The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: Fiction as Social Criticism

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

should not be discarded simply because the Soviet system is no longer extant. At this writing no one can predict the future course of events in post-Soviet Russia. And if dystopian fiction tells us anything, it is that popular complacency is one of the surest roads to tyranny.


NOTES
1.
On the other hand, note Thomas W. Cooper's suggestion relative to Orwell's book as a warning of things to come that "the deepest danger is not that 1984 is coming, but rather that it has come in another guise, and we are unaware of it" (99-100, his emphasis). Kumar also suggests that many aspects of Orwell's vision are coming to be realized (345-6).
2.
See Kumar for a discussion of Orwell's belief, solidified by the 1939 Soviet-German pact, that "nazism and communism were no more than variants of a single type" (305).
3.
See Steinhoff ( George Orwell) for an extended study of Orwell's relationship to other writers of utopian/dystopian fiction.
4.
One of the most striking visual depictions of the backwardness of technology under dystopian conditions occurs in Terry Gilliam's film Brazil, which is at least partially a parody of 1984. Gilliam's dystopian London is highly technological, but its technology is typically clumsy, backward, and antiquated.
5.
On the Catholic resonances of the regime in Oceania, see Steinhoff ( George Orwell184).
6.
For a detailed treatment of one such case and a summary of several others, see Juraga and Booker.
7.
Orwell's Party does maintain some medieval punishment practices, as in the public hanging of war prisoners. But such public punishments are strictly reserved for the Other, to provide a spectacle for the focusing of hatred.
8.
The "secret" book of Goldstein explains that, because of the efficiency of this surveillance, the Party is able to demand far stricter adherence to its doctrine than could the medieval Church (169).
9.
For a somewhat similar argument, see Philmus, who suggests that utopian societies become restrictive and authoritarian to the extent that they seek to impose unanimity by limiting access to outside influences and in particular to any language other than "a language of assent" (64).

-89-

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The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: Fiction as Social Criticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction: Utopia, Dystopia, and Social Critique 1
  • Notes 22
  • 1 - Zamyatin's We: Anticipating Stalin 25
  • Notes 44
  • 2 - Huxley's Brave New World: The Early Bourgeois Dystopia 47
  • Notes 66
  • 3 - Orwell's 1984: The Totalitarian Dystopia after Stalin 69
  • Notes 89
  • 4 - The Bourgeois Dystopia After World War II 91
  • Notes 112
  • 5 - Postmodernism with a Russian Accent: The Contemporary Communist Dystopia 115
  • Notes 138
  • 6 - Skepticism Squared: Western Postmodernist Dystopias 141
  • Notes 170
  • Postscript: Literature and Dystopia 173
  • Works Cited 179
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 199
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