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The Disappearance (1951)

Tekijä: Philip Wylie

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
262596,417 (3.69)36
This brilliant classic of speculative fiction imagines the aftermath of an extraordinary global occurrence that forces Earth's men and women to exist in parallel dimensions Like every other family, the Gaunts are devastated by the unexplained phenomenon that occurs one Tuesday afternoon in February. In an instant, every female on Earth is mysteriously transported to a different plane, forced to live apart from the males, who have been left behind. Suddenly trapped in two parallel realities--with the bonds of love, trust, sex, and stability that formed the foundation of their relationship abruptly severed--Bill and Paula Gaunt must separately reexamine who they truly are and what they are capable of as existence itself becomes a struggle in one world that descends into violence and brutality, and another that is soon plagued by famine and despair. Originally published more than half a century ago, Philip Wylie's provocative science fiction classic remains a masterful work of intelligence and imagination. The Disappearance is a breathtaking, thought-provoking exploration of gender roles and expectations that reveals stark truths about who we are as men and women--and as the interconnected members of a fallible human race.… (lisätietoja)
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englanti (4)  tanska (1)  Kaikki kielet (5)
näyttää 5/5
Thus American imagination is directed—as if in the whole of life no other aims or satisfactions could be found than those of being a consumer, avid, constant and catholic.
In America, the child is schooled, if a boy, toward fiscal endeavor. It is taught to want to be a “good provider,” if not a millionaire. From babyhood it is pursued by advertisements and commercials which give it the aggregate impression that the aim of life is to acquire funds wherewith to obtain all it hears recommended. The American media of communication hypnotize it into a set of special desires. A girl, of course, takes up the same doctrine. Her aim becomes to find a mate with money to act on every radio commercial or, at the very least, to set herself up in a career which will enable her so to act, independently.


Science Fiction from 1951 and Wylie's fine but overstuffed novel flies in the face of much of what was being published at the time; It signals its intentions by having as its principal characters a philosopher (Doctor William Percival Gaunt) and his able and intelligent wife Paula. The scenario is the sudden disappearance of all the women from the world; in the blink of an eye the only human beings on the earth are male, however the women experience the same catastrophe as from their perspective all the males suddenly disappear. Alternate chapters then tell the story of a world without women and others a world without men. Both scenarios are looking towards extinction of the human race, because creating children is an impossibility.

It is 1950's America when the biggest threat to the survival of the human race was a nuclear war. The world of men soon lurch precipitously into a war with Russia. The world of women fare better, being able to negotiate and to a certain extent work together with the enemy in the hope of finding a solution to the problem of procreation. Doctor Gaunt is summoned to the White House to confer with a group of the ablest men of his generation to find a solution to the dilemma, but their convocation is soon overtaken by the need for military action. What is left of America degenerates into lawlessness and central government is again forced to take military action this time against the militias and criminal gangs that roam the country. The women in their world have different problems because there are a lack of qualified women to run the power plants, pilot the aircraft, drive the trains. There is an acute shortage of doctors, builders and engineers and so the material fabric of their world starts to break down. A major theme of the novel is not only that the two sexes need each other, but they also need each other on equal terms. The problems that the women face is because of their their lack of expertise and knowledge.

The paper that Doctor Gaunt prepares for the convocation of great minds is psychological in nature emphasising the fact that man and women of the 'West' have inhabited two utterly discrete worlds; he goes on to say that by the demeaning of women men have demeaned themselves. The answer to the problem is that men and women must come together equally to form a single unit. The Disappearance of the other sex has highlighted an opportunity that has been missed and which now psychologically has caused the permanent separation. Wylie has headed his chapter 13 as:

"AN ESSAY ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF SEX, OR THE LACK THEREOF, EXTRANEOUS TO THE NARRATIVE AND YET ITS THEME, WHICH THE IMPATIENT MAY SKIP AND THE REFLECTIVE MIGHT ENJOY."

This is the paper that Doctor Gaunt contributes to the convocation, which finds no favour with the politicians, but sets out for the readers of the book the central idea running through the novel. A little clumsy maybe but it serves to bring together the story to its conclusion. Wylie is also not frightened to raise issues around same sex love and the need for sexual fulfilment. This is a novel that castigates humanities need for always wanting more, for stripping the planet of its resources, for the dominance of one sex over the other: enlightened themes which sometimes sit uncomfortably with the story. Having created the mystery of the disappearance Wylie has the difficult task of explaining it away and readers who are looking for a satisfactory conclusion may be disappointed. I also found that some of the dialogue especially on a political level seemed a bit simplistic, but then again after listening to President Trump, Wylie might have got it just right.

This is an ambitious novel that tries to introduce philosophical/psychological ideas into a science fiction novel. It would not be a candidate for serialisation in magazines such as Weird Science or Astounding Science fiction that were popular at the time, nor would it be taken completely seriously by readers not accustomed to science fiction. However I would not condemn it as falling between two stools, but admire it for its thoughtful telling of a story that sets the imagination running and also resonates with some deeper ideas and themes. This one surprised me and so a four star read.

Let Doctor Gaunt have the last word:

Gaunt nodded. “No future in it. Strip the resources off the planet. Leave nothing for any posterity—” “That. The cockeyedness of mass production. A plenty of having things and a total dearth of living a life. You were born, educated, and then what? You tended a machine. You sat in an office. You traveled to and from it. You aged and died. Most of your active self was spent in a long, nasty, unrewarding day. Dumb or bright, poor or rich, that was the schedule for nearly all. Crazy!” “Yet most of the men who retired were miserable.” “And slaves love chains. There were too many people. They exploited their ability to stay alive. Took no responsibility for selecting the stock. For dying. For anything but breeding. And then what? The more there were the harder and harder they had to work!” ( )
4 ääni baswood | Jun 12, 2020 |
Indeholder "I. Katastrofen", " 1. kapitel, i hvilket vi præsenteres for en kendt og anset personlighed og hører om en besynderlig hændelse, der forbløffer ham og mange andre", " 2. kapitel, i hvilket en talentfuld dame bliver plaget af familiebesvær - af den slags, som ikke er sjældent i disse tider - men glemmer det for en anden begivenhed", " 3. kapitel. En filosof i knibe - en storby i opløsning", " 4. kapitel, i hvilket mange tapre kvinder opdager, at den verden, som lige var styrtet sammen omkring dem, var en verden, de ikke kendte", " 5. kapitel, i hvilket der foretages en rejse til et velordnet galehus", "II. Armageddon", " 6. kapitel. Angrebet", " 7. kapitel, i hvilket visse damer tager sig friheder med loven", " 8. kapitel, i hvilket en belejring hæves og en mand drager ud for at lede efter sin søn", "III. De kærlighedsløse", " 9. kapitel, der beskæftiger sig med forskellige tilfælde af utroskab", "10. kapitel, i hvilket to revolutioners døtre mødes på Hudsonfloden", " 11. kapitel, i hvilket man hører om flere forandringer", " 12. kapitel. En verden af kvinder - O Tempora! O Mores!", " 13. kapitel, hvor man hører om en naturkatastrofe og om en elementær lidenskab", " 14. kapitel, i hvilket menneskets og videnskabens respektive mangler mødes på denne side af evigheden", "IV. Drømme, tid og rum", " 15. kapitel, i hvilket det praktiske livs mænd kommer til kort, og en mystiker forsøger at nærme sig problemerne på en upraktisk måde", " 16. kapitel, i hvilket en dame bliver helbredt, og en mængde andre bliver syge", " 17. kapitel, i hvilket de gode viljers mænd trækker sig tilbage", " 18. kapitel. Hjemkomst og afslutning".

??? ( )
  bnielsen | Feb 2, 2020 |
If you're looking for an unambiguous thumbs up or thumbs down on this book, you're not going to get it here. The premise of this book is that, one day, all the men disappear from the women's world, and all the women disappear from the men's. What happens to the single-gender societies?

Looking at this simply from a story point of view, there are two very distinct parts. There are the portions where the story is actually going on and the plot is happening. These keep you entertained and interested, no question. Then there are the portions where Wylie, through the thoughts/words of one character or another, speechifies. These are tedious. You could skim through these a bit to keep the story moving swiftly. Unfortunately, you'd then miss important points of this allegorical tale about the different realities experienced by men and women, and what Wylie thinks we ought to do about them. You need to read them.

Looking at the characters, there are some colorful and vivid ones. I found them a bit internally inconsistent but they do keep you engaged.

Looking at this as a picture of 1951, well, it's great! The social mores, the racial and sexual prejudices, the Cold War attitudes: all leap from pages for your inspection. You can marvel at how far we've come since then, or you can despair how much some things are the same but, either way, the picture is vivid and bright.

But, what this book is really about is asking questions about the complementary nature of man/woman, about double standards, about monogamy, about the "natural" nature of a man or a woman. Looking at it from this point of view, you find a book that is ambitiously willing to question convention and normality but that, ultimately, loses heart in hanging onto the answer.

Wylie boldly says, "This is where we should go." But...few of his characters really go there. The enlightened, principled male lead isn't so enlightened or principled when you put him under a microscope. The strong, independent female lead doesn't really come across as strong and independent to my ears. My two favorite characters, Teddy and Bella, come somewhat close but, unfortunately, they are minor bit parts.

It's a book that asks some really good questions. It's also a book that, due to its era, doesn't realize that some questions exist (Minorities and LGBT issues). It's a book that doesn't quite have the courage...or maybe it was vision...to put a stake in the ground with its answers and say, "Ban this book if it offends you that much, but this is what I think!" But, maybe that's okay, since the book will cause you to think about your answers yourself. ( )
4 ääni TadAD | Nov 11, 2012 |
What you've got in [The Disappearance] is a book that asks all the right questions (what if all the men disappeared, how would women cope, and vice versa, how would the men cope). BUT the journey to Wylie's conclusions is often so maddening that it is a tribute to his sheer ability to spin a good yarn that I stuck with it. He's got the gift, which I remember had me riveted into the wee hours of the night in my early teens when I encountered [When Worlds Collide]. The story cuts back and forth between Bill and Paula Gaunt, he a philosopher, she his wife, a housewife (albeit v. well educated) in their fifties, long married and not unhappily. There is a third element which are long and tedious chapters where Bill is working out his ideas about why the disappearance has been inflicted (mostly flailing around) and what can be done about it (nothing much except try to stay alive.). Wylie seems to offer that men would either theorize pointlessly and futilely or get murderous, bored, and crazed with sexual need. Women would alternate between obsessing with trivialities and just getting on with the next thing to be done, perhaps failing to look far enough ahead (lacking imagination, as Wylie thinks we do.) Paula occasionally has a pensive moment, but she's mostly too busy. The racism and sexism -- all based on the assumptions that Wylie possessed, and he was probably reasonably enlightened for the times -- get in the way of the one important aspect of the book - that it is a brilliant 'what if' and that nearly all the questions Wylie raises are valid ones. Why be faithful? Why are cultures so prone to becoming rigid? Why does Christianity take such a cruel attitude toward women (I mean the snake, the apple, it's a mess from the get-go)? Even the horrible racism that sticks out now, serves as a reminder and an incentive to think and learn and grow. I found, actually, that sixty years on, the fact that the most racist parts of the book are so utterly out of the realm of the possible now that it was a bit uplifting to feel that some progress has been made. Same with the fact that women have also, for the most part moved on. And that so many men are dedicated to their families in a different way than of yore, totally hands-on, that is. Nonetheless the questions are, in a way, timeless ones that need to always be in our minds. The conclusions Wylie comes to are to my mind, pathetically limited his own temporal and intellectual limitations. Hocus pocus, really, but we are free to answer the questions he raises differently. He gets my respect for having the courage and the vision, to ask, to attempt a book of this kind. I see much of the dystopic literature which abounds today owing a great deal to Wylie. ****1/2 ( )
4 ääni sibylline | Nov 11, 2012 |
This was recommended to me by the head librarian back when I worked at St. Marys Public Library and it is still one of my favourite books. It took me a while to track down a copy of it, but now, I always bring it up as a suggestion when people are looking for something to read. Even though it is fairly old, I think it gives a good picture of what life would be like if there really was a disappearance. It does run a bit long, though ( )
1 ääni janeycanuck | Apr 9, 2006 |
näyttää 5/5
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (4 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Philip Wylieensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Dillon, DianeKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Dillon, LeoKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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This brilliant classic of speculative fiction imagines the aftermath of an extraordinary global occurrence that forces Earth's men and women to exist in parallel dimensions Like every other family, the Gaunts are devastated by the unexplained phenomenon that occurs one Tuesday afternoon in February. In an instant, every female on Earth is mysteriously transported to a different plane, forced to live apart from the males, who have been left behind. Suddenly trapped in two parallel realities--with the bonds of love, trust, sex, and stability that formed the foundation of their relationship abruptly severed--Bill and Paula Gaunt must separately reexamine who they truly are and what they are capable of as existence itself becomes a struggle in one world that descends into violence and brutality, and another that is soon plagued by famine and despair. Originally published more than half a century ago, Philip Wylie's provocative science fiction classic remains a masterful work of intelligence and imagination. The Disappearance is a breathtaking, thought-provoking exploration of gender roles and expectations that reveals stark truths about who we are as men and women--and as the interconnected members of a fallible human race.

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