Jules Verne is best known for his imaginative adventure novels which set examples of science fiction. Famous writers he influenced include H.G. Wells (The Time Machine) and Edgar Rich Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes.)
Early Life of Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne (Feb 8, 1828 – Mar 24, 1905) was born in the port of Nantes, western France, the son of a lawyer. He went to Paris to study law. There, an uncle introduced him into the literary circles, and he met Alexandre Dumas. He still managed to pass his law degree despite allocating time to writing.
At 28, he married a young widow, Honorine de Viane, acquiring two stepchildren. He went into stock broking to provide secure income, but still managed to write. He achieved his first popularity with Five Weeks in a Balloon when he was 35 years old. Slowly he was more lured to writing than stock brokering. After the success of A Journey to the Centre of the Earth when he was 36 years old, he finally devoted himself to writing.
Themes of His Books
Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel before air travel and submarines were invented, as well as practical means of space travel had been devised. He is one of the most translated authors in the world and some of his works have been made into successful films. He is often popularly referred to as the father of science fiction.
His books describe incredible adventures, influencing later famous writer H.G. Wells. His stories caught the imagination of 19th-century readers, who were much enthralled by scientific inventions. Machines that had not been invented in his day, such as spacecraft, were imagined by Verne, and his amazing descriptions made them sound so exciting, fun and believable.
Verne’s Two Most Successful Books
Verne’s two most successful works are Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days. The former is about Captain Nemo who travels in a submarine under the ocean, and Around the World in Eighty Days is about the journey of Phileas Fogg around Earth in just 80 days, an incredible span of time.
- Major Books by Jules Verne
- Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1863
- A Journey to the Centre 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 Master of the World, 1904
Jules Verne – Mysterious Island
This will be an unusual (not to mention) obscure choice for most. Mysterious Island by Jules Verne is the only book that I have read more than 3 times in my life, and I have read it over ten. To me, it is the most essential story of the human struggle to survive ethically in a hostile environment that has ever been written.
On the literal level, it is a Robinson Crusoe type of survival story with the usual elements: stranding on a desert island; physical hardships and danger; unseen benefactors; life-or-death decisions between expediency and morality, just to name some. But the master Verne is at his best here by restraining the fantastical elements of his typical work and delving into the minutia of 5 men (later to become 6) who put aside their regional cultural and philosophic differences to create a miraculous Utopian environment in just a few years.
Verne infused Island with his beliefs about pragmatism, racial equality and the need for civilization to always oppose and resist barbarism. The lead character of Captain Cyrus Harding is one for the ages, a man who can produce gunpowder from carcasses and build windmills with no modern tools, yet is equally at home in discussing fine literature and politics. I recall as a child wishing for a Harding-like mentor in my life, and even now my adult inner child looks askance at the American political scene and hopes for one such as his mythic figure to burst upon it and right all of the terrible wrongs done by far weaker, more nefarious men in power.
I first read this at the age of 10, and I just finished my most recent return to it last year at the age of 48. Now, I can see where the writers of the show Lost received at least the core of their ideas about the reactions of humans stranded accidentally on a deserted island. Verne has long been known as one of the fathers of the science-fiction genre, but it is the human non-technical flavor to Mysterious Island that left such an indelible mark on my psyche. Heartily recommended to all – young and old.