Verniana — Jules Verne Studies / Etudes Jules Verne — Volume 12 (2020–2021) — 13–56

Jules Verne et l'Odyssée ou : La Revanche de Polyphème

Jean-André G. Vlachos

Abstract

Among the several sources that inspired Jules Verne when he composed Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, specialists never fail to mention Homer’s Odyssey. However, none of them has thought to examine the possibility that Verne could have borrowed from the epic and exploited for the needs of his own narrative, much more than the name of his hero and this general idea, after all not so original, of adventures at sea. The research I undertook, the results of which are related in this article, allow one to conclude that Verne preceded James Joyce by about fifty years. But also, and above all, to see that his own treatment of the material borrowed from the Odyssey is no less original and even no less subversive than that of the author of Ulysses, in so far as a more profound reading of the novel reveals its secret storyline: that of an anti-Odyssey.

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