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The Wanting Seed (Norton Paperback Fiction) Paperback – December 17, 1996
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But just because the Wanting Seed is a work of playful parody and dark comedy does not mean there is nothing profound about it. In fact if I had to pick the one dystopian novel towards which our society is most surely leaning, it would be this one (which is pretty amazing considering it was written in 1962). As counties like China and India are regulating procreation and instituting their own versions of Mr. Burgess' "population police" and the value of human life wilts ever downward, I wonder how close we are to vision of the Wanting Seed. The novel stands as a warning that repressing man's natural urges and diminishing his worth is not the answer to the problem. Your bookstore is stocked full of novels predicting mankind's future, but few as startling and important as this.
p.s.: A Burgess must-read is "Nothing Like the Sun", Mr. B's mini-biography of Shakespeare
The most interesting aspect of "The Wanting Seed" is Burgess's twist on the usual dystopian plot, where a brave individual battles against some variation of a static, overbearing Big Brother. Instead, Burgess posits a state that has figured out how to gauge and steer man's competing psychological impulses into predictable cycles. Thus, political order is in constant flux between hyper-rational centralization (Rousseau, Marx) and one that gives ample release to Man's all-too-human side (Malthus, Hobbes, Smith). As the novel begins, the political order is at its most rational: homosexuality is encouraged by the state, couples are allowed one child, people eat a state-rationed protein mash, and rules don't have to be enforced by the police. We first meet Beatrice-Joanna Foxe after the death of her only allotted child. The doctor absurdly encourages her to be "modern", "sensible", and of course "rational", telling her to "think about this in national terms, in global terms. One less mouth to feed. One more half-kilo of phosphorus pentoxide to nourish the earth".Read more ›
Much of the book really sizzles, with biting satire on nearly every page. However the story eventually runs out of steam (..it deviates to a sub-story involving the military which, while initially interesting, bored this reader). But let this minor fault not deter you from enjoying a witty book.
Bottom line: a rare, yet slightly flawed, gem.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such an interesting almost prescient take on todays culture from almost 50 years ago. Its up there with 1984 and fahrenheit 451.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
In a distopian future the world is divided into three overpopulated super states, Enspun Ruspun and Chinspun. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Nicholas Triggs
This 1962 novel seems to me very timely today with the identity-politics-gone-wild of the self-described LGBTQIAA2S movement and its vitriolic intolerance of folks who are... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Lee W. Smith
A roller coaster of a book, taking the reader through multiple phases of social change. Having read it, I'm surprised it's not mentioned more often as the dystopian future depicted... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Claire Bendix
The gender politics are a bit clunky for the modern reader -- for example, Burgess uses terms such as "mince" and "twitter" and "prance" and "fuss"... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Albert C. Doyle
A welcome satire of multiculturalism with a degree of comedic wit. Beware, though, for the book is...a product of its time and certain aspects have aged poorly.Published 12 months ago by Eric Sellers
A companion dystopian novel published in 1962 by Anthony Burgess just before the much more famous A Clockwork Orange, The Wanting Seed tries to go in too many directions, in my... Read morePublished 13 months ago by M. Buzalka
Interesting and scary solution for population issues. 1985 captures Burgess better in my view. Well worth the money and a good read.Published 21 months ago by Joey E. Boyum
This book had me literally laughing out loud with almost every page turned. This book is a pure stroke of genius and Anthony Burgess is one of the greatest satirists the world has... Read morePublished on January 1, 2014 by noah wright