Review by Sue Glynn
Publisher: Fum d’Estampa Press March 2021
ISBN 978-1916293946 PB
This is a rather unusual book. First appearing in 1974 in Catalan, it has recently been published in English for the first time. The author Llorenç Villalonga, who died in 1980, was a well known Majorcan writer and Andrea Víctrix is one of his later works.
The unnamed narrator of the book, having been cryogenically frozen in 1965 at the age of 60, comes back to life in 2050 to find a very different world. His home town Palma de Majorca has been renamed Turclub (Tourist Club) under the new slogan PROGRESS CANNOT BE STOPPED.
Soon he meets his first inhabitant of the new world, Andrea Víctrix, DIrector of Pleasure, and begins to see how different things are. The car is king and pedestrians are seen as fair game if they impede the traffic flow. Moreover their deaths under cars’ wheels keep the population under control and are the predominant way of dying. Gender is fluid and everyone wears Roman type clothing. Human reproduction takes place in vitro. Consumption of manufactured goods is encouraged but food as we know it does not exist and is all liquid. In short, ‘industry is sacred and millionaires are saints’.
This may seem like a dystopian version of present day society but the population is mostly content due to the widespread use of drugs (echoes of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World). The United States of Europe is the predominant economic power in the world, the United States of America and Russia having destroyed each other due to an accidental triggering of the nuclear bomb. The narrator is introduced to this alien society by Andrea who is a knowledgeable guide and he becomes close to her. The plot follows his changing relationship with her as resistance grows to the government and society in general. It is, however, also a book full of discussions between the characters about the social and political benefits and problems of the 2050 world as opposed to the life the narrator has come from.
But the main pleasure of reading this book for me was to marvel at how the author, writing in 1971, has predicted so accurately how society is evolving. It is easy to see how many of the events of today seem to be leading to Villalonga’s 2050.
I must also mention the wonderful translation by P. Louise Johnson who is an expert on the works of Villalonga and teaches Andrea Víctrix at the University of Sheffield.