The Old Men at the Zoo
Angus Wilson
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The Old Men at the Zoo

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Set in a near future (the novel was first published in 1961 and is set in the period 1970-73), this is Angus Wilson's most allegorical novel, about a doomed attempt to set up a reserve for wild animals. Simon Carter, secretary of the London Zoo, has accepted responsibility and power to the prejudice of his gifts as a naturalist. But power is more than just the complicated...more
Published by Academy Chicago Publishers (first published 1961)
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It's not a very successful novel. The fundamental problem is that the future Wilson predicts is grounded in his 1940s experiences of the British Library and at Bletchley Park. In fact, that's being too kind to Angus. Women were doing crucial work at Bletchley ... why are they only making the teas in his imagined 1970s?

He's gives us London Zoo ran by various old men and administered by an outsider, Simon Carter, as an allegory of sorts for life, political life, in post-war Britain. Dr Leacock, th...more
This novel took me a long time to read as I never really got into it. It falls into the genre of dystopian-future-of-the-past, having been published in 1961 and set in the 70s. The pacing is bafflingly inconsistent. For the first four fifths or so, the plot is purely bureaucratic machinations and office politics within London Zoo. The pacing is slow, sometimes tortuously so. Our protagonist, Simon Carter, comes off as something of a self-important jerk, but all his colleagues seem equally if not...more
Fluent and disappointing. A novel about office politics shading into political shenanigans. As a novel about the not-so-distant future, Wilson fails to register the 20th century's most basic change, that is, the change of status in women from housewives to full members of society. The weirdest thing about the book is the portrayal of a world in which men have entire extended families fully dependent on them for survival. These families stay at home, neurasthenic and unhappy, while the paterfamil...more
A slow paced novel describing a future (the 1970s) in which Europe is again on the brink of war. This book is, primarily, set in London Zoo which is run by a group of old men (except for the secretary) each with their own foibles. Narrated in the first person by the secretary, the story describes the slow descent into a fascist state, and how events at the zoo mirror those unfolding outside, of which many of the zoo's employees are unaware.

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Sir Angus Frank Johnstone Wilson, KBE (11 August 1913 – 31 May 1991) was an English novelist and short story writer. He was awarded the 1958 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot and later received a knighthood for his services to literature.
More about Angus Wilson...
Anglo-Saxon Attitudes Hemlock and After The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot The Wrong Set and other stories Late Call

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