"A POLITICAL FICTION AS WELL AS A PROPHECY": ANATOLE FRANCE'S ISLAND OF THE PENGUINS, SCARCE 1908 FRENCH FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL WRAPPERS
FRANCE, Anatole. L'Ile des Pingouins. Paris: Calmann-Levy, (1908). Octavo, original yellow printed paper wrappers. Housed in a custom portfolio and slipcase. $2600.
First edition, regular paper issue, of the Nobel Prize-winner's "celebrated satire," scarce and desirable in the original wrappers.
Starting with the mistaken baptism of penguins by the myopic Abbot St. Mael (and the associated debates in Heaven about the divine status of penguins) through the founding and subsequent fall of the empire of Penguinia, France's critique of human nature satirizes modern political history (including the Dreyfus affair), the Church, the military, and contemporary morals, customs and laws. "Celebrated satire in which a population of penguins mistakenly baptized by a nearsighted saint is given human form by God and recapitulates the course of human history" (Barron). "L'Ile des Pingouins is a political fiction as well as a prophecy. It parodies French society with the description of an entire nation where wealthy capitalists exploit a helpless proletariat. In an apocalyptic vision of the future, France imagines this nation destroyed by a succession of explosions whose fumes choke all life. Slowly, however, a new civilization develops, but it turns out to be exactly like the first" (Pribic, 130). Text in French. Issued simultaneously with 75 numbered copies on Japan vellum and 125 numbered copies on Holland paper. Barron 5-112. Four-page auction advertisement from Paris, 1939 (noting the present copy, presumably) laid in.
Wear and toning to slipcase. Interior clean; spine toned, with short splits to front joint at spine ends. Near-fine in the scarce original wrappers.