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Jules Verne

Jules Verne Jules Verne[2†]

Jules Verne, born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France, and died on March 24, 1905, in Amiens[1†][2†], was a prolific French author whose writings laid much of the foundation of modern science fiction[1†][2†]. His father intended for him to follow in his footsteps as an attorney, sending him to Paris to study law[1†]. However, Verne fell in love with literature, particularly theatre[1†]. He wrote several plays, worked as secretary of the Théâtre Lyrique (1852–54), and published short stories and scientific essays in the periodical Musée des familles[1†].

In 1857, Verne married and worked as a broker at the Paris Stock Market for several years[1†]. During this period, he continued to write, conduct research at the Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library), and dream of a new kind of novel—one that would combine scientific fact with adventure fiction[1†]. In September 1862, Verne met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, who agreed to publish the first of Verne’s Voyages extraordinaires (“Extraordinary Journeys”)— Cinq semaines en ballon (1863; Five Weeks in a Balloon)[1†]. This novel became an international best seller, leading Hetzel to offer Verne a long-term contract to produce many more works of “scientific fiction”[1†]. Verne subsequently quit his job at the stock market to become a full-time writer[1†].

Verne’s collaboration with Hetzel resulted in the creation of the Voyages extraordinaires, a series of bestselling adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, and Around the World in Eighty Days[1†][2†][3†]. His novels, always well-documented, are generally set in the second half of the 19th century, taking into account the technological advances of the time[1†][2†]. In addition to his novels, he wrote numerous plays, short stories, autobiographical accounts, poetry, songs, and scientific, artistic, and literary studies[1†][2†].

Verne is considered to be an important author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism[1†][2†]. His reputation was markedly different in the Anglosphere where he had often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children’s books[1†][2†]. Since the 1980s, his literary reputation has improved[1†][2†]. Jules Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking below Agatha Christie and above William Shakespeare[1†][2†]. He has sometimes been called the “father of science fiction”, a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France[1†][4†]. He was the eldest son of a prosperous lawyer, Pierre Verne, and his wife Sophie[1†][4†]. Raised in a middle-class family, Jules was sent to Paris to study law, as his father intended for him to follow in his footsteps as an attorney[1†][5†]. However, Verne fell in love with literature, particularly theatre[1†].

During his time in Paris, he wrote several plays and worked as secretary of the Théâtre Lyrique from 1852 to 1854[1†]. He also published short stories and scientific essays in the periodical Musée des familles[1†]. Despite his parents’ constant drive to achieve middle-class respectability, Verne learned to escape into his own world of imagination[1†][4†]. This rebellious nature and his love for literature would later show up in many of Verne’s works as an adult[1†][4†].

In his twelfth year, Jules worked as a cabin boy on an ocean-going ship. The ship was intercepted by his father before it went to sea, and Jules is said to have promised his parents that in the future he “would travel only in imagination”—a prediction fulfilled in a manner his parents could not have imagined[1†][4†].

Career Development and Achievements

Jules Verne’s career as a writer took off when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, a publisher who was impressed by Verne’s innovative ideas[1†][2†]. Their collaboration led to the creation of the Voyages extraordinaires, a series of bestselling adventure novels[1†][2†][3†]. The first of these, “Five Weeks in a Balloon” (1863), was serialized in Hetzel’s Le Magasin d’éducation et de récréation and became an international bestseller[1†]. This success led Hetzel to offer Verne a long-term contract to produce many more works of “scientific fiction”[1†].

Verne quit his job at the stock market to become a full-time writer[1†]. His collaboration with Hetzel lasted for more than 40 years and resulted in more than 60 works in the popular series Voyages extraordinaires[1†]. Some of his most famous novels from this series include “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, “From the Earth to the Moon”, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, and "Around the World in Eighty Days"[1†][2†][3†].

Verne’s novels, always well-documented, are generally set in the second half of the 19th century, taking into account the technological advances of the time[1†][2†]. In addition to his novels, he wrote numerous plays, short stories, autobiographical accounts, poetry, songs, and scientific, artistic, and literary studies[1†][2†].

A true inventor and visionary, Verne set ideas and wrote about many important inventions, conveniences, and explorations we experience today. He predicted the use of hydrogen as an energy source as well as future technologies such as submarines, airplanes, helicopters, and skyscrapers[1†][6†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Jules Verne’s first published novel was “Five Weeks in a Balloon”, which was released in 1863[7†]. This marked the beginning of his prolific writing career, and he went on to publish numerous novels that have had a profound influence on the genre of science fiction[7†][8†][2†].

Here are some of his main works along with their first year of publication:

Each of these works is a testament to Verne’s imaginative storytelling and his ability to weave scientific facts into his narratives. His novels are set in the second half of the 19th century and take into account the technological advances of the time[7†][2†]. They have been adapted for film, television, comic books, theater, opera, music, and video games, demonstrating their enduring appeal[7†][2†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Jules Verne is remembered today chiefly as one of the two most notable writers of science fiction in a time before that term existed[10†]. I. O. Evans has described Verne as the “founder” of science fiction, and Peter Costello has called him the “inventor” of science fiction[10†]. The claim is justified, but it should be remembered that Verne did not see himself in this way—he was quite sincere in seeing no real literary relationship between his own work and that of H. G. Wells, with whom he was frequently compared during the last decade of his life[10†].

What Verne actually set out to do, consciously and methodically, was to use geography as an ideative resource in the same way that Alexandre Dumas, père, had used history[10†]. Only a fraction of his work can be described as science fiction, yet all of it fits into a single pattern that is suggested by his use of the term “les voyages extraordinaires” as a kind of series title for his oeuvre[10†]. The medium that Verne invented and developed might more appropriately be called “the novel of imaginary tourism”; the science-fiction element in his work arose out of his occasional ambitions to send his tourists to places never before visited by humans (the North Pole, the moon, and cave systems beneath the earth’s surface)[10†].

In some instances, he had to devise new modes of travel—Barbicane’s space-gun and Robur’s flying machine—but, for the most part, he was content to employ conventional means of transport or slightly more luxurious versions of already existing machines (balloons and submarines)[10†]. There is a sense in which Verne’s reputation has been distorted by the emphasis on his achievements as a precursor of modern science fiction[10†].

Verne started out as a technological optimist and a firm believer in the benefits of science and later shifted to a more sceptical stance, warning of the dangers of unbridled and dehumanised progress[10†][11†]. Half of Verne’s work, according to Evans, reflects this change of attitude[10†][11†].

Personal Life

Jules Verne was a complex individual. Despite his lively nature and fondness for jokes and pranks, he was essentially a shy man who found solace in solitude, particularly when in his study or sailing the English Channel in a converted fishing boat[4†]. He had a difficult and complex relationship with his parents, which was reflected in his bohemian lifestyle in Paris[4†][12†].

In 1857, Verne married Honorine Anne Hébée du Fraysne de Viane[4†][2†]. They had one child together, Michel Verne[4†][2†]. Verne also became the stepfather to Honorine’s two daughters from her first marriage, Valentine and Suzanne Morel[4†][2†].

Verne’s life was marked by a constant struggle against the standards and lifestyle that his family tried to impose on him[4†][13†]. Despite this, he never fully escaped the clutches of middle-class respectability and appears to have spent the last forty years of his life maintaining a facade to meet his family’s expectations[4†][13†].

In 1886, Verne was the victim of a shooting accident, which left him disabled[4†]. Despite this setback, he continued to write and contribute to the field of science fiction until his death in 1905[4†][1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Jules Verne’s legacy is vast and enduring. At his death on March 24, 1905, Verne had been a successful author for more than four decades[14†]. His commercial value was assured, and his marketability increased exponentially in the course of the twentieth century[14†]. The Voyages extraordinaires were exploited and adapted, then transposed with huge success to other forms and media[14†]. With Georges Méliès’s two short films Voyage dans la lune (1902) and Voyage à travers l’impossible (1904), and with Michel Verne’s own later ventures into film-making, the enduring tradition of cinematic adaptations of Verne’s works was established[14†].

Today, Jules Verne is not only a household name, but is recognized as an essential icon of travel, exploration, and scientific progress[14†]. His place in Western culture is attested among other things by the massive number of events and exhibitions that were organized in France and across the world in 2005 to celebrate the centenary of this enduringly popular author[14†].

Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking below Agatha Christie and above William Shakespeare[14†][3†]. He has sometimes been called the “father of science fiction”, a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback[14†][3†].

The real legacy of Jules Verne is not his predictions, but how he inspired generation after generation to dream beyond what was considered possible[14†][15†]. Neil Armstrong credited Verne with inspiring the moon missions[14†][15†]. Simon Lake, an early American industrialist and entrepreneur, was inspired by him to create his submarines[14†][15†].

A re-examination of his work today reveals Verne’s literary prowess not only for his foresight in predicting new forms of travel, but also for his insights into humanity, society, history, and the world[14†][16†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Jules Verne: French author [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Jules Verne [website] - link
  3. Wikiwand - Jules Verne - Wikiwand [website] - link
  4. Encyclopedia of World Biography - Jules Verne Biography [website] - link
  5. Britannica Kids - Jules Verne [website] - link
  6. Famous Authors - Jules Verne [website] - link
  7. Order of Books - Order of Jules Verne Books [website] - link
  8. Wikipedia (English) - Jules Verne bibliography [website] - link
  9. New World Encyclopedia - Jules Verne [website] - link
  10. eNotes - Jules Verne Analysis [website] - link
  11. BBVA OpenMind - Jules Verne and the Dream of Sustainable Scientific Progress [website] - link
  12. Oxford Academic - Jules Verne: The Definitive Biography [website] - link
  13. eNotes - Jules Verne Biography [website] - link
  14. Cambridge University Press - Jules Verne - Chapter: Conclusion [website] - link
  15. The Enchanted Manor - Jules Verne – The Legacy [website] - link
  16. PAMLA - PAMLA Events Presents: The Writing and Legacy of Jules Verne [website] - link
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