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In Jules Verne, Michel Strogoff, part 1 chapter 5, when Michel arrives to Nijni-Novgorod, there's a huge trade fair going on in the city. The text seems to give two contradictory numbers about how long the trade fair is.

Nijni-Novgorod, qui en temps ordinaire ne compte que trente à trente-cinq mille habitants, en renfermait alors plus de trois cent mille, c’est-à-dire que sa population était décuplée. Cet accroissement était dû à la célèbre foire qui se tient dans ses murs pendant une période de trois semaines.

[later]

Tel était l’aspect de la plaine, tel il devait être pendant les six semaines que dure ordinairement la célèbre foire de Nijni-Novgorod.

Why do these two numbers differ? What am I misreading?

(You can find the text of the novel online on Wikisource, and also on Project Gutenberg).

I have originally noticed this contradiction in the Hungarian translation Sztrogof Mihály, Pesti Szalon Kvk. (1994), ISBN:963834024X, translated by Supka Géza, edited by Gerencsér Zsuzsa. This translation doesn't always stick to the meaning of the original text, but in this case it does have both numbers. I show the relevant quotes below.

Nyizsnyij Novgorod, melynek lakossága általában nem több, mint harminc-harmincötezer lélek, ebben az időszakban több mint háromszázezret számlált, tehát megtöbbszöröződött. Ennek az oka pedig a híres vásár volt, mely három hétig tartott a város falai között.

[…]

Ősrégi szokás szerint még az is megesett ezen a hat hétig tartó Nyizsnyij Novgorod-i vásáron, hogy […]

The English translation by Agnes Kinloch Kingston and the one found on Project Gutenberg does not mention a duration the second time in the text, so it does not have this contradiction.

  • 1
    Reading about the fair on the Russian Wikipedia, maybe the duration changed over time: "In 1666 merchants came to the fair not only from all over Russia, but also from abroad, and it lasted 2 weeks." but then in the 19th century "The duration of the fair was more than a month: the flags were raised on July 15 and dropped on August 25." – Rand al'Thor Aug 25 '17 at 19:38
  • @Randal'Thor The novel doesn't tell when exactly the story happened, but it's definitely after 1817 (chapter 5 says the fair was moved to Nijni-Novgorod), and probably significantly before 1876 (when the novel was published). – b_jonas Aug 25 '17 at 20:38
  • @Randal'Thor Almost all the dates are given only relative to the year: I believe Michel arrived to the fair on July 16 and left on the next day. – b_jonas Aug 25 '17 at 20:46
  • There's also a confusing passage in the (Google-translated) Wikipedia page: "The duration of the fair was more than a month: the flags were raised on July 15 and dropped on August 25. But this auction began in August and lasted until early September." So something lasted for ~6 weeks and something else laster for 2-3 weeks. We might need a Russian speaker to make sense of it. – Rand al'Thor Aug 25 '17 at 21:19

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