Here's another one I can't find, but somebody will probably recognize right away.

A young man has been thrown out of respectable society. To make sure he stays away from people (and they stay away from him), those who have condemned him alter his body so that he always smells bad. Of course, no one can smell underwater - and that's where he meets a girl, while they're both swimming underwater in a swimming pool.

I don't remember a lot of details about this story - but I remember the main character was not very nice - he was often mean to other people. Whether he'd always been like that, or whether his nastiness was because everyone had rejected him, I can't remember.

I would have read this story in the mid-seventies, but it was probably written earlier.

1 Answer 1


This is The Country of the Kind by Damon Knight.

The story is set in a future world in which violence and crime have been almost entirely eradicated. The main character is a man who is capable of antisocial behavior and who considers himself “the king of the world.” He is allowed to do what he wishes, take what he wants and go where he pleases without reprisal, so long as he does no violence to another human being. The “humane, permissive” society in which he lives has adopted a threefold solution for someone who is, by their standards, insane. The first is excommunication - no one is to interact with him or even acknowledge his existence, other than by the apparent worldwide directive identifying him and calling for this punishment. Secondly, he is thrown into an epileptic seizure whenever he attempts to commit violence against another human. Thirdly, his body and waste give off a highly offensive odor, undetectable by him, to identify him, warn others of his presence and drive them away.

The story ends with a desperate plea from the protagonist for someone, anyone to join him in his rebellion against what he perceives to be a wholly passive society, which has lost any spark of creativity or will to achieve greatness.

The story links violence to artistic expression. The protagonist "invents" drawing and sculpture, only later realizing, from old books, that these things had existed in the past, and notes that all great artists had lived in especially violent times.

  • 2
    Can you explain how this book matches up with the question?
    – Valorum
    Jul 30, 2020 at 23:47
  • 1
    The excerpt seems fairly good evidence to me. I checked the story and it does have the swimming pool scene, though it's a little lengthy so a supporting quote would be quite long. Good work Martin! I have read the story but had completely forgotten it. Jul 31, 2020 at 4:17
  • That's the story. Thanks Martin! Valorum has a point too - I didn't remember much about the story, and may have mischaracterized the protagonist - not really a "boy". Jul 31, 2020 at 13:11

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