Last summer I was on a holiday trip in England with my family, during
which we visited London for one day. Of course I could not leave this
capital without having a look at the Reform Club and Fogg's house in
Savile Row (not Saville Row, as in some editions of Around the World). The
first thing I noticed when I was walking up the stairs to the enormous
front door of the well-known Reform Club, was the air of luxury that hung
all around the place. I told the porter that I was a Jules Verne collector
and that I was eager to see this Club in real, flattering him a little
("So this is the famous Reform Club, wow, this is really it, etc.").
Unfortunately the porter had his orders, although he was sincerely sorry
for me. But: "Strictly members only, I'm afraid, Sir," was the best I
could get out of the gentleman. I asked politely if I was allowed, then,
to make a photograph, but that was also strictly forbidden. No
photographs, no visitors, strictly members only. Meanwhile I had cast a
quick glance through the door. What I perceived was an extremely luxurious
interior, with portraits, giant stairs with copper and gold and satin
everywhere. I had my camera ready, but an old man with grey whiskers came
down and held his hand so as to prevent me from making a picture. They
were all very persistent, in any case more persistent than I was, so I
made a photograph of the door mat, with the Reform Club logo on it, and I
left. I doubt whether the members know their illustrious colleague. Of
course they wouldn't care much, because Fogg was invented by a French
My next goal was to see the house in which Phileas Fogg had lived.
I had noted the address at home: 47 Savile Row, London. Savile Row is an
old road, parallel to the very crowded and well-known Regent Street. Lots
of taylors have their residence here; they're all quite expensive. The
numbers in Savile Row were distributed at random, it seemed. Houses had
ben destroyed, houses had been built, and it was quite a mess. I looked
for no. 47 throughout the entire street, however. But no, I couldn't find
it. About 37 was as far as it went. I decided to ask one of the taylors,
so I went into a shop (Anderson and Co, established somewhere in the 19th
century) to ask if there was, or had ever been, a no. 47, Savile Row.
They thought not. The taylor knew the book vaguely; his opinion was that
the address was "probably fictitious".
In Prince's Street are many second-hand bookshops. I went into all of
them of course, and beside buying some books, I checked a good edition of
Around the World to see if Fogg's address was really 47. Surprise: in this
edition it was 7 ! Back to Savile Row, watch the house (nothing special,
just a dull front door next to some shops; it has probably known better
times) and take a photograph. Anyway, I was glad that I had seen Phileas'
house after all.
Does any of you know for sure what Fogg's original address must have
been? I have seen several editions, - I don't know if the one is better
than the other, - and it's always either 47 or 7. Maybe someone who has an
original first edition can give us exact info. It's always nice to visit
places where Jules' stories have played. I have looked for the Rjukanfoss
in Norway (The Lottery Ticket). There's a hydroplant in the Rjukan
nowadays. I have watched many sunsets to see the Green Ray, without
success. The old castle in Edinburgh still looks exactly the same as the
picture in Maitre Antifer. And a leaflet showeed Fingal's Cave precisely
from the same viewpoint as the picture in the Green Ray. I wasn't able to
visit it, unfortunately. I wish I had the time and the money to follow
Michael Strogoff or the Glenarvan expedition!
Now that I'm talking about tourism: if you ever come in the neighbourhood
of Nantes, you have to visit the Jules Verne museum, 3, rue de
l'Hermitage. Telephone (40) 749362. Open all days 10-12 h. and 2-5 h.
except Tuesdays. Warning: this info dates from some 7 years ago.
Received on Mon 04 Mar 1996 - 12:21:18 IST