Thursday, August 15, 2013

Around the Globe with Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days book cover by Scott McKowen

I just love the cover of the Sterling Unabridged Classics edition of Jules Verne's 'Around the World in Eighty Days', featuring a beautiful scratchboard style illustration of a globe by Scott McKowen.

The three legs and the full meridian suggest a floor globe but the legs are too short and the meridian is too thick to be a floor globe so it could be a desktop globe (up to 11 inches across) or tabletop globe (12+ inches across)

A floor globe would have longer legs and thinner meridian, like the Queen Anne Globe:
queen anne floor globe
Replogle Queen Anne Globe 16-inch Floor Standing

queen anne globe in a living room
How the Queen Anne Globe might look in one's living room.
This is a 32-inch tall beauty, 16 inches across, its graceful legs polished to a cherry finish.

An even bigger floor globe would have a more squat proportion, like the Diplomat Globe:
replogle diplomat globe
Replogle Diplomat Globe 32-inch Illuminated Floor Standing
Standing at 51 inches tall, 32 inches across (twice the width of the Queen Anne), with over 20,000 place names, this is a very detailed beast – the world's most detailed globe in fact. Note the thin-looking legs and the thin meridian in proportion to the globe. In general, this is because the globe enlarged without adding much to the weight, so the pedestal legs didn't have to thicken (they just needed to add a fifth "leg" to support the meridian) and the meridian stayed thin like that in the Queen Anne.

Nevertheless, the Verne cover illustration is beautiful – the globe's colors and style remind me of a tabletop gemstone globe. In fact, had it been colored lighter and bluer, its pedestal made of wood, and its compass removed, this black opalite tabletop gemstone globe would have looked like the globe in the cover:
black opalite gemstone globe
Black Opalite Gemstone Globe 13-inch Commander Gold Stand

The Verne Identity

Back to Jules Verne, writer and translator Ron Miller has a list debunking almost all the things we think we know about Verne ("we" being at least the English speakers):

  1. No balloon voyage in "Around the World in Eighty Days"
  2. He was not a children's book writer. He was that rare combination of a good history and science researcher (especially geography) and an adventure writer. His translators were the children's book writers
  3. Verne was not an armchair adventurer, he was a traveler.
  4. He was not a plagiarizer of American Dime novels
  5. He was not a science-fiction writer, he was a writer about various places on earth – 'geografiction', if you will.
  6. He did not invent the periscope, neither did he predict nuclear energy.

He loved geography though – he must have loved globes. An Indian educational supply seller has neatly outlined why globes are fascinating for both the young and old: A globe enables us to see the position and relative size of a place in a fairly accurate way, and it allows our imaginations to run free – a must-have for any imaginative writer like Verne.

The Verne Legacy

Verne's imagination not only took us places around the world, it took us under the oceans (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), under the continents (Journey to the Center of the Earth), to the skies (Robur the Conqueror), to the moon (From the Earth to the Moon), and back .

jules verne twenty thousand leagues under the sea titlepiece
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
jules verne journey to the center of the earth book cover
Journey to the Center of the Earth
jules verne robur the conqueror titlepiece
Robur the Conqueror
jules verne from the earth to the moon book cover
From the Earth to the Moon

Wikipedia lists a 'Who's Who' of famous people inspired by Jules Verne's works. Here are some of them:

Science: Simon Lake (submarine designer), William Beebe (naturalist), Sir Ernest Shackleton (explorer), Robert Ballard (oceanographer), Jacques Cousteau (ocean explorer)

Literature: Arthur Rimbaud (poet), Jean Cocteau (novelist), Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (writer of The Little Prince), Arthur C. Clarke (science-fiction writer).

Verne Flame

Perhaps the greatest acknowledgement to Jules Verne's influence was voiced by French general Hubert Lyautey. When a civil servant tried to belittle his plans by saying "All this, sir, it's like doing a Jules Verne." Lyautey replied "Yes, sir, it's like doing a Jules Verne, because for twenty years, the people who move forward have been doing a Jules Verne."

Yes, with the aid of a globe or not, reach out, move forward – and do a Jules Verne.

jules verne tomb

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