Read I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman Online


A work of fantasy, I Who Have Never Known Men is the haunting and unforgettable account of a near future on a barren earth where women are kept in underground cages guarded by uniformed groups of men. It is narrated by the youngest of the women, the only one with no memory of what the world was like before the cages, who must teach herself, without books or sexual contact,A work of fantasy, I Who Have Never Known Men is the haunting and unforgettable account of a near future on a barren earth where women are kept in underground cages guarded by uniformed groups of men. It is narrated by the youngest of the women, the only one with no memory of what the world was like before the cages, who must teach herself, without books or sexual contact, the essential human emotions of longing, loving, learning, companionship, and dying. Part thriller, part mystery, I Who Have Never Known Men shows us the power of one person without memories to reinvent herself piece by piece, emotion by emotion, in the process teaching us much about what it means to be human....

Title : I Who Have Never Known Men
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781888363432
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

I Who Have Never Known Men Reviews

  • Kim Z
    2019-05-26 14:27

    The library categorizes this as sci-fi. The situation puts it in that genre, but the story is much simpler. A woman has grown up imprisoned with a group of other women. She has no memory of a world outside their mysterious bunker. The book is the story of a woman learning to think and live without exposure to what most would consider a normal society. Many reviews say how this book explores "what it means to be human." It does that in a way, but that description makes it sound far more pretentious than this book is. I look at this more as exploring how we become who we are. It also explores what makes things important.The title and the premise may make this sound like a feminist book. It is not. The superiority, inferiority, or equality of genders is not made an issue. There is only one gender present, so there is only one gender described. I won't say the genders could simply be reversed, but think this book would be meaningful to men as well (as long as they don't get squeamish at the occasional mention of menstruation).

  • Dan
    2019-06-24 13:46

    4 stars because I've never shaken it.Probably because I found myself thinking the other day about Oryx and Crake and then realized their "Last Person on Earth" genre similarities made them genial companions.It's a haunting book where women are imprisoned by men for no real reason in a hidden bunker--and then one day, the men leave, the women are freed--but everyone else is dead and gone.It's a slow and dreary wind-down to the conclusion. I wanted to hate it, I should hate it--and yet I don't. In fact, I'll see if I can locate myself a copy at Amazon and relive the experience again at a later date.

  • Sandi
    2019-06-11 14:45

    I read this book about seven years ago and still think about it to this day. It is like nothing I've ever read before or since. The concept is simple yet profound. The writing (I believe it was translated from the french original but I could be wrong) is stark and simple, fitting the story perfectly. I can't recommend this book enough.

  • Susan
    2019-06-13 13:45

    This is a thought-provoking read. It was listed under the post-apocalypse-futuristic-dystopia genre, but in my mind, it's much more of a psychological-sociological thriller. (That won't make it sound appealing to many, since I may be one of a very small group who would consider sociology to be thrilling. But for that very small group--this is a gem!)A group of women and one child are kept locked up in an underground cave following an unspecified apocalypse. The unnamed child is the only one who remembers nothing of the "outside world," having been there almost her whole life. She has no family. The other women are not allowed to touch her and barely speak to her. She thus grows up left very much to herself to figure out various aspects of life.Note: This is not science fiction. There is no cathartic moment when the details of the disaster fall into place. If you're looking for that, you will be sorely disappointed. Although it felt somewhat unsatisfying in that aspect, it was more than thorough in its philosophical exploration of human consciousness--both collective and individual. It sticks with you after you've finished.

  • Jimmy
    2019-06-13 13:54

    Strange premise (I won't go into the details here, since EVERY review of this book summarizes the plot, I don't feel like I need to). The premise only spurs more and more questions without resolving them. I am not unsatisfied with the unsolved questions, as those unsolved questions are the whole point of the novel. It's nice for the brain to keep moving, just as the protagonist does in this story, walking from cabin to cabin, alone and thinking out the mysteries. It's a book where the questions are supposed to stay with you long after you read it, to haunt you.Also, makes me think: how are our lives different from hers? Yes we have a bunch of luxuries, and cities, and many more THINGS. But ultimately what do we have? We have each other. But some of us still die alone. We have our knowledge… we have known men. We have known life, we've “lived” so to speak. But that just goes to highlight how much we haven't lived, how much we still don't and can't know.If everything is relative, what does it mean to be a human with no other humans to be "in relation to." You pretty much don't exist. I loved imagining myself in her predicament, it didn't fill me with dread but an odd excitement. Maybe I'm just weird, since everyone on here is talking about how bleak it is. And I acknowledge that it is that too, but also exciting... I imagine the mysteries of my life being maybe in the next bunker or over the next hill. What strange things will I find there and what will it reveal about the true meaning of my life? It's like one of those really open ended video games where you just go exploring and exploring.Despite the name, it's not really a “feminist” book, although it is written from a decidedly feminine position, a female character going through female specific things (if it were a group of males stranded in the unknown landscape, how would that dynamic have been different?)Reminded me of Wittgenstein's Mistress, We Who Are About To..., and The Handmaid's Tale

  • Laura Teague
    2019-06-02 15:34

    I read the edition with the alternative title 'Mistress of Silence' which I think sounds a lot better than the other one.It's a strange story set maybe in the future or on another planet about a young girl who suddenly becomes aware of her surroundings. She (she's never given a name)lives in an underground bunker with a group of women, who are all much older than her. The women have memories of their former lives but no understanding of how they came to be in the bunker.They live a very basic life and are kept in order by male guards who never actually interact with the women.One day, the women are woken by a siren and the guards have fled. The women manage to escape the bunker and go in search of some form of civilization (and perhaps, their former lives).One of the most unique books I've ever read - it stayed with me for days. It has a strange dreamlike quality about it and is simply but beautifully written.

  • LindaJ^
    2019-05-31 17:40

    I forget where I read about this book and why I bought it. It is a translation from French. The book was first published in France in 1995 and translated in 1997 by small press Seven Stories Press. The author has won many literary awards in France. It is a keeper.Even though the only living characters in this book are women, this book is universal. There has been an apocalypse. The main character and narrator of this book is a woman on the edge of death and alone on a world (could be earth but maybe not) with a tropical climate, some rivers, and some trees and underground cells where groups of 40 women or men were imprisoned for at least a decade before the alarm sounded and the guards vanished.The surviving woman is writing her story. She was imprisoned when a toddler. The other women in her cell assumed it was a mistake that she was put with them. They called her "child." She had no name. She has no memories of life before the cell. She starts writing her story from about the time she was 15 and acting like a teenager -- angry at the other women for perceived slights. The event occurs soon after -- the alarm sounds just as the guards are unlocking the cell to push in the days food. The guards take off, leaving the keys in the lock. The women leave the cell and climb a staircase to the surface, where there is no sign of the guards or anyone else. You can say the women are free but actually their prison has just been enlarged. The "child" outlives them all by over 20 years. She demands they teach her to read and to do basic math, even if she may never have use for it. She is smart, inquisitive, and hungry for knowledge. She is a survivor and her story is monumental.

  • Jesse Sprague
    2019-05-31 17:36

    I admit I have a soft spot for end of the world novels. This one, however, sat on my bookshelf for probably two years unread because I just wasn't up to a feminist view of an apocalypse. I am delighted I finally got around to reading it as it wasn't at all what I thought it was.First off the title is quite literal and had nothing to do with men cloistering women away or abusing them. The girl whose viewpoint we see from has simply never known men. The only existence she knows is one locked away underground with a group of older women.This book haunts me. Plot-wise there was little true action everything that 'happened' was mental beside a few events that spurred the mental growth onward. The girl, who is never given a name, is both a sad figure and one of extreme strength. But the reason this is a five star book, and the reason it haunts me, has nothing to do with her or with the plot.The world this is set in is probably the most upsetting apocalyptic world I have ever encountered. Answers are few and only raise more questions. To this day I am plagued by thoughts of what happened? And other questions I won't go into because it would spoil the book to pose too many of those questions here.

  • Jennifer
    2019-06-11 14:36

    This was the creepiest book I have read in a long time.There is a girl who is suddenly kidnapped, and wakes up in a cell surrounded by females, guarded by men. The women are directed to make food, go to the bathroom in public, sleep, and are never touched by men. The girl is the only girl amongst all the women, and because of the nature of their captivity, they see fit to never give her a name. And she does not learn a lot because no one ever teaches her. She asks, but sometimes the women do not want to talk about their previous lives.Without giving away the story, let me just say it goes in an unexpected direction, and it is the creepiest book I've read in a while (just to reiterate, again, how weird this book was start to finish).I'd recommend this book to feminists, science fiction lovers, and lovers of psychological thrillers.

  • Zola
    2019-05-25 20:49

    I wish I could have read this in its original language. Translated from the French, "I Who Have Never Known Men" is like the sound of a broken bell. It is jarring, disquieting, and profoundly saddening. The story carries you along through the mind of a female creature, I would hardly put her down as human, and yet it is a story about the loss of one's humanity. I would love to research the origins of this book, and Jacqueline Harpman's personal history.

  • Caitlin
    2019-06-01 13:33

    This one is weird and very depressing, we never get answers to the questions asked. But some how this book pulls it off. But it leaves you thinking and wondering and I'm not sure if I will ever get it out of my head.

  • Annette
    2019-06-13 19:56

    If I had to pigeonhole this, I guess I'd put it in SciFi. This book haunted me well after I put it down. Who are we as a society without our history? What makes us human? A girl wakes up, imprisoned in a cage with 39 other women. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. The other women reveal and conceal much about what has happend - pandemic, nuclear disaster, it's never clear. Eventually, the women escape their cage and begin to roam the landscape. Only to find themselves still alone. Many compare this to Kafka. For me, if I had to compare it to anything, it would be The Road. Equally bleak, equally open to numerous interpretations, ultimately hopeful (sort of) and one that will stay in your mind well after you finish it. This is not an easy read. If you're looking for a pick-me-up, don't pick this book. But if you're wanting a chance to read beyond, to ponder about humanity, this might be the book for you.

  • Yaya
    2019-05-31 15:29

    Man, this was BLEAK. It was kind of interesting. This book does not offer any sense of closure. I didn't think it would, but it didn't keep me from wanting it to. This is all about a woman, which remains nameless the entire time, telling us her life's story, starting with having no recollection of her life before being thrown in a cage with 39 other women as a child. She's the youngest and the only one amongst these women that has zero knowledge of life before being imprisoned. While these women have a past to refer to, (I'll just call her) "nameless" has zip, so is completely shaped by these strange circumstances, all the while inadvertently exposing some of the, what I find to be, ridiculous things humans do and think till this day.

  • The Lost Lola
    2019-05-31 19:35

    I bought this book 13 years ago and just now sat down to read it. Harpman writes a hauntingly realistic science fiction story set in a post apocalyptic world where a group of 40 women are imprisoned for unknown reasons. They live out their lives behind bars guarded by masked men who will not speak to them or let them know why they are imprisoned. The story is told from the point of view of the youngest resident, a girl on the cusp of puberty who has no name and no recollection of a world before the bars. It is from her eyes that the reader is pulled into this isolated world full of fear, longing, questions, and what it means to be human in a world where no one knows you even exist.

  • Silver Thistle {adores JAFF & TEOTWAWKI.Oh, and accronyms :P}
    2019-06-10 16:46

    Unsettling and very frustrating. Good story, but don't expect any questions to be answered. I turned the last page and still wasn't any the wiser as to what was going on. If you like Margaret Atwood you'll probably like this one too.

  • Natalie Carey
    2019-05-28 17:38

    Probably 3.5? Review to come.

  • Emily Warfield
    2019-06-04 20:32

    A bleak, beautiful, deeply moving allegorical story.

  • Ashley
    2019-06-09 18:38

    UPDATE: Okay, so I finished this book last night and I've been thinking so much about it that it affected my dreams last night. You could say my dream was pretty weird and a whole lot of uncomfortableness. But one thing that stood out to me was the fear I felt in the dream. It made me realize that except for the whip, there was almost nothing the MC was afraid of, there was nothing that brought her fear. Multiple times throughout the books either the MC or another character would point out different she was and how she would never know what had been before. One interaction that comes to mind is when Anthea and the MC are talking and Anthea points out that the MC belongs on the plains more than anyone else. Obviously, the MC agrees when she goes on to say this is her domain and she is the single proprietor of it. The more I think about this book, the more things that come to mind that hold a bit more significance than it did before.I'm not sure how to rate this. Actually, I'm not sure if I can even rate this. I didn't have many expectations going into this book but I think I expected a typical dystopian post-apocalypse type world novel. Or even a feminist novel. Or something within the realm of those two. But really, if you go into this book expecting some kind of closure upon the last page, you will not be receiving it. You might be expecting something, whatever that something is though, stop expecting it. Because this book is nothing like what you could expect. I advise anybody wanting to read an adventurous, fun, easy-going novel, this is not your piece of pie. This book will turn your thoughts more than likely. I'm not sure what I am taking away from this or if there really is anything to take away from it. This book just makes me feel weird. Therefore I'm not going to rate it anything.

  • Stella Parks
    2019-06-05 19:33

    The prose is so spare, and the plot so stark, yet I always find this a compelling read (I've come back to it many times over the years). The author does so much with so little, the protagonist/narrator doesn't even have a name, but in leaving so many questions unanswered it sparks my imagination, curiosity, and dread.

  • Kristine Kornijanova
    2019-06-13 16:40

    Vai "..zināšanas mēdz būt sāpīgākas par neziņu. [un vai] Patiesību ne vienmēr var pārdzīvot" ?

  • l.
    2019-06-15 21:32

    Well that was depressing.

  • Miles
    2019-06-07 21:54

    Dark and doesn't get any resolution.

  • Cindy
    2019-06-11 18:48

    I'm about to fall apart.

  • Sooz
    2019-05-25 21:33

    i've wanted to read this book for years. because i am a fan of sci fi and post apocalyptic. because the title is intriguing. and because it had a pretty good rating here on Goodreads.i don't think it is particularly well known - or easily found in the usual bookstores - new or used - but it is readily available on .... given i've wanted to read it for years? was it worth it? yeah. i'd say it is short and rather sparse which perfectly mirrors the sparse plain landscape, as well as our narrator's sparse, plain life. the book is narrated but there is little dialogue and honestly little happens in terms of plot. it is not your usual sci fi or usual post apocalyptic novel, and I Who Have Never Known Men, does not fit into either genre. if you are looking for a lot of action or even a lot of interaction of characters this book may not be your cup, but i found it a refreshing view of one possible future? possible alternative universe? one possible something.

  • Biche
    2019-06-04 13:52

    3 / 3.5J'avoue ne pas savoir trop quoi dire sur ce livre...L'histoire était pourtant de base assez intrigante (Depuis des années, 40 femmes sont enfermées dans une cave mais ne savent pas pourquoi, jusqu'au jour où elles sont libérées sur une terre déserte), mais comme le personnage principal du roman, je me suis lancée dans une quête, malheureusement sans fin... Toutes les deux nous n'aurons jamais les réponses que nous aurions voulu avoir.Alors c'est d'un côté bien joué par l'auteur qui a bien réussi à me frustrer comme le perso principal, mais de l'autre on commence à se lasser dès la moitié du livre, à partir de laquelle on sent quelle fin l'auteur va nous servir...Il faut aussi que je précise que par moments le livre m'a fait VRAIMENT PEUR. Genre si vous avez une petite phobie de la mort et de notre utilité sur terre, vaudrait peut-être mieux éviter car parfois ça met beaucoup trop les pétoches avant d'aller dormir !

  • Laura
    2019-05-31 18:49

    I only discovered this book last year, but it instantly earned a spot on my top ten books of all time. A young girl, nameless even to herself, grows to womanhood imprisoned with a group of women. None of them know why they are there or what has happened in the outside world. For a time they are silently guarded by a small group of uniformed men, but they are forbidden from asking questions. When sirens break the monotony, the men disappear, and the women are forced to escape to avoid starvation. What they find is no better than their previous imprisonment. They wander a desolate land marked only by bunkers of women who weren’t fortunate enough to escape. The young narrator, being a child at the time of the mysterious catastrophe, long outlives her companions. The book serves as a contemplation of what it means to be human. Are you still human if you never touch another person, if the only voice you hear is your own? If you have no goals, no purpose in life?

  • Ieva
    2019-05-29 16:41

    Un atkal jau mani uzpirka grāmatas nosaukums. Ļoti nosacīti tā izrādījās distopija, bet tās ir tikai vārgas dekorācijas tam, kāpēc galvenā varone ir (nav) audzināta sabiedrībā un kāpēc paliek galā viena pati visā pasaulē. Tās ir tik ļoti nesvarīgas dekorācijas, ka mēs zinām tikai tik, cik varone pati - (view spoiler)[ mēs nekad neuzzinām, kas bija sargi un ko tie gribēja, mēs neuzzinām kāpēc bija vesela pazemes būru sistēma, mēs neuzzinām, kur sargi palika, mēs neuzzinām pat to, vai cilvēce tiešām beidza eksistēt un vai tā maz bija Zeme(hide spoiler)]Taču grāmata ļauj apdomāt, cik daudz no mūsu darbībām nosaka ieaudzinātais, cik daudz mēs vispār gribam zināt, un pat neatbildētie jautājumi šeit ir ar jēgu – tie tikai atgādina to, cik cilvēkam ir svarīgi un gribas zināt, pat ja neko tas nemaina un neietekmē.Un galu galā es brīnos, kāpēc “”Es, kas nepazinu vīriešus” ir ļoti maz zināma grāmata Jo to patiešām bija vērts izlasīt.

  • Lucie Lacoste
    2019-05-25 14:48

    J'avais commencé à lire Moi qui n'ai pas connu les hommes il y a deux ans sans le finir.Dans ce livre, 40 femmes dont une plus jeune que les autres "la petite" se retrouvent enfermées pendant plusieurs années dans une cave toutes ensembles surveillées par des gardiens. Elle ne savent pas comment elles sont arrivées là ni pourquoi elles sont là. La petite, qui est arrivé dans la cave très jeune, ne connaît pas la vie d'avant. Un jour une sonnerie retentit et les gardiens partent en laissant la clé sur la porte. Les 40 femmes sortent de la cave. La petite raconte l'histoire. C'est la plus jeune, c'est elle qui vivra le plus longtemps. La petite a une démarche intellectuelle très éloignée des préoccupations futiles de nos sociétés occidentales. Ce livre m'a beaucoup touchée malgré l'inconnu dans lequel on se trouve.

  • Her Royal Orangeness
    2019-06-03 16:32

    The Mistress of Silence by Belgian author Jacqueline Harpman is a sci-fi/dystopia/post-apocalypse novella about a group of women who have been imprisoned underground for many years and how they survive when they manage to escape. The premise is interesting and Harpman creates a vivid and believable scenario. The pacing is suspenseful and the characters believable (especially considering the very strange circumstances in which they find themselves). I think I missed most of the philosophical importance of this book, however, and though I'm not certain why (my fault? author's fault? cultural barrier?) I only gave the book 3.5 Stars.

  • Talya
    2019-06-13 14:33

    What does it mean to be a woman, a person, or an animal. A young woman is imprisoned with 39 other women. They are guarded by men who never talk to them or give them any idea of what is going on or why they are there. The other women have memories of their lives outside but the young woman, who doesn't have a name, doesn't remember living anywhere else. They escape after mysterious circumstances. I don't want to give anything away so I won't continue. I enjoyed the book, but found it depressing, as I usually do when I read/watch anything that is French. I now have to read some fluff so I can feel better about life. :-)