Verne is especially known to English readers in translations of his Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870), Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), The Mysterious Island (1875), and Michael Strogoff (1876). Extremely popular, he wrote more than 50 books by the time he died. Plays and motion pictures have been made from many of his works, which are still widely read, particularly by the young. In 1989 the manuscript of Verne's long-lost 1863 novel Paris in the 20th Century was discovered; the pessimistic and prophetic futurist work was published in 1994.
See A. B. Evans, Jules Verne Rediscovered (1988).
(born Feb. 8, 1828, Nantes, France—died March 24, 1905, Amiens) French writer. He studied law then worked as a stockbroker while writing plays and stories. The first of his romantic adventures (voyages extraordinaires), Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863), was highly successful. His subsequent voyages—with increasingly fantastic yet carefully conceived scientific wonders that often anticipated 20th-century technological achievements—include A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne's work shaped the entire development of science fiction.
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Jules Gabriel Verne (February 8 1828 – March 24 1905) was a French author who pioneered the science-fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Journey to the Center of the Earth (written in 1864), From the Earth to the Moon (written in 1865), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (written in 1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (written in 1873). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised. He is the second most translated author of all time, only behind Agatha Christie with 4021 translations, according to Index Translationum. Some of his work has been made into films. Verne, along with H. G. Wells, is often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction".
At the boarding school, Verne studied Latin, which he used in his short story "Le Mariage de Monsieur Anselme des Tilleuls" in the mid-1850s. One of his teachers may have been the French inventor Brutus de Villeroi, professor of drawing and mathematics at Saint Donatien in 1842, and who later became famous for creating the US Navy's first submarine, the USS Alligator. De Villeroi may have inspired Verne's conceptual design for the Nautilus in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, although no direct exchanges between the two men have been recorded.
When Verne's father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period, he met Alexandre Dumas, père and Victor Hugo, who offered him writing advice. Dumas would become a close friend of Verne.
Verne also met Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow with two daughters. They were married on January 10 1857. With her encouragement, he continued to write and actively looked for a publisher. On August 3 1861, their son, Michel Jean Verne, was born. A classic enfant terrible, Michel was sent to Mettray Penal Colony in 1876 and later married an actress (in spite of Verne's objections), had two children by his 16-year-old mistress, and buried himself in debts. The relationship between father and son did improve as Michel grew older.
Verne's situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important French publishers of the 19th century, who also published Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. They formed an excellent writer-publisher team until Hetzel's death. Hetzel helped improve Verne's writings, which until then had been repeatedly rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of Verne's story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had been rejected by other publishers for being "too scientific". With Hetzel's help, Verne rewrote the story, which was published in 1863 in book form as Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon). Acting on Hetzel's advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages.
From that point to years after Verne's death, Hetzel published two or more volumes a year. The most successful of these include: Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. The series is collectively known as "Les voyages extraordinaires" ("extraordinary voyages"). Verne could now live on his writings. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1874) and Michel Strogoff (1876), a relatively conventional adventure tale set in Tsarist Russia, which he adapted for the stage with Adolphe d'Ennery. In 1867 Verne bought a small ship, the Saint-Michel, which he successively replaced with the Saint-Michel II and the Saint-Michel III as his financial situation improved. On board the Saint-Michel III, he sailed around Europe. In 1870, he was appointed "Chevalier" (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur. After his first novel, most of his stories were first serialised in the Magazine d'Éducation et de Récréation, a Hetzel biweekly publication, before being published in the form of books. His brother Paul contributed to 40th French climbing of the Mont-Blanc and a collection of short stories, Doctor Ox (1874). According to the Unesco Index Translationum, Jules Verne regularly places among the top five most translated authors in the world.
After the deaths of Hetzel and his beloved mother in 1887, Verne began writing darker works. This may have been due partly to changes in his personality, but an important factor was that Hetzel's son, who took over his father's business, was not as rigorous in his edits and corrections as Hetzel Sr. had been.
In 1888, Jules Verne entered politics and was elected town councilor of Amiens, where he championed several improvements and served for fifteen years.Though he elected from the left he stood with the right on Dreyfus Affair and was anti-Dreyfusard. In 1905, ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home, 44 Boulevard Longueville (now Boulevard Jules-Verne). His son Michel oversaw publication of his last novels Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World. The "Voyages extraordinaires" series continued for several years afterwards in the same rhythm of two volumes a year. It was later discovered that Michel Verne had made extensive changes in these stories, and the original versions were published at the end of the 20th century.
In 1863, Jules Verne wrote Paris in the 20th Century, a novel about a young man who lives in a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network, yet cannot find happiness and comes to a tragic end. Hetzel thought the novel's pessimism would damage Verne's then booming career, and suggested he wait 20 years to publish it. Verne put the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994.
Some critics felt 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea portrayed the British Empire in a bad light, and the first English translator, Reverend Lewis Page Mercier, working under a pseudonym, removed many offending passages, such as those describing the political actions of Captain Nemo in his incarnation as an Indian nobleman. Such negative depictions were not, however, invariable in Verne's works; for example, Facing the Flag features, in the character of Lieutenant Devon, a heroic, self-sacrificing Royal Navy officer worthy of any created by British authors. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea itself, Captain Nemo, an Indian, is balanced by Ned Land, a Canadian. Some of Verne's most famous heroes were British (e.g. Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days).
Mercier and subsequent British translators also had trouble with the metric system that Verne used, sometimes dropping significant figures, at other times changing the unit to an Imperial measure without changing the corresponding value. Thus Verne's calculations, which in general were remarkably exact, were converted into mathematical gibberish. Also, artistic passages and sometimes whole chapters were cut to fit the work into a constrained space for publication.
For these reasons, Verne's work initially acquired a reputation in English-speaking countries of not being fit for adult readers. This in turn prevented it from being taken seriously enough to merit new translations, and those of Mercier and others were reprinted decade after decade. Only from 1965 on have some of his novels received more accurate translations, but even today Verne's work has not been fully rehabilitated in the English-speaking world.
Verne's works may also reflect the bitterness France felt in the wake of its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and the consequent loss of Alsace and Lorraine. The Begum's Millions (Les Cinq cents millions de la Begum) of 1879 gives a highly stereotypical depiction of Germans as monstrously cruel militarists. By contrast, almost all the protagonists in his pre-1871 works, such as the sympathetic first-person narrator in Journey to the Centre of the Earth, are German.
Jules Verne's novels have been noted for being startlingly accurate anticipations of modern times. Paris in the 20th Century is an often cited example of this as it arguably describes air conditioning, automobiles, the Internet, television, and other modern conveniences very similar to their real world counterparts.
Another example is From the Earth to the Moon, which is uncannily similar to the real Apollo Program, as three astronauts are launched from the Florida peninsula and recovered through a splash landing. In the book, the spacecraft is launched from "Tampa Town"; Tampa, Florida is approximately 130 miles from NASA's actual launching site at Cape Canaveral.
He also predicted the existence of underwater hydrothermal vents that were not discovered until years after he wrote about them.
Verne wrote numerous works, most famous of which are the 54 novels part of the Voyages Extraordinaires. He also wrote short stories, essays, plays, and poems.
Note: only the dates of the first English translation and the most common translation title are given.
Other science-fiction pioneers:
Inspired by Jules Verne: