Voyages Extraordinaires


French author Jules Verne was born on February 8, 1828. If you love science fiction, you can say merci to the man who popularized the genre with Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days among many, many others.

Jules_VerneVerne was born in the harbor city of Nantes on the Western coast of France. His family vacationed in a summer house on the Loire. Between the two homes, he spent many hours studying the river traffic, which developed his two passions of adventure and travel. Writing fantastic tales often took priority over his studies, from his youth into early adulthood. In fact, when his father discovered that he was writing instead of studying law in Paris, he turned off the money faucet. Verne supported himself as a stockbroker while he continued to write. He got some writing advice from distinguished authors Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo.

jules-verne 2Fortunately, Verne married a woman who was more supportive than his father. Verne continued to write tales of fantasy and adventure and to look for a publisher. Pierre-Jules Hetzel, Hugo’s publisher, took on Verne. Hetzel polished Verne’s stories into tales that would capture the public’s imagination. Hetzel wielded a heavy pen with his revisions, but Verne was so grateful to be published that he acquiesced to all of Hetzel’s “suggestions.” Verne’s most popular works were collectively released as Voyages Extraordinaires (voy-azj ex-tror-din-air), referred to in English as Amazing Voyages. As Verne became financially secure, he bought a boat to have the adventures he dreamed of as a boy.

Cover of "Paris in the Twentieth Century:...

He died of complications of diabetes on March 24, 1905. He’s remembered all over France by streets, squares and schools named after him. The restaurant in the Eiffel Tower also bears his name.

Long after his death, a stash of unpublished manuscripts turned up, including one named Paris in the Twentieth Century that described automobiles, calculators, skyscrapers, high-speed trains, and world-wide communication. These lost novels are being published one-by-one; they’re like little time-capsules from another century. I read Jules Verne’s classics when I was a kid; I’m curious to read these “new” adventures.

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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3 Responses to Voyages Extraordinaires

  1. Cliff Gilbert says:

    I’d love to read Verne’s vision of the 20th Century just to see how close to reality he managed to get.

  2. Pingback: Le temps des utopies ne dure jamais longtemps | One quality, the finest.

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