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Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne

Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863)

by Jules Verne

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Showing 5 of 5
Ontdekkingsreis in de binnenlanden van Afrika
  edjemacoil | Mar 8, 2014 |
Ontdekkingsreis in de binnenlanden van Afrika
  edjemacoil | Sep 10, 2011 |
This is my second time reading a book by Jules Verne, and I'm glad it wasn't my first. It was a decent story, marred primarily by a very racist view of the African people (and to a lesser extent, of Arabs) and a few very implausible stretches of reality. This was written ten years before the first work of his I read, Around the World in Eighty Days. That book was much better written and I enjoyed it immensely. All said, this still wasn't bad considering it was Verne's first book, even if at times all I could think was that he must have been paid by the word to write this. ( )
  cargocontainer | Feb 25, 2011 |
Originally released in French in 1863; first published in English in 1890 (English translation by William Lackland). First in Verne's Extraordinary Voyages series. Full title: Five Weeks in a Balloon, or, Journeys and Discoveries in Africa by Three Gentlemen.

In this first of Verne's adventure novels, you can start to see the mix of ingredients which would later make him so popular: adventure, exotic locations, entertaining dialogue between the principal characters, and a pinch of science (or pseudoscience) tossed in. In Five Weeks in a Balloon, there are just three principal characters: Dr. Samuel Ferguson, his man servant Joe, and his friend, sportsman, Richard "Dick" Kennedy. Dr. Ferguson and his companions launch upon an unprecedented journey across the continent of Africa in a hot-air balloon filled with hydrogen of Ferguson's design. The three characters face many trials and dangers on their journey, from threats of starvation, less than cooperative weather and wind currents, capture by dangerous African tribes, and even condors threatening to rip their balloon apart.

Verne's writing style overall is a nice and easy one to follow, although at times he tosses in historical details which some might find themselves skipping over. Interest in Africa was still high at the time Five Weeks came out as the continent had not yet fully been explored and Verne's novel fully demonstrates this.

Most disconcerting (and at times outright uncomfortable) is the very negative stereotypes of the African natives, which would be completely unacceptable by today's standards. For a work written in the early 1860s, while the Civil War was raging over in the U.S., it probably should not be all that surprising, but that realization does not make it any the more pleasant.

Outside of this aspect, however, I found Five Weeks to be an enjoyable read. While certainly not his best, I imagine (this is the first Verne novel I've read, I believe), it was worthwhile to go back and start reading his works from the beginning in order to see how they developed as he went along. (Read as part of my "1860s to 1920s" project.) (Finished reading 8/31/09) ( )
3 vote YoungTrek | Sep 5, 2009 |
Acquired at Hay-on-Wye
  joanneb | Jun 15, 2008 |
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There was a large audience assembled on the 14th of January, 1862, at the session of the Royal Geographical Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London.
As for difficulties, they were made to be overcome; as for risks and dangers, who can flatter himself that he is to escape them?
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Fabian, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Red Buttons race across uncharted African territory in a unicorn-shaped balloon.

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