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Anatole France 





Penguin Island 

by Anatole France (1844-1924) 
translated by A.W. Evans 

An acute satire, written in the style of a 
sprawling 19th century history book, Penguin 
Island is about a fictitious island of great auks 
that exists off the northern coast of Europe. A 
wayward Christian missionary monk 
accidentally lands on the island and sees the 
great auks as a sort of Greek pre-Christian 
pagan society. Partly blind, he mistakes the 
animals for people and baptizes them. This 
mistake causes a problem for The Lord who normally only allows people to be 
baptized, so he resolves it by converting the great auks to people and giving them a 
soul. Thus begins the great auk history and from there forward the history mirrors 
that of France. From the Dark Ages, when the Germanic tribes incessantly fought 
among one another for territory; to the heroic rise of Charlemagne ("Draco the 
Great") and conflicts with Viking raiders ("porpoises"); to the Renaissance, and up 
to the modern era with motor cars, and even a future time in which a thriving high- 
tech civilization is destroyed by a campaign of terrorist bombings -- and everything 
starts again in an endless cycle. (Wikipedia) 

Total running time: 9:04:31 
Read by Michael Sirois 

acoustical liberation of books 
in the public domain Original photo of penguins by SeanMack 

Cover design by Kathryn Delaney