Short summary - Penguin Island - Anatole France

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Penguin Island
Anatole France

In the preface, the author states that his only purpose in life is to write the history of the penguins. For this, he studied many sources, and above all the chronicle of the greatest penguin chronicler John Talpa. Like other countries, Penguinia has gone through several eras: ancient times, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, new and recent ages. And her story began from the moment when the holy Elder Mael, transferred by the wiles of the devil to the island of Alco, christened Arctic birds from the family of finger-footed, mistaking them for people due to deafness and almost complete blindness. The news of the baptism of penguins caused extreme surprise in paradise. Prominent theologians and theologians disagreed: some suggested giving the penguins an immortal soul, others advised to immediately send them to hell. But the Lord God commanded Saint Mael to correct his mistake - to turn penguins into people. Having done this, the elder dragged the island to the Breton shores. The devil was put to shame.
Through the efforts of the saint, the inhabitants of the island received clothes, but this did not at all contribute to the rooting of morality. At the same time, penguins began to kill each other for land, thereby claiming property rights, which meant undoubted progress. Then a census was carried out and the first States General were convened, which decided to relieve the noble penguins from taxes, placing them on the rabble.
Already in ancient times, Penguinia found her patron saint - Orberosa. Together with her roommate Kraken, she rid the country of the fierce dragon. It happened in the following way. The mighty Kraken, putting a helmet with horns on his head, robbed his fellow tribesmen at night and kidnapped their children. A sign came to Saint Mael that only a virgin and a fearless knight can save the penguins. Upon learning of this, the beautiful Orberosa volunteered to perform a feat, referring to her virgin purity. The kraken made a wooden frame and sheathed it with leather. Five boys were taught to climb into this structure, move it and burn tow so that a flame would burst out of the mouth. In front of the admiring penguins, Orberosa led the dragon on a leash like a submissive dog. Then the Kraken appeared with a gleaming sword and ripped open the monster's belly, from where the children who had disappeared before jumped out. In gratitude for this heroic deed, the penguins pledged to pay an annual tribute to the Kraken. Wishing to instill a beneficent fear in the people, he adorned himself with a dragon's crest. The loving Orberosa consoled the shepherds and bootes for a long time, and then dedicated her life to the Lord. After her death, she was canonized, and the Kraken became the ancestor of the first royal dynasty - the Draconids. Among them there were many wonderful rulers: for example, Brian the Pious gained fame by cunning and courage in war, and Bosco the Magnanimous was so concerned about the fate of the throne that he killed all his relatives. The magnificent Queen Crux became famous for her generosity - although, according to Ioann Talpa, she did not always know how to humble her desires with the arguments of reason. The end of the medieval period was marked by a century-long war between penguins and dolphins.
The art of this era deserves every attention. Unfortunately, penguin painting can only be judged by the primitives of other peoples, since penguins began to admire the creations of their early artists only after they were completely destroyed. From the literature of the 15th century. a precious monument has come down to us - the story of the descent into the underworld, composed by the monk Marbod, an ardent admirer of Virgil. When the whole country was still numb in the darkness of ignorance and barbarism, a certain Gilles Loiselier studied the natural sciences and the humanities with unquenchable fervor, hoping for their inevitable revival, which would soften morals and affirm the principle of freedom of conscience. These good times came, but the consequences were not quite what the Penguin Erasmus had imagined: Catholics and Protestants engaged in mutual extermination, and skepticism spread among philosophers. The Age of Reason ended with the collapse of the old regime: the king's head was cut off, and Penguinia was proclaimed a republic. Gripped by troubles and exhausted by wars, she carried her killer, General Trinco, into her own womb. This great commander conquered half the world, and then lost it, bringing the immortal glory of Penguinia.
Then came the triumph of democracy - the Assembly was elected, completely controlled by the financial oligarchy. Penguinia was suffocating under the weight of the expense of a huge army and navy. Many hoped that with the development of civilization, wars would end. Wanting to prove this assertion, Professor Obnubil visited New Atlantis and discovered that the richest republic had destroyed half of the inhabitants of Third Zealand in order to force the rest to buy umbrellas and suspenders from her. Then the sage bitterly told himself that the only way to improve the world is to blow up the entire planet with dynamite.
The republican system in Penguinia has given rise to many abuses. The financiers have become the real scourge of the country because of their arrogance and greed. Small merchants could not feed themselves, and the nobles more and more often remembered their former privileges. The discontented looked with hope at Prince Cruchot, the last member of the Draconid dynasty, who ate the bitter bread of exile in Delphinia. The soul of the conspiracy was the monk Agaric, who won over to his side Father Cornemuse, who had made a fortune in the production of St. Orberosa liqueur. The Royalists decided to use one of its defenders, Chatillon, to overthrow the regime. But the Dracophilic case was undermined by internal divisions. Despite the seizure of the Chamber of Deputies, the coup ended in failure. Chatillon was allowed to flee to Delphinia, but the wine race was confiscated from Cornemuse.
Shortly thereafter, Penguinia was shaken by a case of the theft of eighty thousand kopecks of hay reserved for the cavalry. The Jewish officer Piro was accused of having sold the wonderful penguin hay to cunning dolphins. Despite the complete lack of evidence, Pyro was convicted and placed in a cage. The penguins were imbued with unanimous hatred for him, but there was a renegade named Colomban, who spoke up in defense of the despicable thief. At first, Colomban could not leave the house without being stoned. Gradually, the number of pirotists began to increase and reached several thousand. Then Colomban was captured and sentenced to capital punishment. The angry crowd threw him into the river, and he swam out with great difficulty. In the end, Pirot was freed: his innocence was proven through the efforts of the judicial adviser Chaspier.
The new centuries began with a horrific war. The romance between the wife of the minister Ceres and the prime minister Vizier had disastrous consequences: deciding to do anything to destroy his enemy, Ceres ordered articles to devoted people that set out the belligerent views of the head of government. This caused the harshest responses abroad. The stock exchange machinations of the Minister of Finance completed the matter: on the day of the fall of the Vizier's ministry, the neighboring hostile empire recalled its envoy and threw eight million soldiers on Penguinia. The world drowned in streams of blood. Half a century later, Mrs. Ceres passed away, surrounded by universal respect. She bequeathed all her property to the society of Saint Orberosa. The apogee of the Penguin civilization came: progress was expressed in deadly inventions, in vile speculation and disgusting luxury.
Future times and history without end. The giant city employed fifteen million people. People lacked oxygen and natural food. The number of madmen and suicides grew. The anarchists completely destroyed the capital with explosions. The province has fallen into disrepair. The centuries seemed to have sunk into eternity: the hunters again killed wild animals and dressed in their skins. Civilization passed its new circle, and fifteen million people again worked in the gigantic city.