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“Around the World in 80 Days”, an exhibition in Prague reinvents the journey of Phileas Fogg





The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: National Museum

In 1872 appeared in France what will become the greatest success of its author, Jules Verne, “Around the world in 80 days”. This novel recounts the adventure of Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman who challenges himself to travel around the world in 80 days. The “Around the World in 80 Days” exhibition at the Náprstek Museum brings this imaginary character, as famous as its author, back to life. This is what Helena Heroldová, one of the organizers of the exhibition, explains:




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: Marie Ancien, Radio Prague Int.

“The idea for this exhibition appeared about a year and a half ago. The main idea is to present the imaginary character of Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne’s work, as if he had been a real traveller. That is to say, one wonders what would have happened if Phileas had really traveled around the world at that time. »

Indeed, the work of Jules Verne cannot be studied outside of its spatiotemporal context. The Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century led to the emergence of new modes of transport and in particular the development of railways and modes of maritime transport. From the sixth chapter, the opening of the Suez Canal which took place in 1869 allows Phileas Fogg to reach Bombay in record time. Finally, the latter manages to complete this world tour via Bombay, Hong Kong or even New York and San Francisco in 80 days. The exhibition then proposes to discover different objects from the stopover cities of his journey, on the supposed date of the passage of Phileas Fogg.




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: National Museum




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: Marie Ancien, Radio Prague Int.

“This exhibition consists of several parts. On the one hand, there are collectibles, from North Africa, East Asia, North America. These objects were chosen to represent the kind of objects that could have been purchased at the end of the 19th century. You could say they are memories. Many items were produced in India or China for foreigners to purchase and bring back to their home country. On the other hand, we have photos and texts that are there to answer visitors’ questions and provide information on sometimes very current questions such as colonialism, post-colonialism, westernization of China or Japan. What does it mean to be part of the British Empire in India. We have collectible photos that represent the world at the end of the 19th century. We also have elements for children of paper models of transport, boats, aerial machines inspired by the work of Jules Verne. We have newspapers, which are not real but give information about life in London, Hong Kong at that time. »




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: National Museum

The exhibition looks back on the life and personality of the author Jules Verne himself, but also on his immense success beyond the French borders. It is even one of the most widely read and translated works in the world, in particular because it addresses issues that still resonate today and all over the world.




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: National Museum

“He is very famous here. Part of the exhibition is devoted to the work and life of Jules Verne. There are two pieces dedicated to “Around the World in 80 Days” and an entire piece to Jules Verne himself. We can read different information about him, his novels and their translations. Indeed, his works were translated into Czech very quickly after their publication in French. At the end of the 19th century there were 80 translations into Czech. There are still many publications today and everyone knows who Jules Verne is and knows his most famous works. This is probably one of the reasons why the exhibition was created. »




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: National Museum

The first version translated into Czech of the novel was published in Prague in 1873, thanks to the work of the poet Jan Neruda. As in France and all over the world, other artists were inspired by the work of Jules Verne. The novel has notably been the subject of reinterpretations in series, cartoons, animated films or even paintings, as with Karel Zeman, some of whose drawings are also on display. Sculptures are also to be seen in this exhibition:




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: Marie Ancien, Radio Prague Int.

“Several authors, painters, producers have found inspiration in the work of Jules Verne. We have two statues by sculptor Jaroslav Róna inspired by science fiction. There is also a video clip and an interview with the sculptor in which he talks about his interest in science fiction but also in Jules Verne. He is preparing a new statue inspired by a famous scene of the author in which, at more than 2000 leagues deep, the giant Octopus fights with a diver. »

The exhibition therefore revisits Jules Verne’s famous novel by focusing on the personality of the characters and their author. She also insists on the character of Jean Passepartout, servant of Fogg, usually represented as a simple and funny character. However, the directors of the exhibition wanted to highlight the open-mindedness and the important role of Passepartout in the success of Phileas Fogg.




The exhibition 'Around the World in 80 Days' at the Náprstek Museum |  Photo: National Museum

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