Saturday, October 13, 2018

REBLOGGING: Dystopian Fiction

A Brief History of Dystopian Fiction 

For the sake of this blog, and not relying totally on memory, I have used a brief synopsis of each novel mentioned here courtesy of Wikipedia.

I haven’t read a dystopian novel in decades. Why? First, because I read enough of them; and second, because I started to see the direction in which our governments and our world were and are heading. Reality intruded upon fiction, and such novels began to depress me, even if they ended on a happy, upbeat and optimistic note. I now read for escapism, to be entertained, or educated if I’m reading history or biographies.

During the Depression of the 1930s, and even through WWII, escapist entertainment was extremely popular, especially in films, because people wanted to forget, even for a few hours, what was happening in the real world. Today, in the Information Age, we are bombarded by both real and fake news, and by the landslide of dark, world events. And yet, dystopian fiction, in both literature and the cinema, are more popular now than ever. Is this the new escapist entertainment for the 21st century? Perhaps. I don’t know what every writer and film maker had in mind, but I do know that in the past, authors always had a clear agenda: they were writing cautionary tales.

What I intend to do with the first 3 parts of this 4-part blog is to introduce readers to early and perhaps all but forgotten dystopian novels that I’ve read. These are books I think should not be forgotten, and are must-read novels. Part 4 will deal with more recent fiction, as well as an "incomplete/partial" list of films. So let’s begin, shall we?

While it's recently been said by others that William Golding's 1954 classic, Lord of the Flies is the most relevant novel of our current times, and it's a great novel, I have to say that the most famous of all dystopian novels is 1984. Published in 1949 by George Orwell, this novel has twice been made into films, to my knowledge. The novel is set in Airstrip One, formerly Great Britain, and a province of the superstate called Oceania, whose residents are victims of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. Oceania’s political ideology, euphemistically named English Socialism (shortened to “Ingsoc” in Newspeak, the language invented by the government) is enforced by the privileged, elite Inner Party. Via the “Thought Police,” the Inner Party persecutes individualism and independent thinking, which are regarded as “thoughtcrimes.”  (While Orwell’s Animal Farm is a satirical tale about Joseph Stalin and Communist Russia, it can also be considered a dystopian novel.)

Another famous dystopian novel is Brave New World, written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, and published in 1932. Set in London in the year AD 2540, the novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a profound change in society. The novel opens in the World State city of London, where citizens are engineered through artificial wombs and childhood indoctrination programs into predetermined classes (or castes) based on intelligence and labor. It has been adapted for the theater, radio and two television movies.

If you'd like to read more of my series of articles on Dystopian Fiction, I refer you Our Author Gang blogsite. Just click on each part below.





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