Anatole France

Penguin Island

A myopic saint mistakenly baptizes some penguins, ushering in a centuries-spanning satire of French history.

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Penguin Island, published by Anatole France in 1908, is a comic novel that satirizes the history of France, from its prehistory to the author’s vision of a distant future.

After setting out on a storm-tossed voyage of evangelization, the myopic St. Maël finds himself on an island populated by penguins. Mistaking them to be humans, Maël baptizes them—touching off a dispute in Heaven and ushering the Penguin nation into history.