History of the dystopian genre in literature
Recently, such works as” the Hunger games ” have created a huge furor in society, especially among those members who are interested in dystopian books. But we have read dystopias quite often before, and not all of them were characterized by such a high level of technological innovation, as in the above-mentioned book. Most often they are about enslaved societies, socially oppressed circles of people. One of the most famous examples of such a dystopian novel is considered to be George Orwell’s “1984”, which gave life to the catch phrase” Big Brother is watching you”, thereby embodying life under the microscope. A similar story load can be found in the “Hunger games”, which broadcast to the General public the attempts of some people to kill others. However, dystopian literature has not always sought such modernization: television and computers are just the latest additions to the genre. In fact, the roots of this trend go back to the beginning of the 16th century, when Thomas More wrote a book called “Utopia”, which, paradoxically, described a society in its structure very far from its name. In General, writers who create in this genre, in the concept of dystopia, first of all, put the meaning of a certain society, split and destroyed by social norms and attitudes.
Dystopia is a kind of society with perfect ideals in the idea, but fallen and destroyed in fact. Dystopia shows a nightmarish picture of the near future. Typical dystopian themes usually concern uprisings, social pressures, revolutions, wars, overpopulation, and catastrophes. Many consider this genre relatively new in literature, but the reality shows that it has a very long and exciting history. You will find confirmation of this in this brief excursion into the history of the dystopian genre.
Functions of dystopia
Through the novel of dystopia, the author demonstrates his own belief about the problems of humanity and society, as well as warns people about their weakness. Writers usually resort to the dystopian genre to discuss reality and display problems that are very likely in the future. Despite the fact that the role of dystopia in literature is to educate and warn the audience, do not underestimate its impact on the coverage of pressing problems in the social, political, and governmental spheres.
The structure of the dystopia
Background: Dystopia is usually part of a fictional universe that tells the story of how this world was formed or how it evolved (or degraded) in relation to our society. Prehistory clearly demonstrates the process of changing the levers of control over society, changing social norms, or the establishment of the power of a government controlled by individual corporations, totalitarian dictators or bureaucrats.
Main character: there are several types of protagonist that may appear in the book of dystopia. One of these is a character who intuitively feels the problems of society and tries to fix them, frankly believing that it is really possible to throw the dictator from the Olympus of power. Often, the worldview of such a character is formed under the influence of the surrounding environment, which is also not indifferent to the confrontation with the holder of power.
Another type of protagonist is an integral part of a society that sees itself as nothing but utopian, but at a certain point he realizes how wrong this very society is, and attempts to modify or destroy it.
Tie: often the main character meets a character endowed with dystopian traits, perhaps the leader of the entire society. There is a conflict in which the protagonist also meets or is supported by a group of people who are driven by the idea of destroying the dystopia. Sometimes these people were previously part of this dystopia, but they managed to come to their senses and throw off this burden.
Climax: in a dystopian novel, the problem often remains unresolved, and in most cases attempts to destroy the dystopia are futile. Sometimes the hero manages to break the vicious circle and break free, but in the vast majority of cases, the main character (or the group of people we discussed above) is defeated and the dystopia continues.
Examples of dystopias
Texts of revolutionary significance
Probably, in our days, the development of the dystopian genre in art has received a second wind, but its activity can be traced back to the times of the 18th century. Perhaps, at that time, such creativity was not a reflection of such fantastic utopian beliefs, but rather a response to threatening ideals and political views. Thus, the novel dystopia uses its accusatory form of imposing a worldview as a way to criticize the ideology in the depths of which these really bold texts were created.
However, distasteful views of totalitarian regimes and scenarios of post-apocalyptic destruction are closely intertwined within the voiced genre, and in addition they have strong links with other literary trends, such as travel novels, satire and science fiction. Therefore, it would be wrong to completely identify all these directions.
The primary impulse in the movement of dystopias belongs to the pen of Jonathan swift, who in 1726 published the work “Gulliver’s Travels”. Many people may associate his story about Midgets with nothing more than a good old “disney” fairy tale, but Gulliver’s story is much darker than you might think. The writer publishes a sharp critique of contemporary society, enveloping his ideas in thick layers of metaphors. For example, in one of the lands Gulliver meets a nation for which science and rationalism are above all, their senseless experiments Deplete natural and human resources. In contrast to them, the author presents other settlements, bloodthirsty and wild in nature, which can not fail to impress the traveler.
On his return to London, Gulliver comes to the stunning conclusion that, being able to compare polar ideologies, he realizes that he is no different from the peoples he visited, and even more, his entire society is saturated with sinfulness.
Dawn of thinking machines
A little later, the no less iconic novel dystopia by Samuel Butler was published under the name “edgin” (the title is hidden nothing more than an anagram of the word nowhere, which already clearly hints at the plot message of the work), published in 1872 for the first time on behalf of an unknown author. In his novel, Butler plays all sorts of satirical tricks in relation to Victorian society. His book “edgin” can rather be attributed to the category of utopian literature, although the General features of dystopia are also present in it.
At the time of the writer’s life, technological progress was not yet as widespread as in the 20th century, but his reasoning about how a mechanized mechanism can penetrate the mind is really fascinating. Since then, the idea of the unquestioning danger that technological development brings with it has become an integral part of dystopian literature.
The origins of doublethink
Already in the first half of the 20th century, two fundamental texts for dystopian literature were published. It is about the book “brave new world” by Aldous Huxley (1932) and the novel “1984” by George Orwell (written in 1949). Thought police, Big Brother, doublethink, and Newspeak: all these concepts are firmly ingrained in our minds, but the ways they flow have been somewhat forgotten.
In Huxley’s work, the reader is immersed in a perfectly formed world from an engineering point of view, in which a person is artificially grown like a vegetable, and then seated at a pre-assigned place in the structure of society, while no one shows dissatisfaction with their position until the well-established system fails. In Orwell’s novel, there is a character named Winston who, under the pressure of propaganda ideas, begins to ask inappropriate questions, but the social machine leaves him no chance of self-will. More information about the book can be found here.
Paradoxically, both books are not devoid of quite ordinary and familiar in our life details that everyone has heard or seen: technology, television, drugs, etc.; all this together has the deafening effect of bringing us closer to the real world and detailing the danger that in theory we can all expect.
In fact, the list of books of dystopias can be supplemented for a very long time, and in each individual work you can easily find notes of dystopia, which is why all literature is intertextual, each new genre is inextricably linked to another.