Monday, February 08, 2010


The fellow above is one Jules Verne, our second hero of this particular day, was born this day 1828 in Nantes, France. Nantes was a bustling port city during his childhood, and he and his brother would often rent a boat for a franc a day. When he was 12 he stuck onto a steamer bound for India, but was soon caught and severely whipped by his father. This led him to claim that "from now on I will only travel in my imagination." And what an imagination it was. After finishing lycee, he moved to Paris to study law. Notice how many of my heroes start out studying law? It is a disturbing trend, and a sad commentary on my own life that they at least wound up as writers of fame, and talent while I still practice law. Like a few heroes before him Verne suffered for his art. His father, once he found out his son was trying to be a writer instead of a lawyer, withdrew his financial support. It seems the purse strings where cut for a writer. Verne was forced to support himself by becoming a rather successful stock broker, a job that he hated despite his talent for it. But it was writing which was to make him famous, and his meeting with Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important publishers in France, was to provide the launching pad for Verne's career. Hetzel was to help Verne improved his writing, even helping him change some of the sad endings that Verne originally wrote to happy endings. I guess the reading public loved a happy ending. I also suppose that in order to get published a happy ending could be squeezed out, and a sad one replaced. Hetzel was soon publishing two volumes of Verne's work a year, and the stories that we all associate with Verne (20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Around the World in 80 days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, etc, etc) were published by Hetzel. It was about this time that Verne wrote "Paris in the 20th century" a futuristic, dark novel, that was quite pessimistic in tone. Hetzel convinced Verne to delay publishing by twenty years. However, the manuscript was placed in a safe, and forgotten under discovered by a great-grandson, and only published in 1993. Verne's writings predicated many inventions that we take for granted today, he predicated/wrote about helicopters, jukeboxes, submarines, and projectors. His writings have suffered a great deal from translation, and have been said to be unsuitable for adults. But, in my opinion, Captain Nemo is one awesome character no matter what your age. So, for creating that Nobody in his submarine, and writing a ton of other fine work, Jules Verne (February 8th, 1828- March 24th, 1905, of diabetes, at the age of 77), you are my (166th) hero of the day.

No comments: