The Voyages extraordinaires: Jules Verne’s Amazing Journeys around the world

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Let’s explore the world with Voyages Extraordinaires, a classic adventures series written by French writer Jules Verne,

Reading The Extraordinary Voyages by Jules Verne

As a French, I can’t speak of the translation of Verne’s books into English. The famous writer is part of the public domain, so his works are easily available in French, and you can also find many older translations of his novels on Project Gutenberg. Some of his later works have been translated into English quite late – and are not part of the public domain for the moment.

In all cases, if possible, it seems that people recommend checking out more modern translations. I let you decide!

The Best of Voyages Extraordinaires

Les « Voyages Extraordinaires » officially consists of 62 novels and 18 short stories. As most stories (with a few exceptions – see below!) are stand-alones, you can pick one that interests you and read it! To help you, here’s a selection of the most famous and best of Jules Verne’s series (in no particular order):

Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873)
Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864)
Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, 1869–70)
De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865)
Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant (In Search of the Castaways, 1867–68)
L’Île mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island, 1874–75)
Michel Strogoff (Michael Strogoff, 1876)
Le Château des Carpathes (The Carpathian Castle, 1892)
Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1863)

Les Voyages Extraordinaires, The Complete Reading List

Following is a list of the fifty-four books published during Jules Verne’s lifetime, along with the most frequent English-language title for each.

With a few exceptions, most of the novels in the Voyages series were initially serialized in periodicals, most notably Magasin d’Éducation et de Récreation. The dates mentioned are the dates of the first publication in book format.

Most of Verne’s books are standalone, with the following exceptions:

  • Around The Moon (1870) continues the story told in From the Earth to the Moon (1865). It’s a direct sequel, starting exactly where the first novel finishes. 
  • The Mysterious Island (1875) can be read as a standalone but also works as a very loose sequel to In Search of the Castaways (1868) and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (1870). A few characters from those books appear in The Mysterious Island. You will not lose anything to read them independently.
  • Master of the World (1904) is a sequel to Robur the Conqueror (1886).
  • An Antarctic Mystery (1897) is a sequel to Edgar Allan Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838).
  • The Castaways of the Flag (1900) is a sequel to Johann Wyss’ novel The Swiss Family Robinson (1812).
  1. Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon, 1863)
  2. Voyages et aventures du capitaine Hatteras (The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, 1864-66)
  3. Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864)
  4. De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865)
  5. Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (In Search of the Castaways, aka Captain Grant’s Children, 1867-68)
  6. Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, 1869-70)
  7. Autour de la lune (Around The Moon, 1870)
  8. Une ville flottante (A Floating City, 1871)
  9. Aventures de trois Russes et de trois Anglais (The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa, aka Measuring a Meridian, 1872)
  10. Le Pays des fourrures (The Fur Country, aka Seventy Degrees North Latitude, 1873)
  11. Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873)
  12. L’Île mystérieuse (The Mysterious Island, 1874-75)
  13. Le Chancellor (The Survivors of the Chancellor, 1875)
  14. Michel Strogoff (Michael Strogoff: The Courier of the Czar, 1876)
  15. Hector Servadac (Off on a Comet, 1877)
  16. Les Indes noires (The Child of the Cavern, aka The Underground City, 1877)
  17. Un capitaine de quinze ans (Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen, 1878)
  18. Les Cinq Cents Millions de la Bégum (The Begum’s Millions, 1879)
  19. Les Tribulations d’un chinois en Chine (Tribulations of a Chinaman in China, 1879)
  20. La Maison à vapeur (The Steam House, 1880)
  21. La Jangada (Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon, 1881)
  22. L’École des Robinsons (Godfrey Morgan, aka School for Crusoes, 1882)
  23. Le Rayon vert (The Green Ray, 1882)
  24. Kéraban-le-têtu (Kéraban the Inflexible, 1883)
  25. L’Étoile du sud (The Vanished Diamond, aka The Southern Star, 1884)
  26. L’Archipel en feu (The Archipelago on Fire, 1884)
  27. Mathias Sandorf (Mathias Sandorf, 1885)
  28. Un billet de loterie (The Lottery Ticket, aka Ticket No. 9672, 1886)
  29. Robur-le-Conquérant (Robur the Conqueror, aka The Clipper of the Clouds, 1886)
  30. Nord contre Sud (North Against South, aka Texar’s Revenge, 1887)
  31. Le Chemin de France (The Flight to France, 1887)
  32. Deux Ans de vacances (Two Years’ Vacation, 1888)
  33. Famille-sans-nom (Family Without a Name, 1889)
  34. Sans dessus dessous (The Purchase of the North Pole, aka Topsy-Turvy, 1889)
  35. César Cascabel (César Cascabel, 1890)
  36. Mistress Branican (Mistress Branican, 1891)
  37. Le Château des Carpathes (The Carpathian Castle, 1892)
  38. Claudius Bombarnac (Claudius Bombarnac, aka The Adventures of a Special Correspondent, 1892)
  39. P’tit-Bonhomme (Foundling Mick, 1893)
  40. Mirifiques Aventures de Maître Antifer (Captain Antifer, 1894)
  41. L’Île à hélice (Propeller Island, aka The Floating Island, 1895)
  42. Face au drapeau (Facing the Flag, 1896)
  43. Clovis Dardentor (Clovis Dardentor, 1896)
  44. Le Sphinx des glaces (An Antarctic Mystery, aka The Sphinx of the Ice Realm, 1897)
  45. Le Superbe Orénoque (The Mighty Orinoco, 1898)
  46. Le Testament d’un excentrique (The Will of an Eccentric, 1899)
  47. Seconde Patrie (The Castaways of the Flag, aka Second Fatherland, 1900)
  48. Le Village aérien (The Village in the Treetops, 1901)
  49. Les Histoires de Jean-Marie Cabidoulin (The Sea Serpent, 1901)
  50. Les Frères Kip (The Kip Brothers, 1902)
  51. Bourses de voyage (Travel Scholarships, 1903)
  52. Un drame en Livonie (A Drama in Livonia, 1904)
  53. Maître du monde (Master of the World, 1904)
  54. L’Invasion de la mer (Invasion of the Sea, 1905)

The next eight novels were published posthumously as part of the Voyages Extraordinaires. Originally written by Verne, some have been revised and expanded by his son Michel Verne (uncredited). No manuscript has been found for The Thompson Travel Agency, leading to believe that this novel might be exclusively Michel’s work.

  1. Le Phare du bout du monde (The Lighthouse at the End of the World, 1905)
  2. Le Volcan d’or (The Golden Volcano, 1906)
  3. L’Agence Thompson and Co (The Thompson Travel Agency, 1907)
  4. La Chasse au météore (The Chase of the Golden Meteor, 1908)
  5. Le Pilote du Danube (The Danube Pilot, 1908)
  6. Les Naufragés du “Jonathan” (The Survivors of the “Jonathan”, 1909)
  7. Le Secret de Wilhelm Storitz (The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz, 1910)
  8. L’Étonnante Aventure de la mission Barsac (The Barsac Mission, 1919)

Our Voyage is not over yet, as the two following short story collections are also considered part of Verne’s series:

  1. Le Docteur Ox (Doctor Ox, 1874)
  2. Hier et Demain (Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1910) (posthumous, with stories completed or modified by Michel Verne)

As we talking about shorter works, following is the list of short stories released alongside one of the series’ novels:

– Les Forceurs de blocus (The Blockade Runners, published with A Floating City, 1871)
– Martin Paz (Martin Paz, published with The Survivors of the Chancellor, 1875)
– Un drame au Mexique (A Drama in Mexico, published with Michael Strogoff, 1876)
– Les révoltés de la Bounty (The Mutineers of the Bounty, published with The Begum’s Millions, 1879)
– Dix heures en chasse (Ten Hours Hunting , published with The Green Ray, 1882)
– Frritt-Flacc (Frritt-Flacc, published with The Lottery Ticket, 1886)
– Gil Braltar (Gil Braltar, published with The Flight to France, 1887)

More About Les Voyages Extraordinaires

Jules Verne’s influence and legacy

Sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury once observed, “We are all, in one way or another, the children of Jules Verne.” Jules Verne, who is regarded as a “father of science-fiction” with H.G. Wells, is the second most translated author in history, behind only Agatha Christie and coming before William Shakespeare.

Pioneering submarine designer Simon Lake wrote in his biography that “Jules Verne was in a sense the director-general of my life” and aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont cited Verne as his favorite writer.

Polar explorer Richard E. Byrd, the astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission, the pioneers of rocketry Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Robert Goddard, and Hermann Oberth, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, the world-renowned speleologist Édouard-Alfred Martel, and the French general Hubert Lyautey all drew inspiration from Jules Verne’s works in some way.

Verne had also a significant literary impact on a number of authors, including Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Blaise Cendrars, Jean-Paul Sartre, Marcel Aymé, René Barjavel, Georges Perec and Jean Cocteau. Arthur C. Clarke wrote that “Jules Verne had already been dead for a dozen years when I was born. Yet I feel strongly connected to him, and his works of science fiction had a major influence on my own career. He is among the top five people I wish I could have met in person.

Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson), has also said having a long-standing fascination with Captain Nemo, and with the sea in general, thanks to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and The Mysterious Island.

We can add many more names to the list as his influence on literary and scientific works is unmeasurable, and the man is also cited as a major influence on the steampunk genre.

Jules Verne’s Stories on Screen

Jules Verne was publishing one or two books annually, and even after he died in 1905, his work was still released regularly until his last original book in 1919. Even then, his stories were already considered classics and filmmakers didn’t wait to seize his work and produce adaptations.

Adaptations of Verne’s tales have been made as early movie shorts, serials, feature films, miniseries, and television shows, his stories retold through the years giving life to iconic characters such as Phileas Fogg and Captain Nemo.

Though not a direct adaptation of Verne, A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune, 1902) directed by French filmmaker Georges Méliès is considered one of the earliest science fiction films in cinema history and the first Verne’s adaptation as the film is inspired in part by From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon.

Around the World in 80 Days is one of his most adapted novels, starting in 1913 in Germany with a movie directed by Carl Werner followed by another adaptation in 1919 from Richard Oswald (both having disappeared). The most recognized adaptation of this novel was released in 1956. Directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Mike Todd, the movie starred David Niven as Phileas Fogg who attempts to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, Cantinflas as Passepartout, and Shirley MacLaine as Princess Aouda. They spared no expense to give life to this adventure, delivering a big spectacle that is now considered a classic.

Among other favorite adaptations of Verne’s books, we also have the 1954’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea featuring Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and Peter Lorre who was the third highest-grossing film of this year and is today considered an early precursor of the steampunk genre.

A few years later, James Mason finds himself in another Verne adaptation, this time playing Sir Oliver Lindenbrook in Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) where he goes to explore the depths of the Earth and finds commercial success. Though maybe less famous than the two previous movies cited, it is still established as the most successful adaptation of this book.

The end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties were certainly The Height of Verne’s adaptations, with Master Of The World (1961), Mysterious Island (1961), and In Search Of The Castaways (1962) among the noticeable adaptations.

Verne’s filmmaking continued in the next decades, with shifts in tones, animation, new aesthetics, and even pastiches, though few movies made an impact. Verne quite found its place on television with new adaptations in telefilms and miniseries in the nineties. When his works became public domain, it led to a resurgence of new adaptations and new visions representing the time period, including movies like Around The World In 80 Days (2004) and Journey To The Center Of The Earth (2008).

Jules Verne’s stories continue to inspire and be adapted in many forms for the screen.