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.


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
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 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
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 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
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 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
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


Probably, Jules Verne’s mistake.

According to local historian (Professor Fedor Seleznev's lecture История Нижегородской ярмарки for Arzamas) the trade fair lasted for just one day before 1641, four weeks after that, and about six weeks from 1822, when new place was chosen, and new facilities were built:

Since then, the Nizhny Novgorod Fair has always opened on July 15, and ended on August 25 with the lowering of flags.

Other sources (anonymous Yandex Zen web channel неизвестная история) specify that

officially, the fair was held from July 15 to August 25, but in fact the trade continued until the beginning of September


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