So the twist at the end is (the question title should be spoiler warning enough) that the heroes arrive in London a few minutes too late to reach the club for the deadline of the wager, so they go to Fogg's home certain that they have lost, only to learn on the next morning that they actually arrived a day early, a day they gained by passing the International Date Line while travelling eastwards.

Now while this is correct in that you would in fact gain this extra day (in exchange for all the other days of your travels being shorter), is it even remotely realistic for the travellers to be unaware of the "real" current date at that point? As I understand it, they would have had to be purely counting days since passing the International Date Line, and crossed through the USA without ever noticing that the date (and weekday!) the locals use is different from their own calendar reckoning. That seems very unlikely.

Is this adressed in the book in any way, or just glossed over to make the twist work?

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    @Mithrandir: neither the question nor the answer address my point: that Fogg gained this extra day when he passed the International Date Line in the middle of the pacific and from then on (for an entire two weeks) was mistaken about the current date and weekday - and it seems unrealistic that he would during this whole time never notice this when talking to local people, especially on a transcontinental train ride. Jan 4, 2017 at 11:06
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    That's why it's not a duplicate.
    – Mithical
    Jan 4, 2017 at 11:06
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    Not a dupe. Off-topic because not about sci-fi or fantasy, just like the last time it was asked.
    – Valorum
    Jan 4, 2017 at 11:15
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    Yep, this book isn't really sci-fi or fantasy. Save your question for Literature SE if/when that site is created :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 4, 2017 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


There are a few points which make it more plausible.

  • The international date line runs through the Pacific, precisely because this is the longitude where there is the least land mass and and an abrupt change in date is least likely to cause inconvenience. Because they were travelling east the remaining overland leg of the journey was quite short across the USA and it only took them 15 days to get from San Fransisco to London.

  • By this point in the story the original carefully planned schedule has broken down so they are focused on getting back to London as quickly as possible by any means they can.

  • From Yokohama onwards their sea travel is very ad-hoc and Fogg ends up buying a freighter outright for the final leg so they wouldn't have had the normal routine of a passenger vessel and he isn't on a scheduled voyage with tickets and arrival dates which would have made the date mistake much harder to gloss over.

  • The date line transition occurs in the middle of a long and very eventful sea voyage so much easier to lose track of days.

  • Because of the nature of the challenge the focus will be on counting days as they are thinking in terms of elapsed time rather than the date especially with the eventful and incident-filled nature of the journey.

  • For Europeans travelling the world at this time there would have been an expectation that their normal routine would be disrupted. Similarly a lot of the date cues they would have been used to like newspapers and shop opening times would have been missing.

  • The nature of Fogg's personality is that he would tend to automatically trust his own count of the date. He is described as being precise, punctual and unsocial with a very fixed personal routine. Even when the error is pointed out to him in the book he takes a lot of convincing.

  • The best explanation seems indeed that they're counting days and not paying as much attention to the intended arrival date. Jan 31, 2017 at 15:19
  • Does this mean that the journey actually lasted for 81 days? Dec 13, 2019 at 12:08

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