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Penguin Island Paperback – December 18, 2007
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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
So begins France's straight-faced satire of the church, the state, and anything else he can think of. First, the innocents must clothe their nakedness. This creates modesty for them, but also creates immodesty, lust-inducing arts of skirt and bodice, and avarice for finer clothes and baubles. Next, they develop property law, proven by disputes over farmland. They create a noble class, when one demonstrates his nobility by killing another penguin and taking his land. They create a royalty, by means of fraud and extortion. They even create their first saint, the miraculous virgin Ste. Orberosia. She seemed best known for her miraculous virginity, which she proclaimed until her dying day (and we don't argue with saints). In fact, she was able to proclaim her virginity even after dozens or hundreds of encounters that would have destroyed it in less holy a woman - miraculous indeed. Perhaps the penguins weren't born subject to Original Sin, but they're mighty quick with the imitation.
The History of Penguinia moves forward, through ages of avarice, adultery, elaboarate scams, false accusations, and all the usual goings-on of the political world. The events are painfully funny, right down to the cynical, cyclical view of modern times, locked into an historical rhythm. The views are painful only because they're so very true.
I imagine they would have been even more true for me if I knew more about the political current events of France and Europe circa 1900, when this book was being written.Read more ›
The conceit is that a group of penguins are inadvertently baptised by a half-blind saint. There follows a deliciously Jesuitical debate in Heaven over whether they now deserve souls. It turns out that they do. But please to ask a member of the aforesaid order on exactly how the logic of all this parses. It's altogether too abstruse for me!
There are other very delicious parts. But, the writing becomes a bit sloppy in points. France frequently forgets his conceit of the nation of Penguinia and calls it what it is: France. Also, too much of the book is devoted to The Dreyfus Affair (herein called Pyrot).
But the book is short enough that one shouldn't allow the unevenness to stand in the way of licking one's lips over jeux d'esprit such as the following declaration by Doctor Obnubile:
"The wise men will collect enough dynamite to blow up this planet. When its fragments fly through space an imperceptible amelioration will be accomplished in the universe and a satisfaction will be given to the universal conscience. Moreover, this universal conscience does not exist."
Have a blast!
The book is at times difficult to read, and it is often hard to follow because of the plethora of characters. Nevertheless, it is a tremendous work of imagination and is unlike anything I have read before.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great, hilarious rewriting of France's history and the French people as penguins converted by a Christian saint that made the she penguins to dress up and thus, inadvertently,... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Marcos A. Hardy
The book is not readable in large portions. It's useless to me. I can't remember what I paid.Published 16 months ago by Scooter
Off to a slow start. Continue reading and you will find amazing parallels to present political situations.Published 18 months ago by Steven R. Wyte
Humorous story and an to Easy read. Great book.
This is a great gift for anyone with some religious knowledge as it includes familiarity with Christianity.
Not everything old is good. I didn't make it past the third chapter before I lost interest in whatever the story was about. Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by Cap'n Stoob
totally improbable situation studded with tenuous dialogue. yuck!!! In my opinion this author was really reaching when he selected this subject and plot(?).Published on July 30, 2013 by Amazon Customer
You like authors poking fun at the church, this is the book for you. A venerated, yet near-sighted monk baptizes a flock of penguins. Read morePublished on July 29, 2013 by Michael Johannes
It is a classic that most everyone should read. I was really happy to be able to find a quality reprint of the book.Published on July 21, 2013 by D. Wargo
I liked how the book started out actually describing the penguins as penguins, i even liked some of the stories about the penguins after they changed, but most of the stuff... Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by Amazon Customer