The Virility Factor: A Novel by Robert Merle. Translated from the French by Martin Sokolinsky.
Weidenfeld and Nicolson: London
Translation copyright 1977 by Martin Sokolinsky.
First published in Great Britain in 1977 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 11 St. John's Hill, London SW11
Originally published in France under the title Les Hommes Protégés, copyright 1974 by Editions Gallimard.
ISBN 0 297 77431 X
Printed in Great Britain by Redwood Burn Limited, Trowbridge & Esher.
To Catherine or to Sébastien
in president's office for a briefing on an epidemic (called encephalitis 16, or E-16). Doctor Ralph Martinelli notes sexism: thinks of his wife's bitterness at the misogynistic climate that prevents her from being a cabinet official; notices sexism in the men's treatment of a female aide. the disease strikes only sexually active males.
man with 10-year-old child, son of first wife (died six years ago).
comments on reverse women - that women like him because he is italian where formerly they would not have liked him. resists the desire to kiss his child who disapproves; discusses his home life - that his ex-mother-in-law wanted custody of his child when she learned of his affair with the woman he then had to marry. the E-16 story is leaked to the press. an election is coming, and a woman is selected to be vice-presidential running mate to sherman (running opposite the current president).
p. 25: “I frowned. There were several shades of women's libbers, and Sarah Bedford belonged to the hard-liners.”
Sherman is elected; Sarah Bedford becomes president one month later when Sherman falls victim to the epidemic.
Protagonist takes his child and goes to do research on the virus.