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Penguin Island by Anatole France

Penguin Island (1908)

by Anatole France

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6821321,119 (3.6)1 / 39

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English (12)  Finnish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I was very disappointed in this satire. The reviews I read made it sound hilarious. It wasn't. It was very dry and hard to get into. The Pyrot Affair was the best part as a condemnation of the justice system and a look at the mob mentality. I'm not sorry I read it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to read it again, or read anything else by France. I would give it 2-1/2 stars given the option. ( )
1 vote AliceAnna | Aug 13, 2014 |
An episodic satire about the penguin who were baptized by a half-blind priest and therefore granted human soul and form. Based on mostly the french history sadly I didn't get most of the inner jokes but still a funny twisted work about the past and the future of human history.... ( )
1 vote TheCrow2 | Sep 24, 2013 |
This is a wonderfully witty and thought-provoking novel that presents the history of the state of Pingouinie as an allegorical story of (mostly French) history. Reading the original French is definitely recommended as France's command of language is second to none, and his nuanced text proves a delight to read. While I know enough French history to pick up on many of the allusions, I am sure there are many more that would meet a more discerning eye, but there is much that is also a commentary on society in general. The book ends with a poignantly apocalyptic vision of the future that is, in many ways, the most beautiful and heart-rending part of the book, and rings even more true now, 103 years after it was written. ( )
1 vote Deinonychus | Nov 3, 2011 |
There is a risk with topical writing. The section "Modern times" builds on events that were current or recent at the time of writing, and today we remember only a vague reflection of a shadow of them -- and some perhaps were not terribly notable outside France anyway.

In general, Anatole France is portraying the follies, aggrandishments, vanities, and futilities of humanity through the ages with surprisingly small amount of caricature and satirising; the effect, however, is pretty strong still.

The work is episodic in nature, so it fits well with the modern short attention span; it can be faced in small spurts. ( )
1 vote ari.joki | Oct 25, 2010 |
A venerable priest, after being led astray by the devil to be wrecked on an island of penguins, mistakes the penguins for a (rather short) race of men, converts them and baptizes them.

Then, the Lord and many saints, including Saint Augustine and Saint Catherine, are faced with a problem. Are the penguins actually baptized? After some hilarious arguments, it is decided that form is more important than essence. Ie. that because God will only recognize baptisms, weddings, etc. of a certain form (speaking certain words in a certain sequence, in Latin - a kind of formula), He must recognize all such things that cohere to the form, despite whether or not they are right in essence. Hence, because the baptism, however wrong in essence, was performed in correct form, it is valid. To prevent further problems, the penguins are transformed into people.

The book is a mock-history of the people of Penguin Island. It satirizes many historical events, notably the Dreyfus affair. It's full of twisted logic (like the logic in the argument about whether or not the penguins were actually baptized) and, for each time period that it covers, imitates the writing style and the feel of the stories of those periods. For example, in the first couple of books, the devil makes frequent appearances while taking on the form of some other person.

Altogether, it's a funny enough read in and of itself (even if you're not familiar with the events that it's satirizing), but it's much better if you're in on the grand joke. ( )
4 vote Kryseis | Aug 26, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anatole Franceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cameron, MalcolmIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mael, a scion of the royal family of Cambria, was sent in his ninth year to the Abbey of Yvern so that he might there study both sacred and profane learning.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 146621693X, Paperback)

This anthology is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. For those who have known and loved these works in the past, this is an invitation to reunite with old friends in a fresh new format. From Shakespeare s finesse to Oscar Wilde s wit, this unique collection brings together works as diverse and influential as The Pilgrim s Progress and Othello. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

This 1908 satire of human nature and culture—including a famous episode inspired by the Dreyfus affair—concerns an island of great auks whose avian inhabitants, mistakenly baptized by a nearsighted missionary, are transformed into human beings by God, who is eager to rectify the embarrassing error.… (more)

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