Jules Verne and his Voyages extraordinaires

Jules Verne was a French novelist, playwright and poet, born in 1828 in Nantes, France. He died in 1905, having written an enormous array of works ranging from short stories and essays to full-length novels, as well as lyrics for songs and operetta. Many of his best-known works are from the Voyages extraordinaires series, which were published between 1863 and 1905, and it is these stories that we are focusing on for the Showcase exhibition. There were 54 books published in the series during Verne’s lifetime (with another eight printed posthumously), so there’s plenty of material and inspiration to choose from!

Many of the books from the Voyages extraordinaires are quite fantastical, but, Verne thoroughly researched his stories and enthusiastically read about new scientific discoveries throughout his life. While he is often regarded as one of the founders of the science fiction genre, along with other authors such as HG Wells, he did not necessarily believe that his stories foretold the future.

“You are doubtless aware,” interposed Mme. Verne, proudly, “that many apparently impossible scientific phenomena in my husband’s romances have come true?”

“Tut, tut,” cried M. Verne, deprecatingly, “that is a mere coincidence, and is doubtless owing to the fact that even when inventing scientific phenomena I always try and make everything seem as true and simple as possible. As to the accuracy of my descriptions, I owe that in a great measure to the fact that, even before I began writing stories, I always took numerous notes out of every book, newspaper, magazine, or scientific report that I came across.”

(Marie A. Belloc, ‘Jules Verne at Home’, Strand Magazine, February 1895, available at http://jv.gilead.org.il/belloc/ )

Whether you consider his stories to be sci-fi, adventure, romantic – or all three – Jules Verne did indeed write some truly extraordinary tales.

You might already be a fan of his work, or have only heard of one of his stories in passing, but we hope you will be able to find something that inspires you. We have put together a couple of lists to help get you started on your own Voyages extraordinaires.

Books

These are some of Jules Verne’s most famous stories from the Voyages extraordinaires series. However, as we’ve already mentioned, over 50 were published and you can find a full list on the Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyages_extraordinaires

  • Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1863)
  • Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864, revised 1867)
  • De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865)
  • Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, 1869–70)
  • Autour de la lune (Around The Moon, 1870)
  • Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873)
  • L’Île mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island, 1874–5)
  • Michel Strogoff (Michael Strogoff, 1876)

A note about translations: Verne’s books are the second most translated in the world, in between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare. However, some translations are considerably better than others, especially when it comes to the English ones. Quite a few English editions of Verne’s books were abridged and a few even had the stories changed. Some of the (particularly earlier) editions are also known for lacking the wit and excitement of the originals. For these reasons, it is probably worth seeking out post-1980s translations (not just reprints of earlier translations).

Movies & TV

There are numerous films and several TV series inspired by Jules Verne’s stories, although most are fairly loosely based on his novels. The first of his stories to be turned into a film was Voyage dans la Lune in 1902 by Georges Méliès, which was inspired by the book De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865).

Here are some of the films and TV adaptations of Jules Verne’s work that we think are most worth checking out. You can also find more on IMDB’s Jules Verne page http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0894523/

Finally, here are a few links in case you would like to find out a bit more about Jules Verne and his Voyages extraordinaires.

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jules-Verne
http://jv.gilead.org.il/FAQ/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Verne
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyages_extraordinaires