Atlantida (novel)

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For other uses, see L'Atlantide (disambiguation).
Atlantida
Author Pierre Benoit
Original title L'Atlantide
Translator Mary C. Tongue and Mary Ross
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Duffield
Publication date
1920
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages iii, 303 pp
ISBN 978-1515126478

Atlantida (French: L'Atlantide) is a French novel by Pierre Benoit published in February 1919. It was translated into English in 1920 as Atlantida. L'Atlantide was Benoit's second novel, following Koenigsmark, and it won the Grand Prize of the French Academy. The English translation of Atlantida was first published in the United States as a serial in Adventure magazine.[1]

The story inspired many films.

Plot summary[edit]

It is 1896 in the French Algerian Sahara. Two officers, André de Saint-Avit and Jean Morhange investigate the disappearance of their fellow officers. While doing so, they are drugged and kidnapped by a Tarqui warrior, the procurer for the monstrous Queen Antinea. Antinea, descendant of the rulers of Atlantis, has a cave wall with 120 niches carved into it, one for each of her lovers. Only 53 have been filled; when all 120 have been filled, Antinea will sit atop a throne in the center of the cave and rest forever. Saint-Avit is unable to resist Antinea's charms. By her will, he murders the asexual Morhange. Ultimately, he is able to escape and get out of the desert alive.

Inspiration for Atlantida[edit]

According to some, Pierre Benoit was inspired, for the character of Antinea, by the Berber queen Tin Hinan.[2]

In the book Pierre Benoit also draws upon the memories of his youth. As the son of a colonel, he spent his early years in Tunisia, where his father was posted, and then attended school in Algeria. In Algeria, Pierre Benoit also fulfilled his military service. In an article in L'Écho de Paris dated 2 February 1920, Pierre Benoit explained:

"From 1892 to 1907, I lived in Tunisia and in Algeria. Ever since my childhood, I had heard talk of Tuaregs, and my imagination was aroused by certain sombre stories, especially that of a mission into the African centre by two Frenchmen of whom only one returned, without anyone ever learning how his companion had perished.[3] This is the idea which is at the basis of Atlantida, there is no other."[4]

This statement follows an allegation by reviewer Henry Magden in October 1919 that Benoit had plagiarised Sir Henry Rider Haggard's novel She (1887); in the ensuing lawsuit for libel, Benoit stated this to be untrue as he could neither speak nor read English. Indeed no French translation of Haggard's book had been available at the time.[1]

In turn, Atlantida and the character Antinea are considered as a possible source of inspiration of the lost city of Opar - the first and most frequently re-visited of the many lost cities and cultures which Tarzan discovers in Africa - and its high priestess La, with whom Tarzan develops a prolonged love/hate relationship.

Film adaptations[edit]

The first film adaptation of L'Atlantide was made during 1920 (and released in 1921), directed by Jacques Feyder.

During 1932–1933, famed German film director Georg Wilhelm Pabst made three films based on the novel, one each in German, English, and French (this was common in the early to mid-1930s) They were titled Die Herrin von Atlantis, The Mistress of Atlantis, and L'Atlantide, respectively.

An American film version of the story was released in 1949 under the title Siren of Atlantis, starring María Montez.

The Italian-made peplum film Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis (Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide, 1961), directed by Vittorio Cottafavi, drew heavily on the plot and characters of the book, having Queen Antinea capture Hercules and his companion Androcles, and imprisoning them in her red-lined underground palace. Androcles takes the Saint-Avit role and tries to murder Hercules, who (unsurprisingly) is able to resist Antinea's wiles and eventually saves the day. The film incorporates an anti-nuclear theme and has been praised by critics as one of the better Pepla ("Sword-and-sandal") films. However its alternative US title – Hercules and the Captive Women – makes clear the audience it was expected to attract. Another Italian film, the comedy Totò sceicco (1950) starring Totò, is a parody of the story (and in particular of the 1949 film Siren of Atlantis).

In 1992, another film adaptation of the novel was made, L'Atlantide, directed by Bob Swaim and starring Tchéky Karyo, Jean Rochefort, Anna Galiena, and the famous Spanish actor, Fernando Rey.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Forgotten Giant: Hoffman's Adventure" by Richard Bleiler. Purple Prose Magazine, November 1998, p. 3-12.
  2. ^ Elizabeth Kalta, Le mystère du Sahara et des hommes bleus
  3. ^ Affaire Quiquerez
  4. ^ cité par Jacques-Henry Bornecque, in Pierre Benoit le magicien, p.135.
  • L'Atlantide.
  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 47. 
  • A facsimile of the 1920 English translation was published by Bison Books under the title Queen of Atlantis in 2005.

External links[edit]