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The New Phileas Fogg

The New Phileas Fogg

Inspired by Phileas Fogg, an academic treks across the globe without leaving his library in a hymn to the unifying power of literature.

 Reading is travel – an epic trek, a picaresque pursuit, a lyrical flight – and last year it offered release to those of us still itchy after a daily circuit of the local park. Housebound in London, I reread Dickens and wistfully accompanied his characters on their perambulations through a city that was out of bounds to me.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

David Damrosch, a Harvard specialist in comparative literature, projected himself further afield: when conference dates in Tokyo and a smattering of European venues were cancelled, he decided to circumnavigate the globe without leaving his library.

Damrosch took his cue from Phileas Fogg, the London clubman who speeds across continents and oceans in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Needing to win a wager, Fogg bribes drivers and pilots to increase their speed and desperately strips wood from a steamship in mid-Atl...

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