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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee

One of my recent reads has been Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee, an alternate history novel published in 1955.  The book is a curious one which presents two possible, paradoxical realities:  One in which the Confederacy wins, and one in which the Confederacy loses the Civil War.  According to Wikipedia, Philip K. Dick stated that he was in part inspired to write his 1962 Axis Victory novel, The Man in the High Castle, by Moore's earlier work (although I've been unable to find the source for this statement immediately). 

If the Confederacy wins, then one (in Moore's book at least) ends up with two countries rather than one grudgingly united one.  Moore's work takes place in the abbreviated, impoverished United States.  As with Dick's later novel, the presentation is subtle.  One doesn't find the obvious material, occupying greycoats in Moore's book or strutting German (or Japanese) soldiers in Dick's book.  The pertinent action in The Man in the High Castle takes place offstage at times, as when his character Frank Frink contemplates the German Nazi campaign of genocide in Africa.

Bring the Jubilee falls into the Bildungsroman mold, in which the narrator, Hodge Backmaker, discovers his potentialities as he leaves "Wappinger" Falls, New York, and lives in New York City, then in the retreat of Haggershaven.  The ramifications of a possible Confederate victory post -Civil War seem at times incidental to Backmaker's development.  While I liked the novel, the strongest and most poignant part is the last few chapters, in which Backmaker finds himself forever stranded from his ideal world.

Photograph:  The Inauguration of Jefferson Davis, Alabama State Capitol Building, February 18, 1861.

2 comments:

  1. American SF writers seem particularly eager to write about the Confederates winning the Civil War. I like these kind of alternate history stories as long as the point of divergence is realistic. Nice photo BTW, never seen it before.

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  2. I'm a latecomer to reading alternate history fiction myself, but it's an intriguing genre.

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