- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classic (Oct. 28 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141395060
- ISBN-13: 978-0141395067
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #942,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Penguin Modern Classics Facial Justice Paperback – Oct 28 2014
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An exquisitely entertaining fantasy * Observer * The most exciting and exhilarating of Mr Hartley's novels * Listener * A brilliant projection of tendencies already apparent in the post-war British welfare state . . . Hartley was a fine writer with a strong moral sense -- Anthony Burgess Hartley spares us nothing; each horrid detail of this nightmare world is expertly driven home -- Peter Quennell
About the Author
Leslie Poles Hartley, known as L. P. Hartley, was a British novelist and short storywriter. His best-known novels are the Eustace and Hilda trilogy (1947) and The Go-Between (1953). The latter was made into a 1971 film, directed by Joseph Losey with a star cast, in an adaptation by Harold Pinter. Its opening sentence, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there", has become almost proverbial. His 1957 novel The Hireling was made into a critically acclaimed film of the same title in 1973.
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In the dystopia, this philosophy is taken to its logical extreme. For example, persons who are ugly are coerced to have a neutral face. Persons who are beautiful are coerced to have the same neutral face. That way, aesthetically, everyone is equal. In the novel, a beautiful woman rebels against the rule of mediocrity
Jael is a somewhat antipodean rebel, who doesn't want her face to be "Beta'd", which is plastic surgery that makes all women the same. She forms a rebel group and initiates attacks on the regime, etc.
I found the denouement a bit far-fetched and absurd, but still, the novel is well-written and presents some common themes found in dystopian novels.
"Darling Dictator, Darling Dictator".
This Perfect Day (1970) by Ira Levin
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell
A Clockwork Orange (1962) by Anthony Burgess
Aniara (1956) by Harry Martinson
We (1921) by Yevgeny Zamyatin
R.U.R. (1920) by Karel Capek
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
Facial Justice (1960) by L. P. Hartley
One (1953) by David Karp
Kallocain (1940) by Karin Boye
The Children's Campaign by Pär Lagerkvist
Facial Justice was quite an eye-opener in much the same way that Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World has been. Another good book was Eric Hoffer's The True Believer. The drive for absolute mind-numbing equality in all things -- particularly those which evoked envy, resentment, and feelings of inferiority was driving at a fever pitch in the late 1960s. All forms of hierarchy was up for criticism and it didn't particularly matter whether it was earned and deserved or not. Feminism became the new Marxism-Leninism. I recall a kind of folk concert where a couple of players who performed exceptionally well were asked to leave for their "elitist" performance. It was a crazy time.
The idea that natural endowments, whether in intelligence, skills, atheletic or musical ability, and in physical appearance were unearned and merely devices to demonstrate superiority and evoke feelings of envy, inferiority, and class was part of Facial Justice's message. People, usually women, who were particularly beautiful or sexy were required to have "normalization" surgery to reduce them to a plain generic appearance. This was not always done voluntarily but it did lead to "Facial Justice," in terms of equality.
"Facial Justice" grabs on to a thread that exists in all class struggle and economic equality movements, the taking from the strong, intelligence and productive to give to the lazy, unable, incompetent and parasitic. Rather than face the reality of human inequality eqalitarians would rather stoop to this kind of theft to disguise it. Any political philosopher would do well to read this book.