A GUIDE TO SELECTED MODERN CULTURAL CRITICISM WITH RELEVANCE TO DYSTOPIAN LITERATURE
Both dystopian literature and social criticism derive considerable energies from a general modern skepticism about the possibility of an ideal society. Moreover, modern social and cultural critics like Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Mikhail Bakhtin, Louis Althusser, and Michel Foucault quite often show concerns that are highly reminiscent of those shown by writers of dystopian literature. As a result, an awareness of the work of such critics is extremely useful for gaining an understanding of the issues at stake in modern dystopian literature. This section briefly reviews the work of some of the most important modern social and cultural theorists and critics, paying special attention to the light that can be shed on dystopian literature by the work of these theorists and critics. See my The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature for a more extensive treatment of the points of contact between dystopian literature and the social criticism of such thinkers.
Theodor Adorno, an important figure in modern neo-Marxist criticism, shares much of Marx's analysis of the dystopian aspects of bourgeois society while lacking Marx's faith in the ultimate establishment of a proletarian utopia. Indeed, Adorno's pessimism is a central example of the dark turn in much of modern social and