Deeper into Jeopardy! XXXIII: French Lit – $800

Jeopardy! category: FRENCH LIT (11-12-2014)

$800 clue: “Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours” is the French title of this 1873 book

Correct response

The gist: The French like their adventure stories, even if this one is a little further-reaching than yesterday’s

Science-fiction and adventure pioneer Jules Verne’s 1873 Around the World in 80 Days is considered not only one of his best works (others include 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Centre of the Earth, and many, many more, all known under the umbrella category of Voyages Extraordinaire) tells the story of Phileas Fogg and his valet Jean Passepartout (“skeleton key”) who set off on a circumnavigational race against time after making a bet with a fellow London Reform Clubber. Traveling east from London, they travel across central Europe to south heel of Italy where they board a ship heading for Suez, Egypt. While there, they gain a tail in the form of Detective Fix, who takes Fogg for a bank robber on the run. They reach Bombay (today’s Mumbai), India ahead of schedule, and board the newly built railway that spurred the wager in the first place, but are delayed when they rescue a woman, Aouda, being forced to undergo sati, who becomes their traveling companion, and when they need to hire a mahout to cross the last 50 miles without railways. Next, they sail from Calcutta (today Kolkata) on India’s eastern shore to Victoria, a major British settlement on Hong Kong, where Fix drugs Passepartout in an opium den, causing him to get on the planned ship to Yokohama, Japan, but neglecting to find Fogg before he does so. Fogg and Aouda take a ship to Shanghai and then another to Yokohama, where they find Passepartout working in a circus to earn his fare back home to England. They cross the Pacific to San Francisco, California, where begins their adventure across North America, which includes being delayed by a giant herd of bison, Passepartout’s capture by and subsequent rescue from a band of Sioux warriors, and a period of travel by wind-powered sledge to Omaha, where they board a train for New York City. Fogg is forced to pay a huge sum of money to get passage across the Atlantic on a ship headed for Bordeaux, France, and after setting sail he bribes the crew to mutiny and take him to England instead. Despite his efforts, though, the elements conspire against him, and he’s forced to spend the last of his wealth to buy the ship from the captain mid-voyage, letting the crew burn anything wooden to keep the engines turning against the wind. They reach Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, and board a train for London in time to beat the clock, but are arrested by Fix once back on British soil, although the actual robber had been apprehended three days earlier. With that delay, Fogg believes he has missed the deadline, but Aouda confesses her love for him and they go to wed – where they discover that, because they crossed the International Date Line (not yet standardized when the book was written) going east, the date was actually one day earlier than they had believed. The three rush to the Reform Club and claim their winnings, and live happily ever after.

(Please note the absolute lack of balloon travel.)

Cover of the book’s original 1873 Edition

The clue: Do you know any French? If you do, this one should be a cinch, even though the French title doesn’t translate directly to the English – if you know “monde” is “world” and “quatre-vingts jours” is “80 days,”* that ought to be enough for anyone. The 1873 year also gives a bit of context for what period you ought to be thinking in. But if you have absolutely no idea what the French means, that year isn’t going to get you to the correct response, of course.

In Jeopardy!: The novel is mentioned in 37 regular clues and one FJ! clue int he J!Archive. Surprisingly, just 25 of them mention the author by name – the writers seem to be more concerned with the plot of this one than its historical context. Fogg is mentioned in 17 clues, and Passepartout in just three. There are also five clues about movie adaptations of the book – both the Oscar-winning (including Best Picture) 1956 version starring David Niven, and the 2004 movie with Steve Coogan as Fogg and Jackie Chan as Passepartout. Fogg and a general understanding of what goes on in the book will let you get almost all of the clues about it. But remember, no balloons! Those are only in later adaptations. If it’s a Verne book and it involves balloons, it’s probably the lesser-known Five Days in a Balloon, which has been the correct response just once, but lost a contestant quite a bit of money on a bad Daily Double! wager.

*If you’re interested in why French expresses 80 as “quatre-vingts” (literally “four-twenties”) instead of having its own number name, as well as some other linguo-numerical curiousities, check out this episode of Slate’s linguistics podcast, Lexicon Valley.

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