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Verne, Jules

(French, 1828–1905)

Jules Verne refused to take over his father's business, at one stage running off to sea and only being prevented after the boat had set sail. In the end, his father was indulgent enough to let him go to Paris where he wrote drama and poetry. Under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe, Verne turned his attention to escapist adventures in prose.

His characteristic technique is to set a straightforward adventure yarn in an exotic world and lace it with science. These ‘voyages extraordinaires’ were taken up by the children's publisher Hetzel who needed a regular author for a children's magazine he was producing. A book to start with might be the early success, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), in which Verne's three protagonists travel to a dormant volcano from which they descend to the earth's core. In Round the World in Eighty Days (1873) Phileas Fogg embarks on a wild ballooning journey in order to win a bet. Verne has a highly evocative, descriptive style which makes his work attractive and accessible to younger readers, and of course many of his books have been made into films. In Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (1870), Verne presents a slightly darker vision. The hero, Captain Nemo, is an Indian prince who has rebelled against the British empire by creating a life for himself in a submarine.

H. G. Wells, C. S. Lewis, Henry Rider Haggard  LM

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Tr-Z)