This recent question about a time discrepancy in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days reminded me of another time-related oddity I noticed towards the end of the novel.

Fogg and co. have been released by the police in Liverpool, and are heading to London at top speed to try and arrive at the Reform Club before 20:45, and so win the bet. However:

when Mr. Fogg stepped from the train at the terminus, all the clocks in London were striking ten minutes before nine.

Presumably the clocks in question were church clocks or other public timepieces. However, I have never encountered such a clock that sounds at ten minutes before the hour - they usually strike on the hour, on the half hour, and at the quarters. Was it the case that clocks commonly used to strike at ten minutes to, and fashions have changed? Or did Verne make a mistake here? Hearing the clocks striking quarter to nine would have been equally disastrous for the travelers, given that it would be impossible to get from the railway station to the Reform Club instantaneously, so there doesn't seem any dramatic reason to prefer 20:50 to 20:45.

  • It's not a problem with the translation: "Mais il y eut des retards forcés, et, quand le gentleman arriva à la gare, neuf heures moins dix sonnaient à toutes les horloges de Londres."
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Jul 9 at 11:28
  • I don't know either, but Pilip José Farmer famously wrote a science fiction pastiche, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, where he took this and other discrepancies and ran with them.
    – Herr Rau
    Commented Jul 9 at 15:08
  • 2
    Towle, in his translation, says of this sentence in a footnote that it is "a somewhat remarkable eccentricity of the London clocks!"
    – CDR
    Commented Jul 9 at 16:17
  • @CDR His tongue firmly in his cheek, I guess. Commented Jul 9 at 19:35


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