VERNE, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days. Trans. Geo[rge] M. Towle. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1873.
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. pp. 315. Spine damaged; hinges very loose (as expected). Tissue between frontispiece and title page. Interior fairly clean with some foxing throughout.
Jules Verne is not the father of science fiction, as he’s often described. The science Verne puts forward in his often fantastic-seeming adventure novels can be recreated in lab conditions and rather than proposing science fiction, he was experimenting with scientific fact and hypotheses in the 19th century.
Around the World in Eighty Days, true to its title, tells of the adventures of Phileas Fogg and his valet, Passepartout, as they attempt the journey in order to win a bet of £20,000. Incidentally, it’s one of Verne’s only works to feature any sort of romance— as Fogg has rescued Aouda in India and she falls in love with him over the course of their voyage.
The Breton-born author was fascinated by many diverse things: geography and travel, Scotland, the sea, and stage-theatre. Around the World in 80 Days represents a marriage of at least two of these loves. With the advent of the transcontinental railroad in America, the Suez Canal, and the linking of the Indian railways, Verne was able to propose a plane-train-automobile-style circumnavigation of the world with ensuing adventures and the occasional social commentary (see Chapter 27: In which Passepartout undergoes, at 20 miles an hour, a course in Mormon history). Verne’s works inspired real-life attempts to go around the world in 80 days, including the 72-day success of American journalist Nellie Bly in 1889 (and the competitive efforts of Elizabeth Biland).
Some notes on the condition of the American first edition:
Noted by Andrew Nash, the 1873 date on the title page is extremely rare. The American edition was bound from English sheets of Gilbert and Rivington, Printers, St. John’s Square, London (see p. 315).
Arthur Edwards, first President of the North American Jules Verne Society and important collector of Verniana writes in Firsts: The Book Collectors’ Magazine (July/Aug. 19960: “There is a fully illustrated Osgood octavo edition, published at the end of November, 1873, taken from the British sheets. This is titled Around the World in Eighty Days, and is very scarce. It seems to have had production problems that caused the spine to crack and chip when the book was read; consequently no 1873 copies have been seen in better than good condition” (42).