What Not by Rose Macaulay with an introduction by Matthew de Abaitus
Paperback – MIT Pr – Oct 2022 – 211 pages
In a near-future England, a new government entity—the Ministry of Brains—attempts to stave off idiocracy through a program of compulsory selective breeding. Kitty Grammont, who shares author Rose Macaulay’s own ambivalent attitude, gets involved in the Ministry’s propaganda efforts, which the novel details with an entertaining thoroughness. (The alphabetical caste system dreamed up by Macaulay for her nightmare world would directly influence Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopia Brave New World.)
But when Kitty falls in love with the Minister for Brains, a man whose genetic shortcomings make a union with her impossible, their illicit affair threatens to topple the government. Because it ridiculed wartime bureaucracy, the planned 1918 publication of What Not was delayed until after the end of World War I.