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The Harrad Experiment

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A new-age "experiment" takes place in the 1960s at Harrad College, a privately endowed and liberally run school that admits carefully selected students. This social experiment encourages premarital living arrangements and is totally committed - not mere lip-service or public-relations hype - to getting young men and women to think and act for themselves.

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Paperback, 25th Anniversary Edition, 324 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Prometheus Books (first published 1966)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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Luna Corbden
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: polyamory
The Harrad Experiment is set in the 1960s, and tells of a college established to form new styles of looking at relationships. It is written in diary-style, by four of the fictional students, covering their four years there.

This is an interesting book, which at the time of its publication, was revolutionary. Keep in mind it was written when censorship was considered a good thing, by an author who had to travel to India to get a copy of the Kama Sutra.

I was surprised to learn that during the first
I first read this book back in the 60's when it was first published. At the time, it was a bold, exciting view of life as we wanted it, back in the day. I remember coming home from a date and not being able to find my copy; I asked the parents and was told they had thrown it out (and they let me read ANYTHING) because I had left "that trash out" for my younger (12 yr old) brother to read. (Who already knew all about the subject, since he was an extremely early bloomer.)

I bought another copy with
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Robert H. Rimmer
The Harrad Experiment (1966)

Robert H. Rimmer has been considered, by experts, as a rather mediocre author but he has always insisted on integrating his political and social ideals into his novels in the manner of Upton Sinclair (e.g., The Jungle). When this book was originally published in 1966, the publisher marketed the book as a titillating book about sex. This was highly misleading. Though there are scenes of intimacy in the book, it really concerns the relation of love to se
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I found this book in the 60's in Australia... and it was changing the life of so many people then : getting away from "normal" puritan life into happiness, congenial relationships ! Someone was saying we were right to act as we thaught was wiser : Robert Rimmer !
A lot of people,in the States, beleived the book to be realistic and wanted their kids to join the Experiment !
Later on, I read all of this author's books.
As for the film, I found it a bit awkward; yet, most of my friends who saw it l
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A friend of mine recommended me this author, and Harrad Experiment was the first one I've read. I remember how delightfull I felt by discovering such open and conforting ideas, contrasting with the so boring and conventional way of life usually on course !
I have adopted now this philosophy in my life and have recovered joy and taste of life : have wonderful friends ans relationships !
So called "utopias" are not only brilliant theories but realistic and enjoyable ways of living Real Life !
Wes Bishop
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Good book. Interesting ideas on sex, relationships, personal/psychological development, and Malow's ideas. However it is also a testament to the free love movement as much as it is to psychology. ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
this was so unique when it was written, but now, this is how it is in all colleges (well, not the religious ones)
Teresa Thompson Arcangel
I don't remember what I thought of this book. I just remember hiding it under the mattress. Times were different then. ...more
Feb 27, 2021 rated it liked it
My high school actually assigned this to read in English class, I forget in which grade, so I’m re-reading out of curiosity. My parents pretty much let me read anything (I also found my mother’s copy of The Sensuous Woman, my sister’s copy of The Happy Hooker and the whole neighborhood passed around a battered copy of The Godfather, to read the dirty parts) and somewhat surprisingly I don’t remember any other parents freaking out over it. So far I’m finding it mostly naive and idealistic with so ...more
Mia Mann
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Rimmer goes on a sociological bent about how to create a perfect society, rather than share details of how people truly interested in an open, loving relationship can conquer the issues. This is in contrast to what I tried to do with my book, Fourplay. Similar to Rimmer in writing from 4 people's perspective (2 men, 2 women), the two differ in depicting the emotional hurdles that are part of living in a real world, rather than a false, Utopian one. Additionally, four decades later, I added quite ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not many people will admit having read this book, but I will join the small cadre of brave souls who are going on record as having done so. A college where there are not only co-ed dorms but co-ed rooms -- and you're expected to sleep with your roommate! It's every college guy's fantasy, and it really doesn't get any better than this. That said, we'll overlook the somewhat lame plot and dialogue . . . I'm sure at the time I read it (in college) I would have given it five stars! ...more
Apr 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Dug this up again recently after realizing I remembered only the subject, but no details. An interesting read, as it's based on the journal entries of a group of students from Harvard and Radcliffe in the 60's living out a social experiment. Pretty trippy even by today's standards. And leaves you wondering what happened to the grads' long-term plans for society. ...more
Terry Cornell
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, drama
Picked up this used copy when I was in college--primarily for the bibliography when I was taking a psychology class. I found the relationship development parts of the book interesting, some of the crazy, wacko, sixties college antics a little annoying. I thought the ending was very contrived, and some of the Utopian ideas espoused somewhat boring.
Gary Lyndaker
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and still ahead of its time. I read it in 1967 and again in 2018. Rimmer's vision of more open loving (and intimate) relationships is still an ideal that, I believe, has merit. The last 50 years has only proven that the so-called "traditional" monogamous marriage is a failing concept, leading to more pain than stability.

I wonder if, 50 years from now, we will have moved in this direction or if consumerist and "religious" forces will perpetuate the current failure.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Basically a polemic in favor of a world part Tinder and part eHarmony, I first read this as a college student in the 60s. Back then, I read it mostly for the sex - a soft porn love story, if you will. Every generation before and since thinks that it invented sex and wants to throw that in the faces of their elders. Sigh. My own mother spoke of telling my dad that she’d slide down the bannister to keep “it” warm for him. In any case, this book has become naively preachy in the ensuing years.
Chris Gager
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Don't remember much of this one. Pretty innocuous, if a bit sexy. I recalled this one thanks to Halliwell's movie book. And ... this author wrote another book that I read BITD but whose title I couldn't remember. Thanks Leslie! ...more
Tony Fecteau
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was a little boring and very dated. The concepts have since matured and we all are more aware of polyamory in this day and age.
Brooke  Penney
Feb 02, 2021 rated it did not like it
This was stupid. I don't suggest it. ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Another "book of the Sixties" embodying much of the idealism that that decade signifies. (Having lived through the whole of the Sixties I can assure you that it was only a little like what you've been reading and hearing.) The concept Rimmer wrote about did soon come to fruition but it was not driven by some philanthropist with a mission. The first college I attended had a policy of in loco parentis when I matriculated but less than two years later half the dorms and probably a quarter of the ro ...more
Jul 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, polyamory
What do I think of this book? It is certainly a sign of it's time. There is much I agree with and enjoyed in what he has to say but in the end, I had to disagree with the Utopian world they tried to put forth in the last bit. It sounded too socialistic for my tastes. Give up certain freedoms and we'll give you this wonderful world of happiness. Maybe I'm too much of a cynic but I don't see it working. I do believe in the joy of giving and receiving love (and it doesn't have to include sex) and f ...more
Edward Beale
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Although a bit preachy, I enjoyed the interplay of four journal entries as the narrative device. It was probably shocking at the time of first publication (1966), but the theme was right for the times. I saw many parallels and either homages to, or direct pulls from, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land published five years earlier, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress of the same year. Heinlein humanized the concepts better in my opinion, with higher entertainment value. However, Rimmer applies th ...more
Richard Epstein
When I was in college, Rimmer's novel was the epitome of daring -- and, I presume*, the ultimate stroke book. I don't know for sure how it has held up, and I have no intention of rereading it, but my guess is that it would seem as quaint as a Shaker quilt. (BTW, the movie had Crockett in it, but not Tubbs.)

* because, of course, I have no ... um ... first-hand knowledge
Sep 03, 2014 added it
Thinking about books I read that I remember for some reason or another. I remember this one cause it was probably the first book that I hid from my parents. So, read this back in the 60s maybe early 70s and thought it was "cool". Co-ed rooms, oh my. Back then there weren't even co-ed dorms. Don't remember much more than all the sex but it did make an impression. ...more
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
This was racy in the 60s, my parents owned it, and I read it in hiding, behind a stuffed chair set in the corner. I loved the sex scenes, which made it memorable for a 12 year old! I should read it again from a half-century-old perspective.
May 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
A little dated in the 43 years since it was written. I kept thinking that the plan to move to their Utopia wouldn't work in this socio-political polarized environment. But overall the book was good. I'm sure it was more shocking in 1966. ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
I have no idea how to rate this. I read it in 7th grade. It was another gift from my English teacher. I just remember a lot of sex in a coed dorm. I'm thinking about rereading it because I think there was more to it than that. ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another book that had a strong influence on me and served to help me open my mind to odd and "wicked" ideas. Best read when in your 20s. Rimmer was either a visionary or a crackpot. Either way, he made me think. ...more
J. Walker
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book back when it was originally out in paperback, probably in college, unless like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, I borrowed it from my town library, which is always possible.
Published in 1966, it was a frank an exploration of sex and sexuality as a teenager was apt to find at the time.
May 05, 2008 rated it liked it
It's a sexual revolution, man. ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it
I remember reading this in College. The free-love bible. Not much here except the stories of students finding out about life through casual sex.
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