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The Wanting Seed

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,059 ratings  ·  199 reviews
"The Wanting Seed" is a Malthusian comedy about the strange world that overpopulation will produce. Tristram Foxe and his wife, Beatrice-Joanna, live in their skyscraper world of spacelessness where official family limitation glorifies homosexuality ("It's Sapiens to be Homo"). This time of the near future is eventually transformed into a chaos of cannibalistic dining-club ...more
Paperback, Norton Paperback Fiction, 288 pages
Published December 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1962)
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Best Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ian
Sep 13, 2007 Ian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of 1984, anyone scared of overpopulation, those who distrust the government.
Anthony Burgess is probably best known (at least among Americans) for his novel A Clockwork Orange. Like A Clockwork Orange, The Wanting Seed takes place in a near future society that is in the first stages of decline.

This book is hilarious and contains such things as reprocessing dead humans, promoting homosexual behavior as a way of population control, famine, and fake wars for the benefit of humanity as a whole. These things may not sound funny, but Burgess's language skills shine here, and
...more
Tom Lucas
For the most part I like people, even though many of them suck. I am also convinced that the world grows a bit more stupid every day and that we slowly move away from any kind of social evolution. Sure, there's plenty of technological innovation, and dentistry is a far better experience today, but people don't seem to be improving.

We still love screwing each other over, arguing about false issues, and murdering each other. Infrastructures are straining under corruption, graft, and greed. Congres
...more
Eraserhead
Loved this book. Hilarious and energetic. Comes at you like a psychedelic rock song. I found the story pretty clever but really loved Burgess' sense of apocalypse, as if he transcribed images from Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. I loved Tristram's trek thru degenerating England, the slow sprawl of history, moving from extreme police states on opposite poles of the structure.


Yes, the love story was clumsy, but t served the purpose of showing this world's dichotomy and hypocrisy, his wife leav
...more
Scott
If you like unbelievable use of Vocabulary you will like Anthony Burgess. And Burgess' novel The Wanting Seed will not let you down in that fashion. Overall the novel is dealing with population control in a futuristic dystopian society. More acute themes deal with desires, sexual, for life, and love. And how one can never give up trying to pursue what they believe in... especially love. The wanting seed is pretty epic as it follows the life of the main character Tristram. The journey reminded me ...more
Stephanie
I am a sucker for a good 1984-esque book. Also, I adore Burgess and all his linguistics talents. I loved his idea of cyclical history, one that is at least somewhat comforting in the midst of current economic crises. This is a must-read for any Burgess fan.
Niki
I honestly can't tell if this is a rubbish sci-fi novel or brilliant Vogon poetry.
Tancredi
"Così va il mondo, non puoi far altro che accettarlo: gloglottii coitali e abbandono alla promiscuità, masticazione di tessuti corporei e militaresco inquadramento."

Il problema dei romanzi a tesi, è che se la tesi non ti convince proprio, beh, non puoi nemmeno consolarti con un bel romanzo. E' questo il caso di Il seme inquieto: un romanzo che, lo dico adesso e lo ribadirò più e più volte, fosse solo per dare la misura del mio sgomento, non sembra affatto scritto dalla stessa mano che ha concepi
...more
Al
the book was very well written, much like 1984, Fahrenheit and a brave new world at times. it took these novels a bit further though by explaining a bit of history. the main character a history teacher Tristan Foxe explains that there country goes though cycle phases. starting in a society where people believe that everyone is good and punishments are lite because they think people will learn. then the government gets fed up with how people can't be all good and more policing is needed. essentia ...more
Julie
I read this about a week or two ago, but it's already fading in my memory.

I guess the basic premise is that the world is overpopulated, so you're limited to how many children you can have. But polite, genteel people don't have any.

Which has a knockoff effect of, if you're gay (particularly male and gay) you advance more quickly in your career, and things like that. So there's a real advantage to pretending to be gay. And the culture has adopted gay dress and mannerisms. And that is really the mo
...more
Angela
For a while there, I really wasn't sure where this book was going, or why it was worth my time to read it. But, I stayed the course, and I have to admit, I had a hard time putting it down in the final few chapters as the book reached its climax and attempted resolution. The final chapter was pure elegance, and while I don't don't feel it resolved the plot well enough for my taste, I appreciated the power of Burgess' prose.

The problem with reading this book today is quarter-fold. First of all, B
...more
Margo R
If you enjoy lackluster writing, prejudices from 30 years ago, unrelatable characters, and inexplicable plot twists, then this is the novel for you! If these things annoy you as much as they annoy me, then this is probably not worth reading.

Honestly, the most amusing part of the novel was completely unintentional, because things we take for granted in modern society (Biracial people! Gays! Non-conformity to gender norms! VEGETARIANS!) are the crux of what makes this future world a dystopia. It r
...more
James
Last month I reread Anthony Burgess's most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange. In it I found new insights into Burgess's creative thought, encouraging me to read more of hisoeuvre. I followed up on that idea with The Wanting Seed, which he wrote immediately following Clockwork. This dystopian novel demonstrates one of his persistent themes, the conflict between 'Augustinian' authoritarianism and 'neo-Pelagian' liberalism. The novel is set in a future similar to A Clockwork Orange, where Burgess pr ...more
Mel
I have to say the original "dystopia" sounded totally Utopian to me. In the world, homosexuality was encouraged, breeding was discouraged, race was something that was ignored and everyone had enough to eat, there was no war, no military, no religion, there was a liberal government that seemed half way between communism and anarchy. Of course the homophobic main characters didn't get a lot of sympathy from me, but I loved the setting. Of course things didn't stay that way as society was changing, ...more
Shayna L
This is very much a future dystopia novel. It takes place in what was once the UK and follows the lives of a married couple, Tristram and Beatrice-Joanna. They are heterosexual couple living in a world where homosexuality and castration are heavily encouraged in order to curb the out of control world population. Breeding is shunned, a social faux pas. As poor crops and government law begin to come down on the people, they change to answer in strange and frightening ways.
It's an interesting take
...more
J
Apr 29, 2008 J rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
Orwell meet Burgess, Burgess meet Orwell. Do I say it? The Wanting Seed is an Orwellian imagining of a future wherein the earth is so taxed by overpopulation that homosexuality is encouraged and is necessary to achieve promotion in society. Food is rationed, families may have only one child, if any, media is controlled. All of this negation of fecundity is creating a backlash - crops are failing, animals are dying. Soon jackbooted thugs are patrolling the streets. People are drafted into a milit ...more
Jillian
Burgess has created a dystopia in which it's a sin to have sisters, a crime to have children, and a large ancestry can cost you your job. The story opens with Beatrice-Joanna Foxe receiving her "consolation" gift following the death of her infant son. She seeks solace in her brother-in-law Derek Foxe, whose career has grown thanks to his willingness to act gay. As spies and Beatrice-Joanna's husband learn of Derek's indiscretion, she is forced to head off to the Northern Provinces, where totalit ...more
Nicole
Jul 29, 2011 Nicole added it
This book offers a great story and a less discreet parody of society. It is highly critical of government interference, and more importantly those people who rise in government. It is a lighter Brave New World. On the face, it is a malthusian comedy as the back cover will suggest, but really it's that circle of societal affects that becomes apparent in dystopian novels. Our hero is unhappy but achieves in the society, and on some level whether an epiphany or something bad happens, he demonstrate ...more
Shruts
After seeing and reading A Clockwork Orange over 40 years ago, I burned through, and loved, every one of Anthony Burgess's novels that I could get my hands on. His use of satire on timely topical themes really connected. Civil Violence. The Cold War. Overpopulation. Government as Big Brother.

I devoured this novel then, and grabbed it at B&N when I spied it by chance last week.

In the rear view mirror, this novel truly does stand the test of time, largely because the central theme of governm
...more
Jen
This book is made for people who like weird comedies. This author wrote A Clockwork Orange, so be prepared for strangeness. I think this book is a very interesting look at our society of today. The futuristic society in the novel is a complete 180 of what we have right now and it really puts priorities into perspective. I recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind reading about love, loss, government corruption, starvation, cannibalism, all told in an upbeat and cheerful manner.

This book is a co
...more
Tyler Jones
Back in the early sixties Anthony Burgess wrote two books of speculative fiction. Both dealt how society would be structured when the increase in population and the decrease in resources had brought us to the breaking point. One of these two books, A Clockwork Orange became one of the most popular books of its time. And rightly so. The other The Wanting Seed has faded into obscurity - again also rightly so in my opinion.

Unlike her brother Orange, Miss Seed tries too hard to please. She tries to
...more
Blanca
Jun 17, 2007 Blanca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of dsytopian fiction
Shelves: fiction
Reminiscent of Children of Men, this novel takes place in the not-so-distant future and the messy man/woman relationship necessary to procreate has been eradicated.

The last couple left in love is in hiding because one is a high-ranking officer who should be above an emotional relationship with a woman. And she's married to his brother.

I was surprised I had never heard of this book before. Burgess is a treasure beyond Clockwork Orange.
Terri
Oct 27, 2007 Terri rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I love this book. I haven't read Clockwork Orange, but I have read many of Anthony Burgess' other books and this is by far my favorite. The story is set in an extremely overpopulated future. Fascinating plot, intriguing ideas, plenty of social commentary and Burgess' signature use of made up words. Starts a little slow (as most of his books do) but once you get into it you won't be able to put it down. Definitely leaves you thinking when you finish it.
CJ
If Vonnegut and Huxley dragged George Orwell into an alley and brutally molested him, this book would be the result. I'd always heard that Anthony Burgess regretted that he was most famous for A Clockwork Orange but this book really drives that point home. There is so much going on in this book. The fifth section alone could be fleshed out into its own novel.
Leah
Required reading in high school, however, I absolutely loved this novel. The Wanting Seed is THE reason I began reading books like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I loved the setting of the novel, and how terrifyingly realistic it was.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone, and I would recommend Anthony Burgess' other works as well.
daVe! paige
a hillariously unsettling dystopian dream of an overpopulated world, where wars are fought against nobody, your rationed meat is probably your nextdoor neighbor, and "it's sapiens to be homo." Burgess is famous for "a clockwork orange," but this book fucking rules.
Christina
This is an amazing book set in the future. My favorite line is "It's sapien to be homo!" The world is overpopulated, infanticide is legal, if your child dies you get money from the government, homosexuality is encouraged. Anthony Burgess is a genius!
Jacob Anderson
It's a good thing I chose to read A Clockwork Orange (my favorite novel) first. Had The Wanting Seed been my introduction to Burgess's work, I'd never feel inclined to approach any of his writing again. It's boring, unfocused, silly, unrealistic, cliched, homophobic, racist and misogynistic. In regard to those latter few complaints, it's true that an author is a product of his or her time period. Great literature may contain offensive themes. This is not great literature, though. The characters ...more
Adam
Strange. Funny. Scary. Thought-provoking. Pretty much the way you can sum up anything Burgess wrote.
Herman brown
better than a clockwork orange. the man is effing brilliant.
April
It came off as too sexist and homophobic for me to enjoy it at all.
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Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days o ...more
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