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The Fixed Period by Anthony Trollope

The Fixed Period (original 1882; edition 1997)

by Anthony Trollope, Elisa Trimby (Illustrator)

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129193,299 (2.94)12
Title:The Fixed Period
Authors:Anthony Trollope
Other authors:Elisa Trimby (Illustrator)
Info:Folio Society (1997), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, 19th century, satire, euthanasia, cricket

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The Fixed Period by Anthony Trollope (1882)



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Not quite what you would expect from Trollope: this late work is a satirical fantasy, set 100 years in the future (1979-1980!) in an imaginary former British colony in the South Pacific. It's obviously meant to be alluding to things like Gulliver's travels, Erewhon and More's Utopia, but the scenario calls W.S Gilbert to mind much more readily than Swift: The government of the young republic has enacted a rational, benevolent and enlightened new law that imposes compulsory euthanasia on everyone who reaches the age of 68 (Trollope was 67 when he wrote this!). Everything goes very smoothly, until they get to the point when the first person should be "deposited" in the new college prior to the humane ending of his life...

The silly plot and the little futuristic touches (cricket matches with steam-powered catapults, etc.) would have been ideal for a G&S operetta: apart from cricketers, we also get various peers and the Royal Navy. Throw in a few pirates and some bridesmaids, and we've practically got a full set of G&S choruses. On the other hand, there's a lot of rather unfortunately-prescient reference to crematorium ovens, invoking quite a different set of associations.

What makes it especially Trollopean is the way the story is tied to the viewpoint of President Neverbend, a reasonable, humane man, but stubborn in his conviction that the Fixed Period will be the salvation of mankind, if he can only get beyond the purely domestic problem that the first person to be killed is his best friend, the father of the girl his son wants to marry. Male stubbornness is a Trollope speciality, of course, and we have the inevitable scenes where Neverbend has to submit to bedtime lectures from his wife, just like Grantly, Proudie and all the rest. Seeing these from the first-person viewpoint, watching how Neverbend tries to resolve common-sense and friendship with his convictions, is a fascinating process. I believe this is the only Trollope novel written in the first person: it is very effective. ( )
6 vote thorold | Apr 26, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Super, R. H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It may be doubted whether a brighter, more prosperous, and specially more orderly colony than Britannula was ever settled by British colonists.
I never knew a decent woman who wasn't an Episcopalian.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192828428, Paperback)

Published in 1882, this extraordinary novel--an excercise in Swiftian irony combined with a love story in a furturistic setting--is entirely uncharacteristic of Trollope's usual drawing room conversations and hunting scenes. Set in the 1980s, The Fixed Period describes an imaginary, antipodean ex-colony governed by a President who views himself as a benefactor of the human race, Orwellian double-speak and gunboat diplomacy. This is Trollope's strangest and most chilling novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:14 -0400)

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