Jules Gabriel Verne, born 8th February 1828 in Nantes (France), was the son of a successful lawyer, and one of a family of adventurous and traditional seafaring people; one factor which influenced his literary works, and would eventually make him regarded him as 'The Father of Science Fiction'. As a child, Verne ran away from home to be a cabin boy on a merchant ship, and found a small boy on his travel to the port. The boy told Verne that he 'had to leave his family to go and work on a ship, and he really didnt want to do that', so Verne offered to take the boy's place 'in the hope that he would embark upon a great adventure'. Verne's Father managed to locate and stop the ship before it had a chance to travel too far from the port, and Verne was abruptly taken home to be punished! After his punishment, Verne promised his family that, from that moment on, he would only travel in his imagination; a promise that he managed to fulfil until he was responsible young man.

Throughout his childhood Verne had always dreamed of writing plays, and in 1847, he travelled to Paris in search of realising his childhood dream. Officially sent by his parents to study Law, Verne spent most of his time in Paris frequenting local theatres, and soon became friends with the playwrights employed within these establishments, in particular, one Alexander Dumas. Dumas was the author of many adventure stories that captured the young man's vivid imagination and inspired Verne to compose an adventure story of his own, and was greatly encouraged and supported by Dumas.

Initially, Verne struggled with the story, and his success was by no means immediate. Life was hard for Verne; married to Honorine de Viane in 1857, and the father of two children whom he had to support, his lack of scientific knowledge made the writing of his debut manuscript an even greater challenge. Verne ritualistically woke early every morning to study and research for his book before going to work to support his family. Eventually, once Verne felt that he had gained enough knowledge of the various sciences, he began to utilise his mornings writing his story instead of researching it. Once the manuscript was complete, Verne contacted many Publishers, but his personal masterpiece was constantly rejected -that was until he contacted Hetzel, the one publishing house that was interested in his work.

The original literature underwent much scrutiny and many changes by the editors, but was finally published by Hetzel in 1863, titled 'Cinq semaines en ballon', or 'Five Weeks in a Balloon'. When news that Verne had spent his time writing and publishing a book reached his family, Verne's father was outraged, and discontinued the money that was being sent to him in order to cover expenses for 'studying Law'. This forced Verne to try and make a living from selling his stories, and made him even more determined to succeed in his career as a writer.

The partnership that developed between Verne and Pierre-Jules Hetzel made Verne's career as a writer much easier, and he was requested to complete a series of works, 'Voyages Extraordinaire' for the publisher. Verne's first book, 'Five weeks in a balloon' became the first of this series, and many of his most well known and well loved works such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in 80 Days attained enough success to allow the Verne/Hetzel association to grow and endure Verne's entire career.

Defined as 'a short story that anticipated his later work', the research into geology, engineering and astronomy that Verne had done for 'Cinq semaines en ballon' was both concise and eminently accurate;

"Verne used his knowledge of science to write a book about people going to the moon. He knew that it took very great speeds to leave the earth's gravitational pull, speeds of almost 36,000 feet per second. So in his book, Verne's heroes made a 900-foot cannon and shot themselves to the moon. Verne gave great consideration to details, timing, speed, and coarse. He had professors check his work so everything would be perfect. All this made his story believable." Big Dreams, Small Rockets by Patricia Lauber

Verne's life in Europe was reasonably free of war and major social disturbances, and he enjoyed vast financial success and remained comfortable throughout his career. Advancing age and a regular writing schedule of at least two volumes a year eventually manifested itself in the 'normal decline of optimism and adventurism into pessimism and fatalism', and the last novel written by Verne was titled The Invasion of the Sea. Verne died, literally with quill in hand, at 15:10 on March 24th 1905 in Amiens, France. He is interred in La Madeleine Cemetery, Amiens.

The works of Jules Verne:
(Non Exhaustive)

1863 - Five Weeks in a Balloon
1863 - Paris in the Twentieth Century
1864 - Journey to the Centre of the Earth
1865 - From the Earth to the Moon
1867 - The Children of Captain Grant (aka In Search of the Castaways) (3 vols; South America: Mysterious Document, Australia: On the Track, New Zealand: Among the Cannibals)
1869 - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
1869 - Round the Moon
1871 - A Floating City
1872 - The Adventures of Three Russians and Three Englishmen in South Africa
1873 - Around the World in 80 Days
1873 - The Fur Country (2 vols; Sun in Eclipse, Through the Bering Strait)
1874 - The Mysterious Island (3 vols; Dropped From the Clouds, Abandoned, Secret of the Island)
1875 - The Survivors of the Chancellor
1876 - Michael Strogoff: Courier of the Czar
1876 - Off On A Comet (2 vols; Anomalous Phenomena, Homeward Bound)
1877 - The Black Indies (aka The Underground City)
1878 - A Captain at Fifteen
1879 - Begum's Fortune
1879 - The Tribulations of a Chinese Gentleman
1881 - The Giant Raft (2 vols; The Cryptogram, Down the Amazon)
1882 - The Green Ray
1882 - School For Crusoes
1883 - Keraban the Terrible (aka The Headstrong Turk) (2 vols; Captain of the Guidar, Scarpanthe the Spy)
1884 - The Archipelago on Fire
1884 - The Vanished Diamond
1885 - Mathias Sandorf
1886 - Lottery Ticket: #9672
1886 - The Clipper of the Clouds
1887 - The Flight to France
1887 - North Against South (aka Texar's Vengeance) (2 vols; Burbank the Northerner, Texar the Southerner)
1888 - Two Year Vacation (2 vols; Adrift in the Pacific, Second Year Ashore)
1889 - Family without a Name (2 vols; Leader of the Resistance, Into the Abyss)
1889 - Topsy-Turvy
1890 - Caesar Cascabel (2 vols; Travelling Circus, Show on Ice)
1890 - The Steam House (2 vols; Demon of the Cawnpore, Tigers and Traitors)
1891 - Mistress Branican
1892 - The Castle of the Carpathians
1892 - Claudius Bombarnac
1893 - Foundling Mick
1894 - The Miraculous Adventures of Captain Antifer
1895 - The Floating Island
1896 - Clovis Dardentor
1896 - For the Flag
1896 - The Superb Orinoco
1897 - An Antarctic Mystery
1899 - The Will of an Eccentric
1900 - Second Country (2 vols; Their Island Home, Castaways of the Flag)
1901 - The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz
1901 - The Village in the Treetops
1901 - The Sea Serpent
1902 - Travelling Grants
1902 - The Brothers Kip
1904 - Master of the World
1905 - The Invasion of the Sea

After Verne's death, many of his unfinished works were edited, expanded, attributed and published by his son, Michel Verne, and many of Verne's works have been the source of Hollywood films.

http://www.underthesun.cc/Classics/Verne/
http://www.online-literature.com/verne/
http://www.encyclopedia.com/articlesnew/13421.html
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15358c.htm
Bibliography taken in part from http://members.tripod.com/~gwillick/biblio/vernebib.html and remains the work of the original author

The Jules Verne is also the Mont Blanc 2003 Writer's Edition limited edition fountain pen. It is a writing instrument that is perhaps designed more to be owned than to be used; however, it's difficult to hold that against it. WARNING: I bought one of these, and therefore, this is a biased review.

Description

The Jules Verne was manufactured in both fountain pen and rollerball variants by Mont Blanc; it was sold (still is, as of this writing) either as an individual pen or in sets comprising one pen of either type with a pencil variant. This review describes the fountain pen, of which 16,500 were made and individually numbered. I own pen #7,469. 14,500 rollerballs were made.

The pen itself is quite heavy. It is done in deep blue lacquer, with a guilloche pattern on the barrel and cap set within the coating which is reminiscent of ocean waves, especially when the pen is turned under light. The highlights of the instrument are of platinum-plated steel, contributing to the weight. The screw-on cap, which is quite heavy of its own accord, has a single understated decorative bevel on one side, suggestive of a porthole. Engraved on the cap, next to the mounting for the clip, is the pen's serial number; opposite the clip is an engraved facsimile of Jules Verne's signature.

The nib is 18-karat gold, plated with rhodium for rigidity. Completing the nautical allusions of the pen's design, the nib has a fine engraving of a 19th-century diver's helmet on it. The top of the cap is black resin, into which is set the traditional ivory Mont Blanc six-pointed star.

Experience

Although I've only owned this pen a short while (a few weeks) I have made a point of carrying it about as a daily writing pen for much of that time. Admittedly, part of this is due to my needing to show it off; partly, however, it is because I hold some notion that I own fountain pens to write with them - and write with them I do. It nestles quite comfortably in my T-shirt pocket or from my shirt collar; the screw-on cap and unitary barrel ensures that (unlike some of my other pens) it is almost impossible for this pen to separate and fall from my shirt.

Filling the pen is a new experience for me. All my pens to date have been cartridge-fill pens which accepted reservoir converters; filling them has involved removing the barrel and manipulating the converter itself. This pen, however, cannot accept cartridges, and is only piston fill. To fill the pen, the steel cap at the back of the barrel is unscrewed several turns. This depresses the piston into the reservoir, decreasing the available space within; the nib is then dipped into the inkwell, and the screw cap is tightened. This retracts the piston, pulling fresh ink through the nib into the reservoir. A prudent user will then hold the nib just above the surface of the ink and 'unscrew' the cap again until ink begins to dribble from the breather hole on the nib; at that point, invert the pen and tighten the cap the remainder of the way. Then, when the pen is re-inverted to write, any air left in the reservoir will shift to the back.

So far, I have only used Mont Blanc black ink. This ink is not my favorite, after having used it for a few weeks; it is a tad 'cooler' in tone than I'd like; it runs a bit, bleeds slightly, and has almost no waterfastness. The bottle is really well done, however, with a fill well at the front! I plan on buying some nice Pelikan or Aurora blue-black and refilling the Mont Blanc bottle with that ink.

Although my pen has a 'Fine' nib, I'd be forced to call this more of a 'Medium.' I am told by those more experienced with fountain pens than I that Mont Blanc nibs are a bit bendy and hence allow more ink to flow, making a wider line. The weight of the pen likely doesn't help here. By the time I purchased mine, more than halfway through 2004, stocks of this pen were quite low, and I had to have one shipped in; they were unable to find an Extra-Fine in the channel, and Mont Blanc's offer to replace the nib with the size of your choice anytime during the year of issue had, unfortunately, expired.

On the plus side, however, there is a great deal to like about this pen. It is a commanding presence in the hand; even I, who like my pens heavy, have had to avoid placing the cap on the back of the barrel during use as that makes it simply too top-heavy. Without the cap, however, it's just right for me - heavy, but not overbearing, and with the weight nicely balanced between thumb web and fingertip. Although I thought a manual-fill pen would be a pain, it's not - it actually outlasts the cartridges, and more importantly, the action of the reservoir ensures that there is always fresh ink near the nib. The formation of a slight vacuum in the cartridge during use tends to cause the ink in my other pens to 'withdraw' from the nib while they are in storage, leaving the nib and channel to dry out quickly and gum up. Irritating. Not so the Jules Verne; the one time I left it alone for a week, it produced a smooth, beautiful line the moment I touched it to paper.

The nib is slowly 'breaking in' to my hand. I have noticed that in recent days, my handwriting has started to acquire more variety of line widths, indicating that either I am learning the weight of the pen or that the nib has started developing 'learned' bends along my usual writing angles - or, more likely, both. I recently wrote a letter, entirely by hand, for mailing to a friend...something I haven't done in, oh, years. It was a pleasure, and much of the pleasure was due to this pen. I have, I will admit, been stopped once on the street and asked if that was, in fact, a Jules Verne (one of the 'advantages' of living in a snotty intellectual burg) which led to fifteen minutes of companionable pen chat.

Summary

Would I recommend this pen? I don't know. I don't think I'd recommend paying what I paid for it (I paid U.S. retail 'street' at an authorized dealer - you can look it up). I'm of the firm opinion that there are reasons to pay more for objects of quality, especially instruments one will use; however, in this pen's case, I think that I could easily find a pen that performed as well for perhaps $250 or so. I think a great deal of the price is strictly for the ivory star on the cap and the 'limited edition' number on the hardware. Other pen companies make (in my opinion) better pens; while this is certainly one of the best pens I own (if not the best, which it may be) it is also far and away the most expensive. Why did I purchase it? A good question, which has several answers...a gift certificate to the Mont Blanc store being one of them! Also, having a bad week, needing to pamper myself, yada, yada. Lots of rationalizations. I didn't own a Mont Blanc, and felt that I should at least have one, if I was going to have pens. Sure, I should probably have just gone and gotten the Meisterstück 149 standard, but that pen is made of resin and is incredibly light. I hate light pens. (Update: okay, I'm wrong. I now have a Lamy 2000, which is a light Makrolon-bodied pen, for everyday writing, and I love it entirely too much. I still hate light Mont Blancs, though...maybe it's just that they look too pompous to not have any heft behind them?)

Besides, how could I not own a pen named for the 'Father of Science Fiction?'

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.