The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: Fiction as Social Criticism

By M. Keith Booker | Go to book overview

NOTES
1.
I discuss this issue at more length in Techniques of Subversion.
2.
Terry Eagleton is only one of many who have pointed out this fact: "Carnival, after all, is a licensed affair in every sense, a permissible rupture of hegemony, a contained popular blow-off as disturbing and relatively ineffectual as a revolutionary work of art" ( Benjamin148, Eagleton's emphasis).
3.
Gibson here alludes to the opening sentence of Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, which begins as a German V-2 rocket lands on London in World War II, after which (because the rockets traveled faster than sound) "a screaming comes across the sky" (3).
4.
On Vineland's suggestion of the lack of theoretical and political sophistication of the oppositional movements of the 1960s, see my article "America and Its Discontents."
5.
This episode bears several striking similarities to Aksyonov's depiction in The Burn of a student rebellion at the University of Sussex in England, where the students seem more interested in partying and media coverage than in politics. They thus spend their time "lighting campfires, dancing the hula, playing cards, smoking grass, working themselves up, discussing the problem of union with the working class-which for some reason seemed very undesirous of such a union-and, of course, fucking one another on all the steps of the vice-chancellor's staircase. They were waiting for the arrival of the mass media, for who makes a revolution nowadays without the television cameras?" (252).
6.
One could read Pynchon's math professor Atman as a reinseription of Zamyatin's mathematician D-503. For example, it may or may not be coincidence that Frenesi's compatriots in the 24fps film collective, observing her sexual attraction to Atman, "thought she was into 'a number,' as they called it back then, with Weed Atman" (209). But Atman may have other referents as well. Slade, for example, identifies Atman with French revolutionary figure and mathematician Evariste Galois (138-40). It is, of course, conceivable that Galois was a model for D-503 as well.
7.
Sadomasochism often appears in Pynchon's work as a demonstration of power, as in the sadistic treatment of African natives by European colonizers in V. or in the "Domina Nocturna" episode of Gravity's Rainbow.
8.
See Hayles for a discussion of possible positive intonations in Pynchon's treatment of family in Vineland.

-170-

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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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