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Pingviinien saari

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,548 ratings  ·  183 reviews
"Vaikka saattaa näyttää siltä kuin minä olisin suuresti huvitettu kaikenmoisista asioista, niin on elämälläni ainoastaan yksi päämäärä. Sen kaikki voimat keskittyvät erään laajan suunitelman toteuttamiseen. Minä kirjoitan Pingvinian historiaa. Teen sitä työtä uupumatta, pelkäämättä vaikeuksia, joita sattuu hyvin usein ja jotka usein tuntuvat voittamattomilta."

Suomentanut J
Published 1924 by Kustannusosakeyhtiö Kansanvalta (first published 1908)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
L’Île des Pingouins = Penguin Island, (1908), Anatole France

Penguin Island (1908) is a satirical fictional history by Nobel Prize–winning French author Anatole France. Penguin Island is written in the style of a sprawling 18th- and 19th-century history book, concerned with grand meta-narratives, mythologizing heroes, hagiography and romantic nationalism.

It is about a fictitious island, inhabited by great auks, that existed off the northern coast of Europe. The history begins when a wayward Chri
L.S. Popovich
A surprisingly lackluster fantastical satire from Anatole France, the Nobel winner who brought us dozens of French classics. Of the books of his which I've read, this might be the weakest in my opinion. Whereas Thais's prose sparkled like Flaubert's, the writing here is safer. There are moments of great philosophical insight, but it is difficult to take the subject matter seriously. France does not commit fully to fantasy or to Realism and straddles the two awkwardly. He is not really talking ab ...more
Jul 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lit-fic
Not acually about penguins. The French are crafty like that.
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I read this 100+ year old book, I was amazed at how all the current arguments regarding politics, society and wealth inequality are simply the recycled dreck of yesteryear. The book itself is an allegory of mankind’s history told through the story of certain penguins inadvertently baptized by a bumbling monk and thereafter turned into humans by a God who has grown somewhat soft in his old age. The author is clearly an atheist, but he is not as mean spirited as most modern adherents to the Cul ...more
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, I am staying at the Baroness Hotel in Seattle for a few days and I found this book in my room. Wow! Am I glad I picked it up. It said it was a satire, but it was much better than that. It was a French satire of someone who lived in the Gilded Age.

This means anyone who supports Bernie Sanders would really appreciate some of the satire. It also sends up religion, politics, property rights, war, etc. I just loved it. One reason is how it was written. Maybe it's because it's French. (Those peop
“As if men could live in society without disputes and without quarrels, and as if civil discords were not the necessary conditions of national life and progress… The progress of civilization manifested itself among them by murderous industry, infamous speculation, and hideous luxury.”

Penguin Island is not about penguins, but it is about history. It is a cynical retelling of the human history commenced in the era before pre-history to the modern ages, done in satire. It is certainly s
Jamie Elliott
When a bumbling priest accidently baptizes a population of penguins, God is left with a cosmic problem. The solution results in the creation of the Penguin race, and is the beginning of the long history of Penguinia.

Anatole France has essentially written an entire farcical history book, satirizing various stages of human civilization. First he mocks early religion and mythology, prominently featuring the exploits of a saucy and quick-witted young woman, who in later Penguin history will be know
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Satire
Shelves: favorites
Anatole France is proving to be one of my favorite authors. In Penguin Island, he pokes fun at human civilization through satirically inventing a new race of people out of penguins baptized by a blind priest. As he traces their history, I was quite taken with how prophetic France was; many of his clever teases still hold true today. And France knows how to end a book. This is the second time my overall opinion of the entirety was increased upon reading the last few sentences (just like The Revol ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't believe I missed this...what could be more fun than hearing God and St. Augustine debate the merits of giving human souls to a group of penguins who were mistakenly baptized by an old monk whose eyesight was failing? ...more
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-anima

Originally published in French in 1908, this A. W. Evans translation was illustrated by Frank C. Papé in 1925 for John Lane The Bodley Head LTD. in London, and Dodd, Mead, and Company in New York. My bookshelf proudly displays a small smattering of other Papéstrated works alongside Penguin Island, including Lives of the Twelve Caesars and a two-volume Gargantua and Pantagruel. They are treasured.

Penguin Island concerns itself with nothing less than the founding, fabricating, fermenting, f
A partially sighted priest baptizes a bunch of penguins, because he thinks they are short pagans who need to be saved through Jesus Christ. This causes a commotion in Heaven, resulting in God transforming the penguins into humanoids and giving them souls. End of part 1 of 8. The rest of the book describes the history of the Penguin People's civilization, which is a satire of real human history.

When I first heard about this book - I'm not sure when or where - I thought it sounded so mad that I ha
A ton funnier than I expected.
A blind old monk accidentally lands on an island inhabited solely by pingouins (a word which, though used colloquially modern French for what we in English consider Antarctic penguins, actually refers to Great Auks, a cause of great confusion in my elementary school days as penguins are actually manchots - this is hilariously mentioned in the introduction).
Being blind and deaf and maybe mad, but very pious, he blesses and baptizes this strange race of want he
Czarny Pies
May 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History undergraduates.
Recommended to Czarny by: Nobel Prize Committee
Penguin Island is a brilliant satire of the political Right and the Catholic Church in the Third Republic of France when the Dreyfus affair was at its height. Anatole France attacks several easy targets with brio.

He does a wonderful retelling of the Dreyfus affaire. Dreyfus' alter-ego is a Jewish merchant charged with stealing fodder sold to the army by a Catholic aristocrat and never delivered to the army. Emile Zola makes his appearance and the cover-up of the fabrication of the charges again
Nov 05, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Gerry



Mael, a scion of a 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. At the age of fourteen he renounced his patrimony and took a vow to serve the Lord. His time was divided, according to the rule, between the singing of hymns, the study of grammar, and the meditation of eternal truths.

A celestial perfume soon disclosed
Nobody is this smart anymore, so don't even try to read this unless you're a complete egghead. It went sailing right over my head -- woooo! Almost as boring as The Late George Apley, which I also read a modern library edition of. I'm beginning not to think too much of their choice of books to publish.

Anyway this is a satire of human society, mostly political and religious aspects thereof. It starts off great: an aged monk, St. Mael, nearly blind, baptizes a flock of king penguins when he gets st
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would help in the understanding of this book and to get a full appreciation of the writing if the reader was acquainted with the history of France. This book is a satire on religion, history of France and in particular the Dreyfus Affair and government scandals that came afterwards and just prior to World War l.It mentions bombings and the anarchists which happened around that time, but also can apply to happenings in the world, nowadays.
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
France doesn't bash the reader over the head with a mallet screaming THIS IS SATIRE like Swift or Voltaire. Rather, like an acupuncturist, he inserts finely crafted needles into your skull - one for Catholicism, one for socialists, one for royalists, one for industrialists, one for the military, and so on. No one escapes his fine needles. A wonderful read. ...more
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read this, I was taking AP Euro, I could match up every event that France described with the actual one.
I think that's the best way to read it, you have to know how to interperet it.
And because of that, I thought it was hilarious.
I'm reading a lot more Anatole France.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg. ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
The premise of France’s novel is a little better than his execution: a senile, blind old monk stumbles upon an island of penguins and mistakenly baptizes them as people. This causes a brief crisis in heaven among God, the saints, and the “learned men” (one of France’s little jokes is that all the truly learned men are in hell because of their "heresy," leaving heaven devoid of true brain power), who conclude that the best idea would be for God to transform the penguins into humans.

So begins the
Lori Schafer
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most brilliant books I have ever read. The initial premise concerns a fictional Saint Mael, an avid proselytizer whose travelling boat one day through the work of the devil is carried off to a distant frozen tundra. The good but aged and impossibly near-sighted Saint, finding himself surrounded by quiet, well-behaved men of short stature, proceeds to lecture and then baptize his newest batch of converts, unaware that they are not men, but penguins. This naturally creates an up ...more
Jan Štumberger
The story itself is interesting, but the translation is subpar - even if you don’t speak French.
Would’ve been 4/5, had the translation been better.
maybe i would have liked this better if i were a provincial lady in 1910s france
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant satire of human history. The commentaries from this more than a hundred year old work aligns neatly with the current socio-political discussions. The illuminating fictionalised account of the Dreyfus Affair is an added bonus
Carol Apple
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An elderly missionary monk boards a stone boat and floats off course in a violent storm, ending up on an island in the North Sea inhabited only by penguins - which are really probably meant to be great auks. Mistaking them for a diminutive race of pagan humans the monk baptizes the entire population, an event that causes a great quandary in heaven about what to do now about the eternal destiny of creatures baptized as Christians but lacking a soul with free will. After a hilarious philosophical ...more
Nostalgia Reader
Feb 24, 2017 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nostalgia Reader by: The Dictionary of Imaginary Places
Shelves: buzz-complete
Too religiously allegorical for me. I know it's supposed to be satire, but I'm just not getting it. A bit too obscure, even for me. ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anatole France manages, with a highly disturbing prescience and insight, to paint an ironic reality on which all the long road of history's logic is put on trial. For this he uses a self: pseudo interested in the truth about the Penguin nation, baptized by a saint (Mael) and thus transformed in human form, a world in which he plays the respectful scholar, borrowed in the archives, who feed the need to understand and respect the Penguin nation's legends and official narrative thread (like the one ...more
Terry Garner
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best Nobel Prize winning books, and sadly, one of the most forgotten. Beautiful plot. While it can be tedious sometimes, the fact A. France explores so many different aspects of human nature--even some of the less interesting aspects--is amazing.
Jerry Pogan
This is a satire that makes fun of religion (primarily the Catholic Church) and the history of France. It is an amusing tale that starts with a priest mistakingly baptizing a colony of penguins forcing God to turn them into humans and the story takes off from there.
Michael Haase
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If you're planning to purchase this novel, be sure that the copy you intend to buy includes the astounding illustrations of Frank C. Papé:

The novel is brilliant per se, but I must admit, much of my enjoyment came from anticipating such fantastic artwork at the end of every chapter. The Dover Thrift edition is a good copy to get in English as it includes the drawings and is very cheap.

To briefly sum up the novel, it recapitulates the history of Europe (especially France) from the introduction of
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921 "in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament."

Anatole France began his career as a poet and a journalist. In 1869, Le Parnasse Contemporain published one of his poems, La Part de Madeleine. In 1875, he sat on the committee which

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