Planet of the Apes (novel)
|La Planète des singes|
1963 American first edition hardcover
|Genre(s)||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Livre de Poche|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
The novel tells the tale of three human explorers from Earth who visit a planet orbiting the star Betelgeuse, in which great apes are the dominant intelligent and civilized species, whereas humans are reduced to a savage animal-like state.
The main events of the book are placed in a frame story, in which Jinn and Phyllis, a couple out on a pleasure cruise in a spaceship, find a message in a bottle floating in space. The message inside the bottle is the testimony of a man, Ulysse Mérou. Ulysse explains that he was a friend of Professor Antelle, a genius scientist on Earth, who invented a spaceship that could travel at nearly the speed of light. In 2500, Ulysse, the professor, and a physicist named Arthur Levain flew off in this ship to explore outer space. They traveled to the nearest star system that the professor theorized might be capable of life, the red sun Betelgeuse, which would take them about 350 years to reach. Because of time dilation, however, the trip seems to the travelers only to last two years.
They arrive at the distant planetary system and find that it contains an Earth-like planet, which they name Soror (Latin for sister). They land and discover that they can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the local vegetation. They get out and go swim in a lake, until they see a young woman on a cliff. The young woman is frightened by their traveling companion, a young chimpanzee named Hector, and so she kills him. They encounter other human beings on the planet as well, although these others act as primitively as chimpanzees and destroy the clothing of the three astronauts. They are captured by the primitive humans and stay with them for a few hours. At the end of this time, they are startled to see a hunting party in the forest, consisting of gorillas and chimpanzees using guns and machines. The apes wear human clothing identical to that of 20th-century Earth, except that they wear gloves instead of shoes on their prehensile feet. The hunting party shoots several of the humans for sport, including Levain, and capture others, including Ulysse.
Ulysse is taken to the apes' city, which looks exactly the same as a human city from 20th-century Earth, except that some smaller furniture exists for the use of the chimpanzees. While most of the humans captured by the hunting party are sold for manual labor, Ulysse is sent to a research facility. There, the apes perform experiments on the humans similar to Pavlov's conditioning experiments on dogs, and Ulysse proves his intelligence by failing to be conditioned, and by speaking and drawing geometrical figures. Ulysse is adopted by one of the researchers, Zira, a female chimpanzee, who teaches him the apes' language. He learns from her all about the ape planet. Eventually, he is freed from his cage, and meets Zira's fiancé, Cornélius, a respected young scientist. With Cornélius' help, he makes a speech in front of the ape President and numerous representatives, who grant him his liberty and is given specially tailored clothing. It is around this time that he discovers his companion Professor Antelle survived the hunt and was captured, being sent to the zoo and kept in captivity in a large cage with the primitive humans. However when the protagonist attempts to make contact and speak with the professor, it is revealed he has completely lost his mind and his faculties, degenerated and behaving just as the primitive humans do. Ulysse tours the city and learns about the apes' civilization and history. The apes have a very ancient society, but their origins are lost in time. Their technology and culture have progressed slowly through the centuries because each generation, for the most part, imitates those of the past. The society is divided between the violent gorillas, the pedantic and conservative orangutans, and the intellectual chimpanzees.
Although Ulysse's patrons Zira and Cornélius are convinced of his intelligence, the society's leading orangutan scientists believe he is faking his understanding of language, because their philosophy will not allow the possibility of intelligent human beings. Ulysse falls in love with a primitive human female, Nova, whom he had met in the forest at the beginning of his visit to the planet. He impregnates her and thus proves that he is the same species as the primitive humans, which lowers his standing in the eyes of many of the apes. Their derision turns to fear with a discovery in a distant archaeological dig and an analysis of memory in some human brains. Evidence is uncovered that fills in the missing history of the apes. In the distant past, the planet was ruled by human beings who built a technological society and enslaved apes to perform their manual labor. Over time the humans became more and more dependent upon the apes, until eventually they became so lazy and degenerate that they were overthrown by their ape servants and fell into the primitive state in which our protagonist found them.
While some of the apes reject this evidence, others (in particular, an old orangutan scientist, Dr. Zaius) take it as a sign that the humans are a threat and must be exterminated. Ulysse learns of this, and escapes from the planet with his wife and newborn son (Sirius), returning to Earth in the professor's spaceship. Ulysse lands on Earth more than 700 years after he had originally left it, just outside the city of Paris. Once outside the ship, he discovers that Earth is now ruled by intelligent apes just like the planet from which he has fled. He immediately leaves Earth in his ship, writes his story, places it in a bottle, and launches it into space for someone to find. It is at this point in the story that Jinn and Phyllis, the couple who found the bottle, are revealed to be chimpanzees. Jinn and Phyllis dismiss Ulysse's narrative, saying that a human would not have the intelligence to write such a story.
Publication history 
The novel was published in France in 1963 by René Julliard. The first English language version, with a translation by Xan Fielding, was published in the United States by Vanguard Press in June 1963 under the title Planet of the Apes. In January 1964 it was published in the United Kingdom as Monkey Planet by Secker & Warburg of London, then re-issued as Planet of the Apes in August 1973 to tie it in to the film franchise it inspired. The first paperback edition was published in the US in March 1964 by Signet / New American Library. In May 1964 Saga: The Magazine For Men printed an abridged version of the novel.
The novel has inspired a media franchise comprising seven films, two television series (one animated), and comic books.
The first was Planet of the Apes (1968), a science fiction feature film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a screenplay by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling. It stars Charlton Heston. The film was a critical and commercial success, spawning four sequels.
A second adaptation of the book was produced in 2001 directed by Tim Burton. A series reboot called Rise of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Rupert Wyatt, was released in August 2011 to critical and commercial success. It is intended to be the first in a new series of films.
See also 
- "Monkey Planet". Retrieved 2012-04-25.
- "Those Damned Dirty Apes!". www.mediacircus.net. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
- Lussier, Germain. "Collider Visits The Set of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES; Plus Video Blog", Collider.com, 14 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
Further reading 
- Handley, Rich (2009). Timeline of the Planet of the Apes. Hasslein Books. ISBN 978-0615253923. Includes cover gallery (p. 269).