I've read seven Jules Verne books. None have been literary masterpieces, which is probably why one doesn't read them in school. The characters' morals are woefully out-dated, but a good example of how people thought in the mid 1800s. And Mr. Verne's disregard for women, except in the ONE book I read where he actually has a female character, is disconcerting. But still, all have been great fun and worth the read (and some have been downright delightful):
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Looooved this. It's a great story. The characters are original and, at times, highly amusing. I found it quite a page turner.
The Mysterious Island
I enjoyed it, but not because it's a terrific story or has good characters, neither of which I think it really has (they aren't bad, but neither are very engaging). I enjoyed it because it was fascinating to see into the mind of the Western European male mind of the 1800s: this self-righteous, absolute arrogance and complete belief that white men were automatically endowed with all of the knowledge and temperament needed to create a paradise anywhere, that they could create absolutely anything out of nothing. In this (and the other Verne books I've read), women matter so little that not only are they rarely named, they aren't even referred to -- on the "mysterious" island, not one of the men ever pines for women. Tobacco, yes, women, no. In fact, dogs are much more valued than women in the world of Jules Verne. But please note that I say all of this while still really enjoying the works of Jules Verne, and I'm planning on reading at least one more book by him it's a fascinating insight into a different era, that makes me oh-so-thankful that times have changed for many (but not all) women in th world.
From Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon
I laughed out loud oh-so-many times reading these, especially the first one, describing the American character (especially the descriptions of The Gun-Club). I wasn't happy over how nonchalant everyone was over the killing of the poor dog! And I thought it strange that slavery nor the Civil War are ever mentioned (at least that I noticed), two things that were still very much on people's minds in the USA when these novels are set. Still, these are very fun, worthwhile reads, and it's kinda freaky how much he gets right about the first launch to the moon.
Five Weeks in a Balloon
Men, men, men... there's nothing here but men... it's another men-are-so-manly, especially white men, story from Mr. Verne. This was his first, and it's still a cracking good adventure, even if it creaks in more than a few places. Stefan pointed out that the hero of the story, Dr. Fergusson, never utters a racial slur, and I think it must have been a kind of class statement by the author. I also really liked Chapter XVI, where Dr. Fergusson argues that Africa could someday become the center of civilization. It's downright prescient.
Around the World in Eighty Days
I read this last of all, and am really glad I saved it until I had read the others. It's definitely the BEST -- terrific story, wonderfully vivid characters, dialogue that will make you laugh and, shock of all shocks, a woman character! You will appreciate it all the more if you read at least a couple of Verne books before this one. It also gave me my life's motto: transire benefaciendo: "to travel along while doing good" (which, ofcourse, Mr. Fogg doesn't actually do...)
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