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Verne, Jules

Jules Verne

Born: February 8, 1828
Nantes, France
Died: March 24, 1905
Amiens, France

French novelist and writer

The French novelist Jules Verne was the first authentic writer of modern science fiction. The best of his works, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, are characterized by his intelligent foresight into the technical achievements that are within man's grasp.

Early life

Jules Gabriel Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France, the eldest son of a prosperous lawyer, Pierre Verne, and his wife Sophie. Raised in a middle-class family, Jules despised his parents' constant drive to achieve middle-class respectability. Always rebellious but unsuccessful, Verne learned to escape into his own world of imagination. These feelings would show up in many of Verne's works as an adult.

An otherwise uneventful childhood was marked by one major event. 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.

Career as a playwright

In 1847 Verne went to Paris, France, to study law, although privately he was already planning a literary career. Owing to the friendship he made with French author Alexandre Dumas the Elder (18021870), Verne's first play, Broken Straws, was producedwith some successin 1850. From 1852 to 1855 he held a steady and low-paying position as secretary of a Paris theater, the Théâtre Lyrique. He continued to write comedies and operettas and began contributing short stories to a popular magazine, Le Musée des familles.

During a visit to Amiens, France, in May 1856, Verne met and fell in love with the widowed daughter of an army officer, Madame Morel (née Honorine de Viane), whom he married the following January. The circumstance that his wife's brother was a stockbroker may have influenced Verne in making the unexpected decision to embrace this profession. Membership in the Paris Exchange did not seriously interfere with his literary labors, however, because he adopted a rigorous timetable, rising at five o'clock in order to put in several hours researching and writing before beginning his day's work at the Bourse.

First novels

Verne's first long work of fiction, Five Weeks in a Balloon, took the form of an account of a journey by air over central Africa, at that time largely unexplored. The book, published in January 1863, was an immediate success. He then decided to retire from stockbroking and to devote himself full time to writing.

Verne's next few books were immensely successful at the time and are still counted among the best he wrote. A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) describes the adventures of a party of explorers and scientists who descend the crater of an Icelandic volcano and discover an underground world. The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) centers on an expedition to the North Pole (not actually reached by Robert Peary until 1909). In From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and its sequel, Round the Moon (1870), Verne describes how two adventurous Americansjoined, naturally, by a Frenchmanarrange to be fired in a hollow projectile from a gigantic cannon that lifts them out of Earth's gravity field and takes them close to the moon. Verne not only pictured the state of weightlessness his "astronauts" experienced during their flight, but also he had the vision to locate their launching site in Florida, where nearly all of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) space launches take place today.

Later works

Verne wrote his two masterpieces when he was in his forties. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) relates the voyages of the submarine Nautilus, built and commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo, one of the literary figures in whom Verne incorporated many of his own character traits. Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) is the story of a successful bet made by a typical Englishman, Phineas Fogg, a character said to have been modeled on Verne's father, who had a mania for punctuality, or the art of timeliness.

Other popular novels include The Mysterious Island (1875) and Michael Strogoff (1876). Verne's total literary output comprised nearly eighty books, but many of them are of little value or interest today. One noteworthy feature of all his work is its moral idealism, which earned him in 1884 the personal congratulations of Pope Leo XIII (18101903). "If I am not always what I ought to be," Verne once wrote, "my characters will be what I should like to be." His interest in scientific progress was balanced by his religious faith, and in some of his later novels (such as The Purchase of the North Pole, 1889), he showed himself to be aware of the social dangers of uncontrolled technological advance.

Verne the man

Verne's personality was complex. Though capable of bouts of extreme liveliness and given to joking and playing practical jokes, he was basically a shy man, happiest when alone in his study or when sailing the English Channel in a converted fishing boat.

In 1886 Verne was the victim of a shooting accident, which left him disabled. The man that shot him proved to be a nephew who was suffering from mental instability. This incident served to reinforce Verne's natural tendency toward depression. Although he served on the city council of Amiens two years later, he spent his old age in retirement. In 1902 he became partially blind and he died on March 24, 1905 in Amiens.

For More Information

Costello, Peter. Jules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978.

Evans, I. O. Jules Verne and His Work. New York: Twayne, 1966. Reprint, Mattituck, NY: Aeonian Press, 1976.

Jules-Verne, Jean. Jules Verne: A Biography. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1976.

Lottman, Herbert R. Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

Lynch, Lawrence W. Jules Verne. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992.

Teeters, Peggy. Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented Tomorrow. New York: Walker and Company, 1993.

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Jules Verne

Jules Verne

The French novelist Jules Verne (1828-1905) was the first authentic exponent of modern science fiction. The best of his work is characterized by intelligent predictions of technical achievements actually within man's grasp at the time Verne wrote.

Jules Verne was born on Feb. 8, 1828, at Nantes, the eldest son of a prosperous provincial lawyer. An otherwise uneventful childhood was marked by one major escapade. In his twelfth year, Jules shipped as a cabin boy on an ocean-going three-master. The ship was intercepted by his father before it had put out to sea, and Jules is said to have promised his parents that "in future he would travel only in imagination"—a prediction fulfilled in a manner his parents could not have foreseen.

Career as a Playwright

In 1847 Verne went to Paris to study law, although privately he was already planning a literary career. Owing to the friendship he made with Alexandre Dumas the Elder, Verne's first play, Broken Straws, was produced—with some success—in 1850. From 1852 to 1855 he held a steady and ill-paid position as secretary of a Paris theater, the Théâtre Lyrique. He continued to write comedies and operettas and began contributing short stories to a popular magazine, Le Musée des familles.

During a visit to Amiens in May 1856, Verne met and fell in love with the widowed daughter of an army officer, Madame Morel (née Honorine de Viane), whom he married the following January. The circumstance that his wife's brother was a stockbroker may have influenced Verne in making the unexpected decision to embrace this profession. Membership in the Paris Exchange did not seriously interfere with his literary labors, however, because he adopted a rigorous timetable, rising at five o'clock in order to put in several hours researching and writing before beginning his day's work at the Bourse.

First Novels

Verne's first long work of fiction, Five Weeks in a Balloon, took the form of an account of a journey by air over Central Africa, at that time largely unexplored. The book, published in January 1863, was an immediate success. He then decided to retire from stockbroking and to devote himself full time to authorship. His next few books were immensely successful at the time and are still counted among the best he wrote. A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) describes the adventures of a party of explorers and scientists who descend the crater of an Icelandic volcano and discover an underground world. The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) centers on an expedition to the North Pole (not actually reached by Robert Peary until 1909). In From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and its sequel, Round the Moon (1870), Verne describes how two adventurous Americans—joined, naturally, by an equally intrepid Frenchman—arrange to be fired in a hollow projectile from a gigantic cannon that lifts them out of the earth's gravity field and takes them close to the moon. Verne not only pictured the state of weightlessness his "astronauts" experienced during their flight, but also he had the prescience to locate their launching site in Florida.

Later Works

Verne wrote his two masterpieces when he was in his 40s. Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870) relates the voyages of the submarine Nautilus, built and commanded by the mysterious Capt. Nemo, one of the literary figures in whom Verne incorporated many of his own character traits. Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) is the story of a successful wager made by a typically phlegmatic Englishman, Phineas Fogg, a character said to have been modeled on Verne's father, who had a mania for punctuality. Other popular novels include The Mysterious Island (1875) and Michael Strogoff (1876). Verne's total literary output comprised nearly 80 books, but many of them are of little value or interest today. One noteworthy feature of all his work is its moral idealism, which earned him in 1884 the personal congratulations of Pope Leo XIII. "If I am not always what I ought to be, " Verne once wrote, "my characters will be what I should like to be." His interest in scientific progress was tempered by his robust religious faith, and in some of his later novels (such as The Purchase of the North Pole, 1889), he showed himself aware of the social dangers of uncontrolled technological advance.

Verne the Man

Verne's personality was complex. Though capable of bouts of extreme liveliness and given to punning and playing practical jokes, he was fundamentally a shy man, happiest when alone in his study or when sailing the English Channel in a converted fishing smack. In 1886 he was the victim of a shooting affray, which left him lame. His assailant proved to be a nephew who was suffering from an attack of persecution mania. This incident served to reinforce Verne's natural tendency to melancholy. Although he stood successfully for election to the city council of Amiens two years later, he spent his old age in close retirement. In 1902 he became partially blind; he died on March 24, 1905.

Further Reading

Verne's niece, Marguerite Allotte de la Fuye, published a biography based partly on family papers, Jules Verne (1928; trans. 1954). Kenneth Allott, Jules Verne (1940), is a full biography with critical appraisal of Verne's books. I. O. Evans, Jules Verne and His Work (1965), in spite of its naively uncritical approach, contains interesting illustrative material and an extensive bibliography.

Additional Sources

Costello, Peter, Jules Verne: inventor of science fiction, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1978.

Evans, I. O.. (Idrisyn Oliver), Jules Verne and his work, Mattituck N.Y.: Aeonian Press, 1976.

Jules-Verne, Jean, Jules Verne: a biography, New York: Taplinger Pub. Co., 1976. □

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Verne, Jules (1828–1905)

Verne, Jules (18281905)


Jules Verne, who has been called the "father of science fiction," was born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France. As a child, Verne enjoyed exploring the quays on the River Loire near his home. His favorite book was The Swiss Family Robinson because of its constant action and because members of the shipwrecked family contribute their different talents to the task of survival. As a young adult, Verne evaded his parents' plans for a career in law. Instead, in 1857, he bought himself a seat on the stock exchange, writing in his spare time. When, in 1862, he sold his first novel (Cinq Semainesen ballon, 1863; Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1869), he announced to his fellow stockbrokers that he had written a novel in a new genre created by himself. With this, he quit the stock exchange and devoted himself to writing. He was an extraordinarily prolific author, eventually publishing more than sixty novels in the series Les voyages extraordinaires (Fantastic journeys).

In Jules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction (1978) Peter Costello observes that there was nothing new in Verne's concept of "fantastic journeys." Science fiction in this sense can be seen in the writings of the ancient Greeks. However, Costello suggests, Verne was the first to use a well-researched scientific basis for his tales. This makes his work convincing in a way that previous texts are not.

There is some controversy about the extent to which Verne's texts were intended for a child audience. In Jules Verne and His Work (1966) I. O. Evans observes that, although Verne was always mindful of young readers, he rarely wrote especially for them. Moreover, Walter James Miller points out in his foreword to The Annotated Jules Verne (1976) that Verne is considered a highly respected writer of adult fiction in much of Europe. It is only in Britain and America that his works are relegated to childrena fact that Miller attributes to the extensive editing and poor translations of the English-language texts.

On the other hand, Verne's novels may have particular appeal to children because of their emphasis on action and suspense. Furthermore, children can easily identify with Verne's protagonists. Just as children are marginalized in an adult-run society, so Verne's protagonists stand apart from society as they travel to the moon or to the center of the earth. In addition, Verne's books suggest ways in which child readers can see themselves as possessing agency. For example, his protagonists often rely upon their wits rather than physical force. In some cases, they also invent alternatives to established social traditions. In Deux Ans de vacances (1888; Two Years' Vacation, 1889) a group of shipwrecked boys organizes a society based on cooperation and individual development. In many ways, this new society seems superior to the adult-run boarding school from which they came, in which younger boys were expected to act as personal servants for older ones.

Verne's texts have been adapted for film, including Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers (1870; Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1873), adapted and released by Walt Disney Productions in 1954, and Autour de la lune (1870; All Around the Moon, 1876), adapted and released by Jules Verne Films in 1967. His work has also been adapted for theater and television.

See also: Children's Literature.

bibliography

Costello, Peter. 1978. Jules Verne: Inventor of Science Fiction. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Evans, I. O. 1966. Jules Verne and His Work. New York: Twayne.

Miller, Walter James. 1976. "Foreword: A New Look at Jules Verne." In The Annotated Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, ed. Walter James Miller. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Jennifer Marchant

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Verne, Jules

Verne, Jules

French Science Fiction Novelist 1828-1905

Jules Gabriel Verne, one of the founding fathers of science fiction, was born in Nantes, France, in 1828. He was the eldest son of a successful provincial lawyer. At twelve years of age, Verne ran off to be a cabin boy on a merchant ship, thinking he was going to have an adventure. But his father caught up with the ship before it got very far and took Verne home to punish him. Verne promised in the future he would travel only in his imagination.

In 1847 Verne was sent to study law in Paris, and from 1848 until 1863 wrote opera librettos and plays as a hobby. He read incessantly and studied astronomy, geology, and engineering for many hours in Paris libraries. His first play was published in 1850, prompting his decision to discontinue his law studies. Displeased upon hearing this news, his father stopped paying his son's expenses in Paris. This forced Verne to earn money by selling his stories.

In 1862, at the age of thirty-four, Verne sent a series of works called Voyages Extraordinaire to Pierre-Jules Hetzel, a writer and publisher of literature for children and young adults. Verne attained enough success with the first in the series, Five Weeks in a Balloon, published in 1863, for the Verne/Hetzel collaboration to continue throughout his entire career. Hetzel published Verne's stories in his periodical, Magasin d'Education et de Recreation, and later released them in book form.

Due to nineteenth-century interest in science and invention, Verne's work was received with enormous popular favor. He forecast with remarkable accuracy many scientific achievements of the twentieth century. He anticipated flights into outer space, automobiles, submarines, helicopters, atomic power, telephones, air conditioning, guided missiles, and motion pictures long before they were developed. In his novels, however, science and technology are not the heroes. Instead, his heroes are admirable men who master science and technology. His object was to write books from which the young could learn.

Among his most popular books are Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (1870), Mysterious Island (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). These five novels have remained in almost continuous print for over a century. Verne also produced an illustrated geography of France, and his works have been the source of many films.

Because of the popularity of these and other novels, Verne became a wealthy man. In 1857 he married Honorine de Viane. In 1876 he bought a large yacht and sailed around Europe. This was the extent of his real-life adventuring, leaving the rest for his novels. He maintained a regular writing schedule of at least two volumes a year. Verne published sixty-five novels, thirty plays, librettos, geographies, occasional short stories, and essays.

The last novel he wrote before his death was The Invasion of the Sea. He died in the city of Amiens, France, in 1905.

see also Careers in Writing, Photography, and Filmmaking (volume 1); Literature (volume 1).

Vickie Elaine Caffey

Bibliography

Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). New York: William Morrow &Company, 1988.

Internet Resources

From the Earth to the Moon Interactive. NASA Johnson Space Center. <http://vesuvius.jsc.nasa.gov/er/she/bioverne.htm>.

"Jules Verne." <http://www.northstar.k12.ak.us/schools/ryn/spacerace/people/verne.html>.

"Jules Verne's Life History." <http://www.people.virginia.edu/~mtp0f/flips/history.html>.

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Verne, Jules

Jules Verne (vûrn; zhül vĕrn), 1828–1905, French novelist, originator of modern science fiction. After completing his studies at the Nantes lycée, he went to Paris to study law. He early became interested in the theater and wrote (1848–50) librettos for operettas. For some years his concerns alternated between business and the theater, but after 1863 he drew upon his interest in science and geography to write a series of romances of extraordinary journeys, in which he anticipated, with remarkable foresight, many scientific and technological achievements of the 20th cent.

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); H. Lottman, Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography (1996).

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Jules Verne (1828-1905)

JULES VERNE (1828-1905)

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury said that Jules Verne embodies the whole history of humanity. Indeed, Verne lived in an era marked by and obsessed with scientific developments. His novels, filled with technological descriptions, made him one of the founders of science fiction.

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Verne, Jules

Verne, Jules (1828–1905) French novelist. He is often considered one of the founding fathers of science fiction. Verne's imaginative adventure novels include Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).

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