The New Englander, Vol. XXXIX, 1880.
New Haven, W.L. Kingsley, proprieter and publisher.
Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor, printers, 1880.

Notices of New Books, 302-303 - March, 1880

The Prehistoric World. By ÉLIE BERTHET.
Translated from the French by MARY J. SAFFORD.
Porter & Coates, Philadelphia. 310 pp., 12mo.
For sale by E.P. Judd, New Haven.

THE PRE-HISTORIC WORLD. This is the first attempt, so far as we are aware, to present in a romance a picture of the life of prehistoric man. Within the past few years paleontologists claim that they have found the weapons, the barbaric ornaments, the utensils, even the remains of the coarse food of the human beings who lived "myriads of years before historic man." They claim that from these remains can be determined the race to which he belonged, the surroundings amid which he lived, and from them can be deduced also his character, manners, and customs. In the first of the tales in this book, M. Élie Berthet has attempted to give a study of the people who, in the "Quaternary period" — the age of the cave-bears and the mammoths — inhabited the district where now is the city of Paris. They are supposed to have belonged to the Mongol race, and to have lived by families and in caves, given up to the fiercest passions and the most brutal instincts. The author claims that in the construction of his story, he has the authority of some scientist "for every sentence and for almost every line." In his first chapter he describes the scenery of the district where ages after the city of Paris was built and the mammoth animals which lived in its river, or roamed through the forests which covered the now familiar hills. In his next chapter, the reader is introduced to a human family who occupy one of the caves on the sides of what is now known as Montmartre. It is a wild story of love and blood and vengeance connected with this primitive family on which the interest of the tale turns. A second story illustrates life in a "lacustrian city" which belonged several thousands of years later to a race called the "dolmen nations," in the "age of polished stone." The third and last story illustrates, by means of an account of the foundation of Paris, the "age of metals."
The stories are all admirably told, and while the reader will admire the ingenuity of the author, he will also learn to appreciate more clearly than before the significance of the late discoveries of the geologists and paleontologists and the theories which are based upon them.