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by Anatole France, Trans. By A. W. Evans
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A foolish, old priest with weak eyes comes upon an island full of penguins. They look like people to him, so he baptizes them. This creates a crisis in heaven; God and the saints have to decide whether to give the penguins souls. From there France runs us through the history of the great penguin race, and if the birds weren't so venal and ridiculous, you too might mistake them for people. First published in 1908, this satire is certainly not contemporary, but it is, nevertheless, very fine stuff. France won the Nobel Prize, and this was considered his masterpiece. Frederick Davidson gives a strong, but conventional reading. B.H.C. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Penguin Island is a satirical novel by Anatole France first published in 1908. The book details the history of the penguins and is written as a critique of human nature, and is also a satire on France's political history, including the Dreyfus affair. Morals, customs and laws are satirised within the context of the fictional land of Penguinia, where the animals were baptised erroneously by the myopic Abbot Maël. The book is ultimately concerned with the perfectibility of mankind. As soon as the Penguins are transformed into humans, they begin robbing and murdering each other. By the end of the book, a thriving civilization is destroyed by terrorist bombs.
Text: English, French (translation)
Satire in which penguins become human via evolution.
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