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Black Oxen

Gertrude Atherton

Book Overview: 

Lee Clavering, a young playwright falls in love with an Austrian countess, not noticing the adoring glances from the outgoing flapper, Janet. Unknown to the young lover, the object of his devotion is defying age with artifice in this controversial pseudo-science fiction romance.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The more insulting, the more ruthless, the more one-sided the disclosure of their irremediable faults and meannesses, the more voluptuous the pleasure. There had been reactions after the Civil War, but on a higher plane. The population had not been maculated by inferior races.

The young editors, critics, special writers were enchanted. This was Life! At last! Moreover, it was Democracy. These young and able men, having renounced their earlier socialism, their sense of humor recognizing its disharmony with high salaries and pleasant living, were hot for Democracy. Nothing paid like Democracy in this heaving world. The Democratic wave rose and roared. Symbolic was this violent eruption of small-town fiction, as realistic as the kitchen, as pessimistic as Wall Street. All virtue, all hope, all idealism, had gone out of the world. Romance, for that matter, never had existed and it was high time the stupid world was forcibly purged of its immemorial ill. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The story centers on the relationship between thirty-four year old columnist Lee Clavering, and Mary Zattiany, a 58 year old woman who, through modern science, has regained her youth (although this is unknown at the beginning, but is fairly easily guessed). The story takes place within New York’s...more

I was curious to read this book after reading about it in the Almanac. Gertrude Atherton was married to the son of the man Atherton, CA is named after. The book was a best seller in 1923. I found it interesting to see the similarities and differences in people's attitudes now and 90 years ago, in...more

this is turning into a science fiction novel

Science fiction..political commentary

Interesting in that it is written in that period between the World Wars, when there was an economic depression and political upheavals not even guessed at in the offing. I would venture to guess that the suggestion o...more

Wordy. Published in the early 1920s. Made into a movie with Clara Bow. Interesting historically.

This was interesting and well-characterised if prone to tacitly endorsing the worst of 1920s political and social attitudes - i.e. That one disturbing section about how rejuvenation procedures link naturally to eugenics, as they will allow the 'best' people to live longer and more productively. T...more

I've known about Gertrude Atherton for some time (since I was doing research on turn-of-the-century San Francisco and came across her name as one of the leading authors of the area) but I haven't had a chance to read any of her work until now. This book is, sadly, not set in San Francisco but I e...more

A very unusual mixture of AGE OF INNOCENCE with the fantasy fiction of H.G. Wells.

Into New York society enters a young Austrian Countess who sparks interest in the upper class, and among the flapper-prone Sophisticates. Part of the attraction is the appeal of the European elite. But, it is more t...more

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