Jules Verne Forum



Rereading Bombarnac

From: Garmt de Vries <G.deVries~at~phys.uu.nl>
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005 13:55:41 +0200 (CEST)
To: Jules Verne Forum <jvf~at~Gilead.org.il>

Hi all,

In my scarce spare moments, I'm rereading Claudius Bombarnac, this time in
French. Although it's not a great adventure novel in the vein of 20K or
Grant, it does have its own charm, and I like it a lot better than I
thought I did.

Especially in the first half to two thirds of the story, there's not much
intrigue going on. Claudius meets a couple of people and visits a couple
of cities. But somehow it is precisely the lack of action that makes it
worthwhile, the story reads just like a series of newspaper articles. The
discussions about the British not connecting their Indian railroads to the
Asian network, about the Channel tunnel, about the laidback nature of the
Chinese, all that is a very good read.

I think Verne captures the newspaper reporter's style quite well. For
example, he mostly uses the present tense, rather than the passe simple.
That way it looks like Bombarnac is writing as he goes, and not telling
the story afterwards.

On the other hand, Bombarnac frequently complains that nothing is
happening. According to Robert Pourvoyeur, an opening scene about nothing
happening was one of the weak points in the play Keraban-le-Tetu. In
Bombarnac, it's perhaps the same. I don't mind if nothing happens, but you
had better not say so very explicitly all the time.

When things do start happening, it gets a bit theatrical, with all the
"unexpected" plot twists. I have the feeling that the reader is not really
supposed to trust Faruskiar after the first attack on the train, and that
Verne wants to make fun of his Claudius, who is actually a rather mediocre

I must say that the descriptions of the Chinese part of the itinerary are
a bit less vibrant than usual with Verne. Much of the landscape and of the
cities are only described very briefly, and they're not really used for
the plot. It feels as if Verne was not quite so familiar with this region,
and couldn't find many sources about it.

And of course I have to mention the references to earlier Verne works:
Caterna's performance in "Michel Strogoff" and the trip around the world
that baron Weissschnitzerdorfer tries to make in 39 days. A nice touch!

All in all, this is a novel worth (re)reading!

Received on Tue 12 Apr 2005 - 14:55:52 IDT

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