Transformations of Language in Modern Dystopias

Synopsis

As the 20th century has progressed, dystopian fiction has gained power as utopian fiction has become increasingly irrelevant. As an overtly didactic genre, dystopia extrapolates terrifying near-futures from disturbing current trends. In order to quickly create an atmosphere that is at once plausible and terrifying, dystopian writers almost universally turn to an idea certain to generate both fear and sympathy in the reader--the dual concept of language as the primary tool by which repressive societies stifle dissent, and simultaneously as the primary weapon used by rebels bent on understanding, resisting, and countering such oppression. This volume traces the evolution of language's centrality in 20th-century dystopias in English, including Brave New World, 1984, A Clockwork Orange, The Handmaid's Tale, Native Tongue, The Judas Rose, and Riddley Walker.