Announcing “Five Weeks in a Balloon” from Jules Verne

Wesleyan is pleased to announce its publication of the first complete English translation of Jules Verne’s debut novel from 1863, Five Weeks in a Balloon: A Journey of Discovery by Three Englishmen in Africa translated with introduction and notes by Frederick Paul Walter and edited by Arthur B. Evans.

One of the great “first novels” in world literature is now available in a complete, accurate English translation. Prepared by two of America’s leading Verne scholars, Walter and Evans, this edition honors not only Verne’s farseeing science, but also his zest, style, and storytelling brilliance. Initially published in 1863, Five Weeks in a Balloon was the first novel in the author’s Extraordinary Voyages series. It tells the tale of a 4,000-mile balloon trip over the mysterious continent of Africa, a trip that wouldn’t actually take place until well into the next century. Fusing adventure, comedy, and science fiction, Five Weeks has all the key ingredients of classic Verne: sly humor and cheeky characters, an innovative scientific invention, a tangled plot that’s full of suspense and surprise, and visions of an unknown realm. As part of the Early Classics of Science Fiction series, this critical edition features extensive notes, all the illustrations from the original French edition, and a complete Verne biography and bibliography. Five Weeks in a Balloon will be a prized addition to libraries and science fiction reading lists, and a must-read for Verne fans and steampunk connoisseurs.


Jules Verne (1828–1905) was the first author to popularize the literary genre that has become known as science fiction. Frederick Paul Walter is the translator of eight novels by Jules Verne. He is a former NPR scriptwriter and reference librarian, and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Arthur B. Evans is a professor of French at DePauw University and winner of the 2014 Cyrano prize for his scholarly contributions to the field of French science fiction. He has published numerous books and articles on Jules Verne and other early writers of French science fiction, serves as the managing editor of Science Fiction Studies, and is the general editor of Wesleyan’s Early Classics of Science Fiction series.

Publication of this book is funded by the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Praise for Five Weeks in a Balloon:

Five Weeks in a Balloon counts among the dozen Verne books that are the most interesting for modern readers and critics, and even in French, no annotated or critical edition has ever appeared. Walter is at the forefront of contemporary translators.”
—William Butcher, author of Jules Verne: The Definitive Biography

“A daring adventure with huge dollops of geographical, technological, and scientific information, touches of humor, and a slow build-up followed by one exciting incident after another. This is essential reading for Verneans as well as the go-to text for ordinary readers seeking an accurate translation of one of Verne’s most popular and significant novels.”
—Michael Dirda, author of Classics for Pleasure and On Conan Doyle