The Floating Opera Author:John Barth The morning of June 21st (or 22nd), 1937, Todd Andrews wakes with a solution. He is going to kill himself. He continues the idle routine of his day with the quiet resolve that this day will be his last. — "Todd Andrews is my name. You can spell it with one or two d's; I get letters addressed either way. I almost warned you against the single-... more »d spelling, for fear you'd say, 'Tod is German for death: perhaps the name is symbolic.' I myself use two d's, partly in order to avoid that symbolism. But you see, I ended by not warning you at all, and that's because it just occurred to me that the double-d Todd is symbolic, too, and accurately so. Tod is death, and this book hasn't much to do with death; Todd is almost Tod -- that is, almost death -- and this book, if it gets written, has very much to do with almost-death."
John Barth's The Floating Opera is a novel about 'almost-death' or more succinctly 'life'. Todd Andrews is a young solicitor who suffers a condition of the heart where every beat could be his last. He adapts various systems of living to cope with this condition. The first being life as a rake in college where 'the goal was to drink the most whisky, fornicate the most girls, get the least sleep, and make the highest grades'.
Todd Andrew's fast living soon fizzled out on a brothel floor with a swollen prostate and a broken glass bottle embedded in his leg. He countered that system of living with life as a saint. This involved sitting on window sills, sunk in shadows, speaking very little. Life as a saint succeeded for Todd Andrews until his best friend loaned him his wife after a nice day of sailing. The next system of living was life as a cynic. Cynicism survived until the morning of June 21st (or 22nd) when Todd Andrews despaired.« less