Tribulations of a Chinaman in China
|Original title||Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine|
|Series||The Extraordinary Voyages #19|
Published in English
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Preceded by||The Begum's Fortune|
|Followed by||The Steam House|
Tribulations of a Chinaman in China (French: Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine) is an adventure novel by Jules Verne, first published in 1879. The story is about a rich Chinese man, Kin-Fo, who is bored with life, and after some business misfortune decides to die.
The book is a traditional adventure, similar in style to Around the World in Eighty Days, which is one of the author's more well-known books. However, it does contain more humour as well as criticism of topics such as the British opium trade in China.
Kin-Fo is an extremely wealthy man who certainly does not lack material possessions. However, he is terribly bored and when news reaches him about his major investment abroad, a bank in the United States, going bankrupt, Kin-Fo decides to die. He signs up for a $200,000 life insurance covering all kinds of accidents, death in war, and even suicide; Wang and Kin-Fo's fiancée are to be the beneficiaries. He rejects seppuku and hanging as means of dying, and is about to take opium laced with poison when he decides that he doesn't want to die without having ever felt a thrill in his life. Kin-Fo hires his old mentor, the philosopher Wang, to murder him before the life insurance expires.
After a while news reaches Kin-Fo that the American bank he had invested in was not bankrupt, but instead had pulled off a stock market trick and is now wealthier than ever. Unfortunately, Wang has already disappeared. Together with two body guards assigned by the insurance company, and his loyal but lazy and incompetent servant Soun, Kin-Fo travels around the country in an effort to run away from Wang and the humiliation from the affair.
One day he receives a message from Wang, stating that he can't stand the pain of having to kill one of his friends, and instead decided to take his own life while giving the task of killing Kin-Fo to a bandit he once knew. Kin-Fo, Soun and the two bodyguards now try to get to the bandit, planning to offer money in return for his life. The ship they travel with is hijacked, and they are forced to use their life vests with built-in sails to return to land.
After being kidnapped by the bandit they were looking for, they are blindfolded and returned to Kin-Fo's home, where his old friends (including Wang, who we now find out staged this entire history to teach him a lesson about how valuable life is) are waiting for him. He marries his young, beautiful fiancée after all and they live happily forever after.
A 1965 film starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Up to His Ears, was loosely based on this novel. In 1990, Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki directed I Hired a Contract Killer with a similar plot. Bulworth (1998), by and featuring Warren Beatty and Halle Berry, also seems to be inspired by the novel.
An English translation was serialized in The Leisure Hour in 1880.
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