Customer Review

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY back in print, January 5, 2005
This review is from: The Disappearance (Bison Frontiers of Imagination) (Paperback)
One of the most remarkable novels ever written, The Disappearance must have caused a sensation in 1951 when it first appeared. I won't belabor the plot, because others have already recounted it. But its frank analysis of the way in which our society separates men and women, teaches children to be ashamed of their bodies, teaches men and women NOT to fulfill their potentials and destinies but to fill the paths set down by our narrowminded forebears, is every bit as poignant today as it was then.

Wylie's two protagonists -- Bill Gaunt the philosopher and is wife Paula -- a PhD in languages -- are three-dimensional and fascinating. His assessment of the world of men without women disintegrating into lawlessness is frighteningly real. His world of women discovering that very few of their number have been trained in the rudiments of running the society is sobering. And although women have come a long way in that respect since 1951, the glass ceiling still exists. The perception of the "role" of women or men in a particular situation hasn't gone away.

The whole story is told with insight and a wicked sense of humor. Just look at his picture of the wives of the government officials trying to run the government of women. Unfortunately, politicians do not always choose wives for their intelligence but for a host of other attributes and skills that do not help them to cope with the catastrophe. And the showdown between the American and Soviet women will leave you breathless and laughing.

To me, the best example of the way Wylie chose to tell this story is Chapter 13, which does not further the plot at all. Bill Gaunt is asked by the President and a committee of scientists and other thinkers to prepare an essay assessing what it all means. Chapter 13 is that essay. Even the title of the chapter lets impatient readers know that if they skip it, they will lose none of the sense of the story. DON"T SKIP IT!!

Not for the faint of heart, but DEFINITELY for the inquiring mind. Those of us who have already read this one (several times) are pleased it is back in print so we can replace the lop-eared copies we have been reading for years.

Note to Hollywood: Wouldn't this make a fascinating subject for a movie? Probably not. Its subtleties and interweaving of plots and events would go beyond Hollywood's ability to translate it without succumbing to the temptation to mess with it. So I guess we'll just have to read it again.

One cautionary note: Be aware that the novel does have one bit of baggage that is left over from the time it was written. Its Cold War politics may seem out of place today, but it carries the story forward. Aside from that small anachronism (from our point of view), the novel could have been written yesterday.

If you've never heard of this one, give it a chance. You'll be as amazed as I was.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 5, 2010 12:13:07 PM PST
L. Cabos says:
Many years ago producer George Pal owned the rights to the Wylie book but was never able to mount a project after the disasterous failure of 1975's DOC SAVAGE.
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