THE WORLD WITHOUT WOMEN - Virgilia Martini - translated by Emile Capouya - The Dial Press New York - 1971 

copyright 1936 by Virgilia Martini

Translation copyright 1971 by The Dial Press

LC card number 72-144379

Printed in the United States of America

Book Design by Mel Brofman

First printing, 1971


Also by Virgilio Martini

Tornare un passo indietro

La Terra senza il Sole

L'età imbecille


001 72-144379 r83

50 PZ3.M36727Wo [PQ4829.A782]

100 Martini, Virgilio.

240 Mondo senza donne.  English.

245 The world without women. Translated by Emile Capouya.

260 New York, Dial Press, 1971.

300 xvii, 125 p. 24 cm.

350 $5.95

500 Translation of Il mondo senza donne.

082 853/.9/14

041 engita

040 DLC DLC DLC

005  19830108000000.0



Contents (vii-viii)


Author's Preface ix

Part One

The End-of-the-World Craze 3

The Infallibility of Science 7

Falloppitis 11

Terror 15

Karolus III 17

Revolution 23

N'bambo 29

An Apostrophe 33

The Gynophagous Spirobacicoccus 37

Muscles Procopio 41

La Belle Otero 45

Truth and Consequence 53

Year-End Report 57


Part Two

The Ape is Descended from Man 61


Part Three

Barthold's Oath 67

Beard and Guitar 71

Samuel the Altruist 75

Shivering Posterity 77

Geo Maatschippij 79

Sleeping Beauty in the Theater 85

The Perfect Sovereign State 87

Fifteen Minutes with Rebecca 91

National Holiday 93

Plus One 95

Hymeneal 101

The National Treasures Building 105

Eve 109

Aptheosis of Rebecca 113


Part Four

As in the Beginning 121



Author's Preface to the Sixth Italian Edition or
One Suppression and Two Lawsuits


The central idea of The World Without Women came to me in 1933, in mid-Atlantic, in a third-class cabin of the Virgilio, which was carrying me back to America for the third time.

Life's accidents - the sordid necessity of earning my keep - that drove me Ecuador to El Salvador, then to Nicaragua, then to Honduras, kept me from starting work on the tale for some time.  In 1935 I was in Ecuador again, and at last I could take pen in hand.  Two chapters in Ambato, one in Riobamba, several in La Libertad, the last ones in Guayaquil - and the book was finished.


The First Edition

It was published in Guayaquil the following year, with this note by way of preface:

The real name of “Letrusco” is well known in Ecuador as one belong to a prominent family.  Possibly it might have a familiar ring in various countries of Europe and the Americas in which Letrusco has spent time … In any case, he fell in love with one country, Italy, and one region of that country, Tuscany.  His choice of pseudonym testifies to that passion.  … The World Without Women is the first book of his to see the light.  It was written in Spanish, but the author himself has translated it into Italian, desiring that the book be known and judged in the country where he learned about life and, if we are not mistaken, about letters.


A departure from fact in this prologue was the nationality attributed to my father and to me - we were in fact Italian, not Ecuadorean.  (It was a happy notion to disguise the truth.  My family has always lived in Florence; publishing the book under my own name would probably have put them in the soup.)  Of course I had written the book in Italian originally.  The notice printed on the title page, "Translated from the Spanish by Letrusco,” and the phrase in the preface, “…in Italian, a language that he knows as well as he does his own tongue,” were mere equivocations.


The Suppression

The book was sent to the leading publishers of Europe and the United States. … published to bad reviews


The Translations

A publishing house in Prague bought the Czech publishing rights from me, paying me an advance in sterling, and had a translation prepared.  Then came the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, and its sequel.  The translation never appeared.

A publisher in Paris offered me an advance against royalties for a French edition.  I made the mistake of answering that the sum proposed was too modest.  Later, I was told that without my knowledge two unauthorized translations had been made.  With my approval, the translator Suzanne Flour made a third.  As far as I know, none of these was ever published.

Then a request for an option came from the United States.  But the American publisher eventually sent the book back to me, “for reasons that will be apparent from our reader's report.”  The reader had written that “Letrusco may be the successor to Blasco Ibánez in the Spanish-speaking literary world. …. Despite appearances, there is no pornography in the book… [the author] has been quite high-minded throughout.”  He added that if certain scabrous passages were cut, one could even make a film out of the story “that would be at least as successful as the one made from H.G. Wells's book…. In spite of the scandal it may give rise to, the house should secure book rights and film rights.”

I do not see the connection with Blasco Ibanez.  I do know that publishers care little about art and a lot about business.  I do know that publishers care little about art and a lot about business.  …

Finally, the book was translated into Spanish, and offered to the leading publishers in Buenos Aires.  They all declined - morality, again!




The Revisions

I spent the war in an enemy country, Venezuela, where at that time there were fewer than three thousand Italians in residence.  … read and revised the book … 

From 1936, the year of its first publication, to 1954, when the second edition appeared, I kept on revising it, as patiently as eighteen long years - twice the period advised by Horace.

But those eighteen years allowed me to improve the entire work, and to delete whatever a reader, judging in good faith, might have felt to be contrary to decency.  When I would publish the book again, no one would be able to find anything objectionable in it.  So I imagined.


The Second and Third Editions

Having returned to Italy and settled permanently there, in 1954 I founded the literary review Coccodrillo, which lasted for a year and a half, and which, I flatter myself, was less idiotic than ninety-nine percent of the Italian weeklies.  The novel appeared in installments in the columns of the review, from July 18 to October 3. …


The First Trial

Florence, January 24, 1955.  Defense counsel Mr. Renzo Carena defended it …


The Second Trial

no offence upehdl Under Article 523, upholds January 24, 1955 sentence, in re Virgilio Martini and appealed by the Public Prosecutor.


The Other Editions

Florence 1956

Bologna 1967

says can't imagine why censored, no pornography, not at all sexually exciting.  

But I imagine that in the first instance the morality business was merely a pretext for the suppression of the book by the fascists.  The real reason was surely political: the book caricatured dictatorship, even though it also caricatured democracy and anarchy.  N'bambo, the black emperor of the novel, bore too close a resemblance to Mussolini - and to the other dictators.  Even the manner of N'Bambo's death, conceived in 1935, resembled the manner of Mussolini's death, which occurred ten years later.

When I reissued the novel in Florence, I thought that I was protected by one of the many freedoms proclaimed during and after the Second World War.  Fifty or sixty million human beings had died fighting for those freedoms between 1939 and 1945, or had died fighting against them, or as victims of the combatants.  If I am wrong about that, then it was really not worth while piling up so many dead.

But, on the contrary, those proclaimed freedoms did not suffice.  Once more morality subjected me to two trials, something I find absolutely incomprehensible.

But the regime that suppressed the book's first edition is over and done with.  And the current regime, more or less democratic, recognizes - apparently - the freedom to laugh or to smile.  Or so the Florentine judges ruled in 1955 and 1956.

-- Virgilio Martini


The End-of-the-World Craze


On January 1 of the year 2000, various news broadcasters and several magazines of a religious bent predicted the speedy end of the world.  Thereafter, other news programs and magazines began to talk and write about it.  … “They all agreed - the scientists of the Old and New Worlds alike, the President of Europe and the King of America as well as the Duke of Africa and the Mikado of Australia - in attaching no importance whatsoever to the theory or fantasy of the end of the world.”


the state did not recognize religion in 2000.  they were chartered as ordinary corporations.  various religious corporations made a lot of profit off these prohpecies.  but generally it wasn't taken seriously.  By april and the World Superolympics in Honolulu everyone had forgotten about it.



The Infallibility of Science - p 7

Then in June a report:


“a curious disease that killed women attacked the island of Haiti.”  Scientists reported that “in any case, its ravages were limited to the black race.  At once the disease was baptized, by God knows whom, “Negritis.”  Then the disease atacked women of every color in Antilles.  They renamed the disease “Antillitis” or “Miquelitis.”  Then the epidemic spread throughout the world and was renamed “Tropicalitis,” then “Americanitis,” then the rest of the world - doctors predicted that “no woman between the ages of fourteen and forty-five, more or less, would escape the mysterious and terrifying “falloppitis.”” 


Falloppitis- p 11

The onset of falloppitis was accompanied by a mild itching in the Bartolin glands that soon spread to the Fallopian tubes.  Pleasurable at first, the itching increased until it was unbearable.

[The disease's second phase was characterized by insomnia, vertigo, nausea, colic, very loud borborygmic noises, and many other symptoms.  Then swelling.  Then intense pain and death, overall within 2 weeks; gallopinng falloppitis ran its full course in only 3 days.  Removing Falloppian tubes, ovaries, or uterus did not save the women.]


Terror - p 15

June thousands of victims, July hundreds of thousands, millions thereafter.  Girls became stricken as soon as periods started.  Insane asylums overflowed - madmen and madwomen roamed the streets.  “By the end of July, terror, madness and crime were rampant all over the world.”



Karolus III - p 17

On the first of August a radio broadcast.  By Jully 31, more than 15 million women had already died.  Karolus spoke in Esperanto the official language of the Scientific Religion.  They say the world will end.  Exhort men to prepare to die and to give away their money.  So did the heads of a lot of other religions.  “Thus spake a further 192 heads of religious enterprises.  But since their firms were not well known in the market, the customers paid scant attention.”



Revolution - p 23

[The “Seelezeitung” broadcast inspired a revolution.  President of Europe issued a proclamation saying that since the religion had referred to people as sheep they would be dissolved and arrested.] 


Right here the catastrophe began.

Instead of feeling insulted at being called “sheep,” men and women everywhere - especially women - were delighted by it. 

[The W.R.A.G. became much more popular.  The mob tore the arresting officers to bits, crying “Heil, grosser Meister!”  The people tried to have him coronated; the police retaliated; there was frightful massacres; rebels destroyed the government; the army dissolved into two factions, the Loyalists and the Scientists.  Then:]

A new group had come to birth in the Iberian Provinces - the Pacifist International - and it had taken up arms against all comers.  Ten million combatants and non-combatants had already been killed.  Then it was twenty million.  Thirty million.  More.

The nameless massacre went on.