Jules Verne: always topical

Captain Nemo, Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Centre of the Earth… Most of us are familiar with Jules Verne’s classics. Verne was popular among his contemporaries, and continues to be a significant figure in world literature.

Jules Verne’s works are probably among the most translated literature along with Shakespeare and Agatha Christie, states University Lecturer Kai Mikkonen.

New versions of Verne’s characters, such as Captain Nemo, Captain Hatteras or Phileas Fogg, are constantly being developed in different media.

19th century ecology

Mikkonen is one of the organisers of a seminar focusing on Jules Verne's works, to be held on 9 September. The seminar is open to the Verne-reading public. The idea for the seminar arose through cooperation between Mikkonen and Professor H. K. Riikonen, as they have both studied Jules Verne. Verne enthusiasts and researchers from different fields have been invited to speak at the seminar. Finnish translator Kristina Haataja will speak about the timelessness of Verne’s writing from a translator’s perspective, and LicPhil Essi Varis will discuss how Captain Nemo has been depicted in comics.

Professor Christian Chelebourg from the Université de Lorraine will examine Verne’s works as eco-fiction.

 – He intends to speak about Verne’s descriptions of the climate and environment, and discuss their significance in the light of our contemporary issues, Mikkonen explains.

Kai Mikkonen himself will speak about the relationship between fiction and scientific knowledge, particularly in Verne’s debut novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, as well as in the early stages of the series Voyages extraordinaires.

Researched, read and borrowed

According to Mikkonen, Verne has an established position in the French literary canon and study of literature, particularly 19th century popular literature and literature for young adults, as well as literary realism. Verne is still popular, and the themes arising from his work continue to be topical.

 – This seminar seeks to answer the question ‘Is Verne still topical?’ from many different angles.

In Mikkonen’s opinion, Verne can be seen as one of the founders of science fiction as a genre, and was probably also well known among contemporary Victorian steam-engine enthusiasts:

 – Verne is a prominent figure in the recent steampunk subculture, Mikkonen points out.


Organised jointly by the disciplines of French philology and comparative literature, the Jules Verne seminar will be held on 9 September beginning at 12.00 in room 2 of the Forestry Building. The seminar is open to the public.

Seminar programme:

Programme of the Jules Verne seminar, illustrated by Marko Turunen (in Finnish)