Thursday, 14 January 2010

Planet of the Apes - Pierre Boulle

My husband reminded me when he got home yesterday, that one of the booklets he printed out for my smartpen didn't look right. Which seems to be why one page uploaded properly yesterday and the page with my book reviews didn't.

So, on to the review. First published in 1963, Planet of the Apes was considered a social fantasy. Three men from earth take a two year voyage (their time, it would be several hundred years earth time) to visit the Betelgeuse system. They land on one of the planets and discover that apes, not man, have risen to the top of the evolutionary chain.

The apes are obviously analogous to the former class system of France. The gorillas are the nobility, the ignorant orangutans (in charge of education though they refuse to teach modern science) the Catholic clergy, and the brilliant chimpanzees the masses.

One of the men from Earth, Ulysse Merou, manages to convince the apes that he is intelligent, starting off a string of events leading to a dramatic conclusion different from that of the film.

What is most apparent in the book however, is the arrogance of mankind (embodied in Ulysse), which cannot reconcile a state of life different from the known. In time Ulysse comes to disregard the differences between the apes of Soror and the humans of Earth. And yet he continues to believe that somewhere in the apes past there must have been clever humans.

Ulysse's character in the book is no more likable than Charlton Heston's Taylor from the movie, which caused problems for me reading the book. On the other hand, it's a short novel and has several points that make you think about humanity, where it's gone and where it might be going.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"It's a madhouse!"