French literature summaries - 2021
Short summary - Hector Servadac
Jules Gabriel Verne
A comet touches the Earth and drags away several of its pieces. Captain Hector Servadak, his orderly Ben-Zuf, the Russian Count Timashev and others are forced to organize their lives in new conditions.
The captain of the French army in Algeria, Hector Servadak, argues about the favor of a young widow with the Russian count Vasily Timashev, who arrived at the Algerian coast on the schooner Dobrynya. They schedule a duel for the next morning. Servedak kills time by talking with his orderly Ben-Zuf and writing poetry. Ben Zouf, whose real name is Lauren, is from Montmartre, Paris.
In the evening, while walking along the coast, Servadac notices a strange red light breaking through the clouds. Soon, an unknown force throws him and Ben-Zuf to the ground, giant waves rise, an incomprehensible radiance appears in the sky, and the moon seems to change in size. Servadak and Ben-Zuf understand that the sun rises in the East, the earth's gravity has decreased, and the length of the day has decreased by six hours. Algeria is now at the equator, where the sun's rays fall vertically.
The heroes notice that they are alone on the island, which they call "Gourbi". The air pressure dropped noticeably. The Earth's axis no longer points to the North Star, but to the star Vega in the constellation Lyra. Within two weeks, the temperature rises markedly. The earth seemed to be moving closer to the sun. They move towards Venus and Mercury. Friends fear the collision of the Earth with Mercury. The distance with Venus is increasing. Ben-Zuf charters a ship, which turns out to be the Dobrynya. Count Timashev and the crew have no idea what kind of disaster has occurred.
The Count and Sewardak cross the Mediterranean to find out what happened. Apart from the island of Gorbui, they do not find any other land. The symmetrical seabed is covered with gold dust. In the sea, they discover a rock on which is the tomb of St. Louis. Part of the British garrison on Gibraltar survived. Soldiers do not want to leave their posts.
A leather case from a telescope floats in the sea, in which the heroes find a message. The sender writes about Galileo's comet and its movement through the solar system. Meanwhile, the Earth passes Mars and approaches Venus and Saturn. Uranus also falls into their field of vision. The air temperature is slowly rising.
Nothing remains of the French coast. Where Corsica was, they find the small island of Magdalena, on which eight-year-old Nina is with a goat.
Returning to Gourbi, the heroes meet several Spaniards and a Jewish merchant from Germany. Isaac Hakhabut left Cologne on his fishing boat to start trading in the Mediterranean. On the way he was attacked by the Spaniards.
Meanwhile, the Earth is moving away from the Sun, and the temperature begins to drop. The heroes decide to move to an island where they saw an active volcano. The warm springs of the volcano can be used for heating, and the heroes stay on the island. Most likely, the comet is a huge asteroid.
Dobrynya and Hansa freeze in front of the island. Travelers learn from a message that a dove delivered to them on the island that an unknown sender is on one of the Balearic Islands, and he is threatened with starvation. With the help of a skiff, they rebuild the skiff and rescue the sender, who calls himself the former physicist Palmerin Rosette von Servadak.
He explains that they are on a comet that has taken a couple of rocks with it when it hit the Earth. Rosette observed the catastrophe and calculated that the comet's trajectory would cross the ecliptic and collide with the Earth. Using weights, Rosette calculates the mass of the comet, which he later corrects. According to his calculations, Galileo's comet is 70% Tellurium and 30% gold.
Meanwhile, the comet crosses the orbit of Jupiter. Travelers see with the naked eye the satellites of the giant planet Europa, Io, Ganymede and Callisto. Then Saturn swims ahead of them. Rosette sees eight satellites and rings. Both ships are bound by pack ice. The volcano, meanwhile, pauses its activity, the lava seems to have found another outflow into the comet.
People have to go deeper and deeper into the crater of the volcano. As the comet enters even further into the solar system, Sewardak and Ben-Zuf set out to raise the flag over the remnants of Zeita and find soldiers from Gibraltar there. They inform the British that they are on a comet and offer to move to them in order to prepare for a new comet collision with the Earth. The British refuse.
Russian lieutenant Procopius suggests that the colonists in a balloon leave the surface of the comet before the collision. The warmer sea takes them to the ice floe, upon collision with which the ships die. The explosion destroys the part of the comet that holds Gibraltar and the soldiers.
The heroes who did not have time to build a balloon, after the disaster, again find themselves near the city of Mostaganem. On Earth, no one noticed the comet. Former colonists are welcome. Nobody believes their stories about a journey in the near-solar world.