Readers, this weekend Heather and I made an exciting discovery! While cleaning out my grandmother’s attic together, she and I stumbled upon something remarkable. We found a journal kept by my great-great-grandmother who lived in Victorian England and who also happened to be a close friend of Heather’s great-great-grandmother. They were both members of high society and well-known patrons of the arts and so moved in very influential circles. This journal contained pages and pages of interviews our ancestors had with famous Victorians. You can imagine our thrill at finding such a piece of history! I am very excited to share here my transcription of the first of many interviews, this one with Jules Verne!
Katherine’s Great-Great-Grandmother: A pleasure to meet you Jules – can I call you Jules? No, sounds too informal, let’s stick with Julia. It is a pleasure to meet you, Julia.
Jules Verne: Pardon me, madam, but my full name is in fact Jules. Julia is a woman’s name.
Jules Verne: Of course I am French! This is no secret.
Heather’s Great-Great-Grandmother: <calls into other room> Nix the tea! Bring something French, like croissants or something!
K’s GGG: Wait a second, Julian. If you are French, how come all of your books I’ve read have been in English?
H’s GGG: Yeah! We’ve run circles ’round you logically!
Jules Verne: Pardon me, madams, I am not sure I understand the question. The novels you have read, I must assume, are English translations. The original text is in French.
K’s GGG: I don’t understand…
H’s GGG: Alright, whatever, let’s just get a move on with this interview, shall we? You recently published the popular novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Jules Verne: Yes, and I am very proud of that work.
H’s GGG: After reading it, one thing has really been bothering me – what exactly is a league? Like, in inches? Give it to me in Imperial units. How many feet of King Henry III is in one of your 20,000 leagues?
Jules Verne: I have to admit, I find the British system of measurement a bit silly and arbitrary, but I will indulge you. A league is….<pauses to think> 218,736 inches or 18,228 feet.
K’s GGG: Wow, that’s a lot of steps for King Henry. There’s no way he could have held his breath that long.
H’s GGG: Yeah, this whole story sounds totally bogus. No one could walk underwater for 20,000 leagues!
K’s GGG: Yeah! Explain THAT, Julian.
Jules Verne: I’m sorry, it seems to me that you have entirely misunderstood my book. No one walks 20,000 leagues under the sea – the characters travel in a submarine. But do keep in mind, this was a work of fiction. Such a marvelous machine does not exist that I am aware of, though one day perhaps it will.
K’s GGG: Let’s talk about an earlier book of yours, From the Earth to the Moon. Now, I hope I don’t insult you with this question, Julia…
Jules Verne: You and I are of the same mind in that regard.
K’s GGG: You’re too kind. I have heard a number of elaborate and detailed conspiracy theories that argue that this whole launch to the moon was actually faked – that the illustrations in the book are daguerrotypes taken in a studio.
H’s GGG: In fact, the London Gazette called your book, “A marvelous work of FICTION.” What do you have to say to that, Mr. Verne?
Jules Verne: I do not know how to begin to address that question…
H’s GGG: You know what, Mr. Verne? We’ve had enough of your lies for one afternoon. Please take your croissants and leave us!
<End of manuscript>