Thanks for posting that review. Like most book reviews, it makes me feel I didn't get as much from the novel as I should have. (It also reminds me that I intended to read Jennifer Egan's book A Visit from the Goon Squad this year.)
I kept thinking that C was surfacing memories of something I've read before. One possibility is The Jade Cabinet by Rikki Ducornet. The other is one of the novels--but I don't recall which one--in the New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. Both deal with attempt to uncover the "Adamic" language prior to the Tower of Babel.
Yes, Jules Verne's stories are very popular, although more people know them from movies than from reading -- something that can be said about virtually any author. I read at least half a dozen of his novels as a teenager. His work is on a par with that of H. G. Wells in terms of popularity, and I've heard people confuse the two.
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