Categorie(s): Fiction, Action & Adventure, Science
Jules Gabriel Verne (/vɜːrn/; French: [ʒyl gabʁjɛl vɛʁn]; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright.
Verne's collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages extraordinaires, a widely popular series of scrupulously researched adventure novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).
Verne is generally considered a major literary author in France and most of Europe, where he has had a wide influence on the literary avant-garde and on surrealism. His reputation was markedly different in Anglophone regions where he had often been labeled a writer of genre fiction or children's books, largely because of the highly abridged and altered translations in which his novels have often been printed (until the 1980s, when his "literary reputation ... began to improve").
Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare. He has sometimes been called the "Father of Science Fiction", a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley, and Hugo Gernsback. Verne was born on 8 February 1828, on Île Feydeau, a small artificial island on the Loire River within the town of Nantes, in No. 4 Rue Olivier-de-Clisson, the house of his maternal grandmother Dame Sophie Allotte de la Fuÿe. His parents were Pierre Verne, an attorney originally from Provins, and Sophie Allote de la Fuÿe, a Nantes woman from a local family of navigators and shipowners, of distant Scottish descent. In 1829, the Verne family moved some hundred meters away to No. 2 Quai Jean-Bart, where Verne's brother Paul was born the same year. Three sisters, Anna (1836), Mathilde (1839), and Marie (1842) would follow.
In 1834, at the age of six, Verne was sent to boarding school at 5 Place du Bouffay in Nantes. The teacher, Mme Sambin, was the widow of a naval captain who had disappeared some 30 years before. Mme Sambin often told the students that her husband was a shipwrecked castaway and that he would eventually return like Robinson Crusoe from his desert island paradise. The theme of the Robinsonade would stay with Verne throughout his life and appear in many of his novels, including The Mysterious Island (1874), Second Fatherland (1900), and The School for Robinsons (1882).
In 1836, Verne went on to École Saint‑Stanislas, a Catholic school suiting the pious religious tastes of his father. Verne quickly distinguished himself in mémoire (recitation from memory), geography, Greek, Latin, and singing. In the same year, 1836, Pierre Verne bought a vacation house at 29 Rue des Réformés in the village of Chantenay (now part of Nantes) on the Loire River. In his brief memoir "Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse" ("Memories of Childhood and Youth", 1890), Verne recalled a deep fascination with the river and with the many merchant vessels navigating it. He also took vacations at Brains, in the house of his uncle Prudent Allotte, a retired shipowner, who had gone around the world and served as mayor of Brains from 1828 to 1837. Verne took joy in playing interminable rounds of the Game of the Goose with his uncle, and both the game and his uncle's name would be memorialized in two late novels (The Will of an Eccentric (1900) and Robur the Conqueror (1886), respectively).
Legend has it that in 1839, at the age of 11, Verne secretly procured a spot as cabin boy on the three-mast ship Coralie with the intention of traveling to the Indies and bringing back a coral necklace for his cousin Caroline. The evening the ship set out for the Indies, it stopped first at Paimboeuf where Pierre Verne arrived just in time to catch his son and make him promise to travel "only in his imagination". It is now known that the legend is an exaggerated tale invented by Verne's first biographer, his niece Marguerite Allotte de la Füye, though it may have been inspired by a real incident.
In 1840, the Vernes moved again to a large apartment at No. 6 Rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, where the family's youngest child, Marie, was born in 1842. In the same year Verne entered another religious school, the Petit Séminaire de Saint-Donatien, as a lay student. His unfinished novel Un prêtre en 1839 (A Priest in 1839), written in his teens and the earliest of his prose works to survive, describes the seminary in disparaging terms. From 1844 to 1846, Verne and his brother were enrolled in the Lycée Royal (now the Lycée Georges-Clemenceau) in Nantes. After finishing classes in rhetoric and philosophy, he took the baccalauréat at Rennes and received the grade "Fairly good" on 29 July 1846.
By 1847, when Verne was 19, he had taken seriously to writing long works in the style of Victor Hugo, beginning Un prêtre en 1839 and seeing two verse tragedies, Alexandre VI and La Conspiration des poudres (The Gunpowder Plot), to completion. However, his father took it for granted that Verne, being the firstborn son of the family, would not attempt to make money in literature but would instead inherit the family law practice.
In 1847, Verne's father sent him to Paris, primarily to begin his studies in law school, and secondarily (according to family legend) to distance him temporarily from Nantes. His cousin Caroline, with whom he was in love, was married on 27 April 1847, to Émile Dezaunay, a man of 40, with whom she would have five children.
After a short stay in Paris, where he passed first-year law exams, Verne returned to Nantes for his father's help in preparing for the second year (provincial law students were in that era required to go to Paris to take exams). While in Nantes, he met Rose Herminie Arnaud Grossetière, a young woman one year his senior, and fell intensely in love with her. He wrote and dedicated some 30 poems to her, including "La Fille de l'air" ("The Daughter of Air"), which describes her as "blonde and enchanting / winged and transparent". His passion seems to have been reciprocated, at least for a short time, but Grossetière's parents frowned upon the idea of their daughter marrying a young student of uncertain future. They married her instead to Armand Terrien de la Haye, a rich landowner 10 years her senior, on 19 July 1848.
The sudden marriage sent Verne into deep frustration. He wrote a hallucinatory letter to his mother, apparently composed in a state of half-drunkenness, in which under pretext of a dream he described his misery. This requited but aborted love affair seems to have permanently marked the author and his work, and his novels include a significant number of young women married against their will (Gérande in "Master Zacharius" (1854), Sava in Mathias Sandorf (1885), Ellen in A Floating City (1871), etc.), to such an extent that the scholar Christian Chelebourg attributed the recurring theme to a "Herminie complex". The incident also led Verne to bear a grudge against his birthplace and Nantes society, which he criticized in his poem "La sixième ville de France" ("The Sixth City of France"). In July 1848, Verne left Nantes again for Paris, where his father intended him to finish law studies and take up law as a profession. He obtained permission from his father to rent a furnished apartment at 24 Rue de l'Ancienne-Comédie, which he shared with Édouard Bonamy, another student of Nantes origin. (On his 1847 Paris visit, Verne had stayed at 2 Rue Thérèse, the house of his aunt Charuel, on the Butte Saint-Roch.sfn|Compère|1997c
Verne arrived in Paris during a time of political upheaval: the French Revolution of 1848. In February, Louis Philippe I had been overthrown and had fled; on 24 February, a provisional government of the French Second Republic took power, but political demonstrations continued, and social tension remained. In June, barricades went up in Paris, and the government sent Louis-Eugène Cavaignac to crush the insurrection. Verne entered the city shortly before the election of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte as the first president of the Republic, a state of affairs that would last until the French coup of 1851 . In a letter to his family, Verne described the bombarded state of the city after the recent June Days uprising but assured them that the anniversary of Bastille Day had gone by without any significant conflict.
Verne used his family connections to make an entrance into Paris society. His uncle Francisque de Chatêaubourg introduced him into literary salons, and Verne particularly frequented those of Mme de Barrère, a friend of his mother's. While continuing his law studies, he fed his passion for the theatre, writing numerous plays. Verne later recalled: "I was greatly under the influence of Victor Hugo, indeed, very excited by reading and re-reading his works. At that time I could have recited by heart whole pages of Notre Dame de Paris, but it was his dramatic work that most influenced me." Another source of creative stimulation came from a neighbor: living on the same floor in the Rue de l'Ancienne-Comédie apartment house was a young composer, Aristide Hignard, with whom Verne soon became good friends, and Verne wrote several texts for Hignard to set as chansons.
During this period, Verne's letters to his parents primarily focused on expenses and on a suddenly appearing series of violent stomach cramps, the first of many he would suffer from during his life. (Modern scholars have hypothesized that he suffered from colitis; Verne believed the illness to have been inherited from his mother's side.) Rumors of an outbreak of cholera in March 1849 exacerbated these medical concerns. Yet another health problem would strike in 1851 when Verne suffered the first of four attacks of facial paralysis. These attacks, rather than being psychosomatic, were due to an inflammation in the middle ear, though this cause remained unknown to Verne during his life.
In the same year, Verne was required to enlist in the French military, but the sortition process spared him, to his great relief. He wrote to his father: "You should already know, dear papa, what I think of the military life, and of these domestic servants in livery. … You have to abandon all dignity to perform such functions." Verne's strong antiwar sentiments, to the dismay of his father, would remain steadfast throughout his life.
Though writing profusely and frequenting the salons, Verne diligently pursued his law studies and graduated with a licence en droit in January 1851. On 24 March 1905, while ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home in Amiens, 44 Boulevard Longueville (now Boulevard Jules-Verne). His son, Michel Verne, oversaw publication of the novels Invasion of the Sea and The Lighthouse at the End of the World after Jules's death. The Voyages extraordinaires series continued for several years afterwards at the same rate of two volumes a year. It was later discovered that Michel Verne had made extensive changes in these stories, and the original versions were eventually published at the end of the 20th century by the Jules Verne Society (Société Jules Verne). In 1919, Michel Verne published The Barsac Mission (French: L'Étonnante Aventure de la Mission Barsac), which original drafts contained references to Esperanto, language about which his father had great interest.
In 1989, Verne's great-grandson discovered his ancestor's as yet unpublished novel Paris in the Twentieth Century which was subsequently published in 1994.
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