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the Mediterranean provided much fodder for his short stories and novels. The Adventures of a Special Correspondent (1872) was followed by The Mysterious Island (1875), The Survivors of the Chancellor (1875), Michael Strogoff (1876), and Dick Sand: A Captain at Fifteen (1878). In 1867 he travelled to America

In 1886 Verne's mentally ill nephew Gaston shot him, and thereafter he walked with a limp. In 1888 Verne was elected councillor of Amiens, a position he served faithfully for the next fifteen years. He also continued to travel and write and among his later publications are Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon (1881), Robur the Conqueror (1886), Ticket No. 9672 (1886), Facing the Flag (1896), and Master of the World (1904). After developing diabetes, Jules Verne died on 24 March 1905. He now rests in La Madeleine Cemetery in Amiens, Picardie, France, a massive marble statue of a man emerging from the earth reaching towards the sky adorning his grave. Michel oversaw the publication of numerous post-humous works of his father's including Paris in the Twentieth Century (written in the late 1850's, pub. 1994), The Lighthouse at the End of the World (1905), The Golden Volcano (1906), and The Hunt for the Meteor (1908).

The desire to perform a work which will endure, which will survive him, is the origin of man's superiority over all other living creatures here below. It is this which has established his dominion, and this it is which justifies it, over all the world.
--The Mysterious Island, Ch. 57

Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Forum Discussions on Jules Verne

Recent Forum Posts on Jules Verne

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday, sir!! You wrote great books in your time....

How many Jules Verne books did you read?

How many Jules Verne books did you read and how would you rate them?...

The Adventures of Captain Hatteras

The Adventures of Captain Hatteras is the most underrated Jules Verne novel and is one of my favorite books of all time. It explores human nature's thirst for discoveries, hardships of an extreme polar expedition and importance of social interaction. Characters descriptions are rich and multidimensional. It has much suspense and mystery to keep the reader interested. The end is not one of those forced "everything turned out great" but rather makes us contemplate our own lives. Has anyone else read this novel? If you have, what did you think about it?...

'20,000 leagues under the sea" and its sequel

I wonder whether Jules Verne had planned beforehand to write a sequel, or if he wrote it simply because the book was so successful. I think it is not very likely he HAD planned to write "Mysterious Island" while writing the other. It so spoils all the mystery he leaves forever unsolved in the end of "20,000 leagues under the sea"! I read somewhere that at first he intended Captain Nemo to be a Polish, who fought the Russians; but that his editor thought it more 'political' to change that. However, he does not tell us the Captain is an Indian who hates the English anywhere in "20,000 leagues"; we are told that only in the sequel. So that maybe he did plan to write a sequel after all... What...

The Tribulations of a Chinese Gentleman

aka The Tribulations of a Chinaman. Anyone read it? A Vernian adventure set in China in the late 1800s. Kin-Fo, a "well to do" Chinese man living in Shang-Hai, is accused by his good friend Wang of not having had any discomforts in his life that would make him appreciate true happiness. When Kin-Fo, receives news that his fortune is lost, he arranges for an insurance policy to be taken out on his life that would cover his death, even by suicide; which he is planning on committing. When Kin-Fo can't bring himself to end his own life, he contracts Wang to do it, by even giving him a letter that will exonerate him of the deed. Wang disappears and then Kin-Fo feels much discomfort, especially...

Jules Verne's letters

Does anyone have information about Jules Verne's letters to his brother Paul? It doesn't matter if they are in french or english. Does anyone know of quotes from these letters in out-of-print biographies, articles or any other source?...

The Invisible Man

Didn't Jules Verne write a novel or short story on the "Invisible Man" theme? Story took place in Budapest?...

Jules Verne: Quotes

"Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real." “Travel enables us to enrich our lives with new experiences, to enjoy and to be educated, to learn respect for foreign cultures, to establish friendships, and above all to contribute to international cooperation and peace throughout the world.” "Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth." Journey to the Centre of the Earth Any others?...

The Kip Brothers

Anyone pick this up? Worth the read? This what I got from Amazon. This first English translation of Verne's awkward hybrid of travelogue and coded detective story, originally serialized in 1902, centers on Dutch brothers Karl and Pieter Kip. In the novel's first part, which details nautical journeys around various Australian and New Zealand islands, the English captain Harry Gibson, of the James Cook, rescues the shipwrecked Kips. When mutineers Flig Valt and Vin Mod kill the captain, it's Karl and Pieter who are convicted and who spend the novel's second part trying to escape a horrible Australian penal colony. Descriptions of exotic destinations from Verne's own travel books help c...

Mathias Sandorf

I recently bought an edition of this Verne classic. It was rereleased in early April. Verne himself dubbed it "The Monte Cristo" of his Extraordianry Voyages. Point Pescade has become one of my favourite Vernian characters. Anyone else read it?...

Best character

In your opinion who is Verne's best character...??...

A brilliant author

Wo ho! Really, this Jules Verne board is the most active one on the whole forum - just bubbling over with the energy of myriads of posts. But to be serious. Jules Verne is a brilliant author. He was among the pioneers of sci-fi, and he has such a way of merging reality with unreality that you can almost believe his high-flown stories. The Journey to the Centre of the Earth is possibly my favourite, though Around the World in Eighty Days was also very good. He really grips you with suspense, which I think is vital to any good science fiction story. Still searching for UFO's, Loki...

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