I recently read this as a read-aloud book with my 10 year old son. He found it at the library and thought it looked interesting, but found that the language was a bit confusing, so we decided to do it as a read aloud, so that we could stop and discuss whatever he did not understand.
I had initially read this book years ago, and am glad that I had the opportunity to go back to it. I had forgotten how funny and rather exciting it all is. Maybe less exciting because I knew the ending, but it was still great to read. The book is about a very wealthy, mysterious gentleman in London (Philleas Fogg) who places a wager for a large sum of money with his friends from his “Club” that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Together with his faithful man-servant, Passepartout, they embark on an international adventure, facing danger and excitement everywhere they go.
There is no doubt that the author was a product of his time. This book was published in 1873. Descriptions and stereotypes of various peoples throughout the book are often cringe-worthy. On the plus side, racist descriptions of native peoples and traditions throughout the world, as well as sexist scenarios with the only female character in the book of any importance, did lend themselves nicely to conversations about the politics at the time the book was written vs today. My son has a strong moral compass, and a definite view of right and wrong, so we spent a lot of time talking about why certain things in the book were inappropriate today, and while never should have been acceptable, were part of the culture of the British empire. We also were able to talk about the different countries that Philleus Fogg visited, and what was happening politically at the time (e.g. British colonization of India, the Westward move and conflicts with Native Americans in the United States, etc.)
In all, the book was a fun, if complicated read. The descriptions and detail is extraordinary; the language divine. If reading with a child (or giving to a child to read), it is definitely a book for a strong. mature reader. Adults should check their indignation at the door, and just accept the book for what it is – an entertaining classic.
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