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Galápagos (English Edition)
 
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Galápagos (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Kurt Vonnegut
3.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Chapter One


The Thing Was:

One million years ago, back in 1986 A.D., Guayaquil was the chief seaport of the little South American democracy of Ecuador, whose capital was Quito, high in the Andes Mountains. Guayaquil was two degrees south of the equator, the imaginary bellyband of the planet after which the country itself was named. It was always very hot there, and humid, too, for the city was built in the doldrums--on a springy marsh through which the mingled waters of several rivers draining the mountains flowed.

This seaport was several kilometers from the open sea. Rafts of vegetable matter often clogged the soupy waters, engulfing pilings and anchor lines.

. . .

Human beings had much bigger brains back then than they do today, and so they could be beguiled by mysteries. One such mystery in 1986 was how so many creatures which could not swim great distances had reached the Galápagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic peaks due west of Guayaquil--separated from the mainland by one thousand kilometers of very deep water, very cold water fresh from the Antarctic. When human beings discovered those islands, there were already geckos and iguanas and rice rats and lava lizards and spiders and ants and beetles and grasshoppers and mites and ticks in residence, not to mention enormous land tortoises.

What form of transportation had they used?

Many people were able to satisfy their big brains with this answer: They came on natural rafts.

. . .

Other people argued that such rafts became waterlogged and rotted to pieces so quickly that nobody had ever seen one out of sight of land, and that the current between the islands and the mainland would carry any such rustic vessel northward rather than westward.

Or they asserted that all those landlubberly creatures had walked dry-shod across a natural bridge or had swum short distances between stepping-stones, and that one such formation or another had since disappeared beneath the waves. But scientists using their big brains and cunning instruments had by 1986 made maps of the ocean floor. There wasn't a trace, they said, of an intervening land mass of any kind.

. . .

Other people back in that era of big brains and fancy thinking asserted that the islands had once been part of the mainland, and had been split off by some stupendous catastrophe.

But the islands didn't look as though they had been split off from anything. They were clearly young volcanoes, which had been vomited up right where they were. Many of them were such newborns out there that they could be expected to blow again at any time. Back in 1986, they hadn't even sprouted much coral yet, and so were without blue lagoons and white beaches, amenities many human beings used to regard as foretastes of an ideal afterlife.

A million years later, they do possess white beaches and blue lagoons. But when this story begins, they were still ugly humps and domes and cones and spires of lava, brittle and abrasive, whose cracks and pits and bowls and valleys brimmed over not with rich topsoil of sweet water, but with the finest, driest volcanic ash.

. . .

Another theory back then was that God Almighty had created all those creatures where the explorers found them, so they had had no need for transportation.

. . .

Another theory was that they had been shooed ashore there two by two--down the gangplank of Noah's ark.

If there really was a Noah's ark, and there may have been--I might entitle my story "A Second Noah's Ark."

Chapter Two



There was no mystery a million years ago as to how a thirty-five-year-old American male named James Wait, who could not swim a stroke, intended to get from the South American continent to the Galápagos Islands. He certainly wasn't going to squat on a natural raft of vegetable matter and hope for the best. He had just bought a ticket at his hotel in downtown Guayaquil for a two-week cruise on what was to be the maiden voyage of a new passenger ship called the Bahía de Darwin, Spanish for "Darwin Bay." This first Galápagos trip for the ship, which flew the Ecuadorian flag, had been publicized and advertised all over the world during the past year as "the Nature Cruise of the Century."

Wait was traveling alone. He was prematurely bald and he was pudgy, and his color was bad, like the curst on a pie in a cheap cafeteria, and he was bespectacled, so that he might plausibly claim to be in his fifties, in case he saw some advantage in making such a claim. He wished to seem harmless and shy.

He was the only customer now in the cocktail lounge of the Hotel El Dorado, on the broad Calle Diez de Agosto, where he had taken a room. And the bartender, a twenty-year-old descendant of proud Inca noblemen, named Jesús Ortiz, got the feeling that this drab and friendless man, who claimed to be a Canadian, had had his spirit broken by some terrible injustice or tragedy. Wait wanted everybody who saw him to feel that way.

Jesús Ortiz, who is one of the nicest people in this story of mine, pitied rather than scorned this lonesome tourist. He found it sad, as Wait had hoped he would, that Wait had just spent a lot of money in the hotel boutique--on a straw hat and rope sandals and yellow shorts and a blue-and-white-and-purple cotton shirt, which he was wearing now. Wait had had considerable dignity, Ortiz thought, when he had arrived from the airport in a business suit. But now, at great expense, he had turned himself into a clown, a caricature of a North American tourist in the tropics.

The price tag was still stapled to the hem of Wait's crackling new shirt, and Ortiz, very politely and in good English, told him so.

"Oh?" said Wait. He knew the tag was there, and he wanted it to remain there. But he went through a charade of self-mocking embarrassment, and seemed about to pluck off the tag. But then, as though overwhelmed by some sorrow he was trying to flee from, he appeared to forget all about it.

. . .

Wait was a fisherman, and the price tag was his bait, a way of encouraging strangers to speak to him, to say in one way or another what Ortiz had said: "Excuse me, Senor, but I can't help noticing--"

Wait was registered at the hotel under the name on his bogus Canadian passport, which was Willard Flemming. He was a supremely successful swindler.

Ortiz himself was in no danger from him, but an unescorted woman who looked as though she had a little money, and who was without a husband and past childbearing, surely would have been. Wait had so far courted and married seventeen such persons--and then cleaned out their jewelry boxes and safe-deposit boxes and bank accounts, and disappeared.

He was so successful at what he did that he had become a millionaire, with interest-bearing savings accounts under various aliases in banks all over North America, and he had never been arrested for anything. For all he knew, nobody was even trying to catch him. As far as the police were concerned, he reasoned, he was one of seventeen faithless husbands, each with a different name, instead of a single habitual criminal whose real name was James Wait.

. . .

It is hard to believe nowadays that people could ever have been as brilliantly duplicitous as James Wait--until I remind myself that just about every adult human being back then had a brain weighing about three kilograms! There was no end to the evil schemes that a thought machine that oversized couldn't imagine and execute.

So I raise this question, although there is nobody around to answer it: Can it be doubted that three-kilogram brains were once nearly fatal defects in the evolution of the human race?

A second query: What source was there back then, save for our overelaborate nervous circuitry, for the evils we were seeing or hearing about simply everywhere?

My answer: There was no other source. This was a very innocent planet, except for those great big brains.

Chapter Three


The Hotel El Dorado was a brand-new, five-story tourist accommodation--built of unadorned cement block. It had the proportions and mood of a glass-front bookcase, high and wide and shallow. Each bedroom had a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass looking westward--toward the waterfront for deep-draft vessels dredged in the delta three kilometers away.

In the past, that waterfront had teemed with commerce, and ships from all over the planet had delivered meat and grain and vegetables and fruit and vehicles and clothing and machinery and household appliances, and so on, and carried away, in fair exchange, Ecuadorian coffee and cocoa and sugar and petroleum and gold, and Indian arts and crafts, including "Panama" hats, which had always come from Ecuador and not from Panama.

But there were only two ships out there now, as James Wait sat in the bar, nursing a rum and Coca-Cola. He was not a drinker, actually, since he lived by his wits, and could not afford to have the delicate switches of the big computer in his skull short-circuited by alcohol. His drink was a theatrical prop--like the price tab on his ridiculous shirt.

He was in no position to judge whether the state of affairs at the waterfront was normal or not. Until two days before, he had never even heard of Guayaquil, and this was the first time in his life he had ever been below the equator. As far as he was concerned, the El Dorado was no different from all the other characterless hostelries he had used as hideouts in the past--in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in San Ignacio, Mexico, in Watervliet, New York, and on and on.

He had picked the name of the city where he was now from an arrivals-and-departures board at Kennedy International Airport in New York City. He had just pauperized and deserted his seventeenth wife--a seventy-year-old widow in Skokie, Illinois, right outside Chicago. Guayaquil sounded to him like the last place she would ever think of looking for him.

...

From School Library Journal

YA Leon Trout, the ghost of a decapitated shipbuilder, narrates the humorous, ironic and sometimes carping decline of the human race, as seen through the eyes and minds of the survivors of a doomed cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Vonnegut's cast of unlikely Adams and Eves setting out in a Noah's ark includes Mary Hepburn, an American biology teacher and recent widow; Zenji Hiroguchi, a Japanese computer genius (who does not make it to the ship, although his language-translating and quotation-spouting computer does); his wife, Hisako, carrying radiated genes from the atomic bombs; James Wait, who has made a fortune marrying elderly women; and Captain Aolph von Kleist. Also included: six orphaned girls of the Kana-bono cannibal tribe, who will become the founding mothers of the fisherfolk after bacteria render all other women infertile. Serious fans of Vonnegut's wry and ribald prose will welcome this tale of the devolution of superbrained humans into gentle swimmers with small brains, but others may find this Darwinian survival tale too packed with ecological and sociological details that trap the story line in a series of literary devices, albeit very clever ones. Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School, Upper Marlboro, Md.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1210 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 338 pages
  • Editeur : RosettaBooks (21 août 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005IHWBZC
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Galapagos 21 mai 2014
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This is the only Kurt Vonnegut book I have read. This was an experiment as I could download it. I'm very glad I didn't spend a great deal on it and would not recommend it to anyone.
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 une nature encore intacte 3 janvier 2005
Par "crazyvj"
Format:Broché
coucou!alors quelques informations: ce guide contient des informations très complètes; un bon début pour tout "galapagos-fan":-),qui souhaite s'introduire dans le monde fantastique de ces îles.Les Galapagos possèdent une faune et une flore sans précédent et encore intactes! par la suite , je vous conseillerez tout de même de vous procurer un ouvrage plus illustreé,qui vous permettra de vous immerger dans l'univers des galapagos
bonne lecture...^-^
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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  203 commentaires
37 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Galapagos aint half bad! 25 mai 2001
Par Jason - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I'm really surprised to see so many people who consider Galapagos to be one of Vonnegut's worst novels. I love his work and I've read many others... I have to say Galapagos is one of my favorites. On the surface, the unconventional style is great. It's told from a million years in the future, with events revealed in non-cronological order. This nonlinear storytelling really drives home Vonnegut's philosophies about the meaninglessness of time (as in Slaughterhouse Five and Sirens of Titan, for example). Also, the grandiose nature of his plot is great. The end of the world and the human race as we know it... typical Vonnegut, but still good stuff. Above all, this book is very funny. As in his other books, he treats such serious matters as war and death lightly. This underlying irony is very present in Galapagos. However, Galapagos is by no means a "light" book. The subtlest twinge of sadness peeks through all of the humor -- just enough sadness to leave an impact. On another level, Galapagos is great for its concept. The human race is only screwing itself over, and it's about time it starts going backwards again. The pessimism of it all is delightful, yet rings true. My one gripe with Galapagos is its weak character development. In a way this is OK, as it reinforces the message of the human race as a lost cause. However, it would have been nice to have someone, anyone, to sympathize with. But in the end Galapagos is interesting, funny, unconventional, and just a great read.
25 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An author that grows on you.... 8 avril 2002
Par therosen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Vonnegut is an author that really grows on me. Galapagos is the latest novel that I've read, and (like the rest of his) immediately becomes my favorite.
The premise of the book is that humanity is going to make an enormous change of genetic course due in part to it's own stupidity. The onion is peeled, and the story reveals more about the problems in humanity while following the story of the future common parents of mankind.
The book maintains several consistencies with Vonnegut's other works:
- A witty style that covers sharp criticism. (Like they've said of Twain, "They'd hang him if they thought he was serious")
- A satire that's sometimes obvious, but sometimes hiding behind the story.
- Cameos by characters from his other books.
- A solid criticism of modern societyu
37 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 My Big Brain . . . 20 février 2007
Par CV Rick - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
You know what my big brain told me to do? It told me to read all the Vonnegut I could get my hands on, and my big brain finally got something right. More social commentary from the master of fiction with a message, Galapagos tells the story of the last band of humans and how they evolve, absent technology.

What's the cause of all human misery? An oversized brain, which brings up the book's tagline - My Big Brain Told Me To . . .

What would humans be like without this oversized brain? What would the earth be like without a species with an oversized brain? These are the questions Vonnegut explores in depth.

As usual, Vonnegut's narrator is a master satirist with a rambling tone who seems to be going in wrong directions, but ties all threads together brilliantly. In this book, the narrator is the son of Kilgore Trout, a frequently recurring character in Vonnegut novels.

I don't think it's the best Vonnegut novel which makes it merely fantastic.

- CV Rick
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 People Still Laugh 7 juillet 2006
Par Rosie Alma - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
"And people still laugh about as much as they ever did, despite their shrunken brains. If a bunch of them are lying around on a beach, and one of them farts, everybody else around laughs and laughs, just as people would have done a million years ago."

Galapagos was the very first Kurt Vonnegut book that I ever read- serendipity saw me come across it at the school library when I was thirteen years old. Thirteen years later I don't think a more glorious introduction could have been made.

You know what is going to happen right from the beginning, the ghost of Leon Trout (son of fictitious sci-fi author Kilgore Trout) has no qualms about informing you of how, a million years in the future (well, 999,980 if you consider that most of the events were meant to have taken place in 1986), the Laws of Natural Section have seen human beings evolve, their Big Brains shrinking and their bodies adapting to a life of fishing and copulation on the Galapagos Archipelago. The tale that follows then is the story of how `modern' humans came to be, the chronicle of the few passengers who stole away from a dying planet on the Bahia de Darwin and found themselves stranded on a volcanic rock for the remainder of their lives and thus making them the Adam and Eves of a new world where children are furry and have flippers.

It isn't just about Natural Selection, but an array of other subjects that are too far reaching to go into now, but would make it an enjoyable book to study further. He does make it clear that we don't fit into this world and we are destroying it, that our big brains cause most of the problems in the world and it would be much easier if we evolved to the same level as the animals that surround us.

I have very little knowledge about the life that Vonnegut has lead which makes me uncomfortable trying to establish what he was trying to say about incestuous relationships but what I do know now after rereading it is that this was one of those dark, poignant books that has had an obvious impact on my thought processes. He makes some brilliant points about war, money, fame, religion, sex, politics and the meaning of life. Which he succeeds in not giving an answer to. Sometimes though it felt like he was skimming over some really great story points in favour of presenting his point of view.

Darkly comic, a little sad and thought provoking- I'd read it again, in another ten years.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Vonnegut called it his best-and he may be right 10 août 2004
Par Jonathan E. Shapiro - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
GALAPAGOS is a profoundly moving and funny novel set in the reckless times of Ronald Reagan, when America itself seemed to be deevolving. Vonnegut also gives us one of his most succint and hilarious observations on humanity: that no matter how many ages we pass, we will still think farts are hilarious. Highly recommended.
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&quote;
Like the people on this accursed ship, my boy, they are led by captains who have no charts or compasses, and who deal from minute to minute with no problem more substantial than how to protect their self-esteem. &quote;
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&quote;
Why so many of us a million years ago purposely knocked out major chunks of our brains with alcohol from time to time remains an interesting mystery. It may be that we were trying to give evolution a shove in the right directionin the direction of smaller brains. &quote;
Marqué par 10 utilisateurs Kindle
&quote;
This was a particularly tragic flaw a million years ago, since the people who were best informed about the state of the planet, like *Andrew MacIntosh, for example, and rich and powerful enough to slow down all the waste and destruction going on, were by definition well fed. So everything was always just fine as far as they were concerned. &quote;
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