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New York: Criterion. Prescott, Frederick C. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. London: Routledge; New York: Harcourt. Spurgeon, Caroline F. Cambridge Univ. Politics has to do with the public exercise of power; political fiction, with the understanding and appraisal of those who are the subjects or objects of this exercise of power. Some writers of political fiction emphasize understanding, others appraisal.

In the first case their work, if successful, approaches scientific theory in its insightful understanding of the dynamics of political power. In the second, mere appraisal without systematic understanding produces polemic or diatribe, which may nevertheless contribute expressively to understanding problems of power. As the line between understanding and judging is often indistinct, so also is the line between fiction that is political and fiction that is not.

Ever since political leaders first exercised power over the rest of society, writers have had the elite as subject matter—as Sophocles had in Antigone. Ever since ordinary citizens began to exercise overt power, notably during and after the Protestant Reformation and later the industrial revolution, writers have had the additional task of understanding and judging the public exercise of power by both elite and nonelite. This inherent, reciprocal, ancient relationship between the leader and the led, each as the subject and object of power, had not been clearly stated, let alone understood, before the modern activation of ordinary citizens.

The infusion of psychological knowledge into culture, notably starting in the twentieth century with Freud, has made it possible to understand and judge political power with a penetration previously rare. Several bold, and a few successful, fictional efforts have been made in this direction. Some of the bolder and more successful ones are discussed below.

Even fiction that is political only by the vaguest of connections, allegorical or otherwise, has had enormous political impact. A very long and rambling Chinese novel, dating from the fifteenth century or before, Shut hu chuan translated in by Pearl S. Buck under the title All Men Are Brothers , has among its themes brigandage, corruption of kings and princes, and the unending effort of valiant, lawless men to destroy the rich and powerful so that the poor and impotent might live in decency and justice. Even before the revolution a leading Chinese communist called this medieval novel the first communist writing, and it became a kind of guiding light for the revolutionary leaders during the decades before they got full power.

Comparable in their influence have been the eighteenth-century satires of Jonathan Swift the most savage, perhaps, being his Modest Proposal for solving the population problem in Ireland by selling yearling Irish children to be served as a delicacy on the tables of English gentlemen and the portrayals of social stench by Charles Dickens in his novels of poverty in Victorian England and by Victor Hugo in France. Such polemical social fiction, however strong its influence on the climate of political opinion among elite and nonelite, does not, except by portraying the social context, contribute much to understanding or judging political power.

Such fiction indeed involves political issues like corruption, personal integrity, and courage. But it relates these only peripherally to more central issues involved in the exercise of power. Or it only scratches the surface in areas where Dostoevski, Koestler, Orwell, and Mann have excavated deeply.

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There are books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and politics in everything, but there is also a continuous running babble of political fiction that signifies next to nothing. These relations always include contact between individuals. The contact between one individual and another involves not only appraisal and understanding of the other individual but also appraisal and understanding of oneself. The age-old questions of right and wrong, justice, and choice still endure.

In recent decades they have been raised anew, in searching analyses of the individual himself, as the agent who chooses between right and wrong, just and unjust. The age-old rote exhortation to exercise power virtuously has in twentieth-century fiction been succeeded by a maturing comprehension of the intimate relations of one individual with others and with himself. Modern writers have boldly explored paths opened by psychologists of both intuitive and empirical orientation and with such modern knowledge have in effect analyzed ancient Greek and Judaic statements of the problem of political power.

In the groping exploration of the nineteenth century the Russian Dostoevski had the Grand Inquisitor say in Spanish Seville that mankind wanted bread rather than liberty—wanted to survive but cared not for freedom. In the mid-twentieth century has come the rather antithetical observation that man and society can be enslaved and destroyed only as Orwell seems to have said if man, the social animal, is reduced to the point where his survival depends on the grace of an omnipotent Big Brother.

As will be discussed, this thesis raises questions about the nature of man himelf. Political fiction typically has been written in protest. The protest, more often than not, has been against the social and political status quo and has favored some kind of Utopia where the contemporary real and evil society and polity are replaced by the good. But with increasing frequency in the mid-twentieth century, the protest has radically criticized the good society envisioned by Utopians. It has extrapolated from current developments to their logical conclusion in the polity that ends politics, when the exercise of power is unlimited and controls every human act.

Orwell in finds the origin of this trend in the development of techniques of power by corrupt civilization. With a far more devastating analysis which he seems to have abandoned in later writing , William Golding in Lord of the Flies finds it in the human soul, released from the restraints of civilization.

Orwell says man is socially corrupted; Golding, in this novel, proclaims that man is innately corrupt. Each book is logical; each is equally incredible in its holistic analysis of political action as the product exclusively of either the environment or the organism. Both and Lord of the Flies have, however, set the focus of attention on the human psyche, the point where determining forces, external and internal, do their work and where choice—if the forces are not altogether determining—is made.

And, as will appear later, Golding and others have proffered an explanation that is neither strictly environmental nor strictly organic but both. Most political fiction involves status distinctions between people—differences of superiority and inferiority. In one major tributary of writing the status relation arising from economic inequality dominates the appraisal of political power. In Utopia the status distinctions of an England in transition from feudalism to an open society are eliminated in a classless egalitarianism where virtually everyone enjoys the simplest provision of goods.

The few who enjoy a little more do so only in consequence of their feudal but acknowledged exercise of political power, which includes authority not only to maintain order and national defense but also to allocate work. To keep the citizens from becoming accustomed to killing, the slaughter of livestock is done by slaves. People are punished as readily for the intent to commit a crime as for its commission. There are few laws and treaties, men being bound together by love, not words. Deeply troubled as More was by the misery produced when feudally common pasture lands were enclosed and anti-Catholicism was rampant, his future good society looks like a serene early Christian communism.

And it employs supposedly popular coercive measures having the gray-brown drabness and uniformity of the totalitarian slave-labor camps that actually came into being in the twentieth century. The election of top princes by high officials, of high officials by lesser ones, and of lower officials by citizens voting in family units seems more like feudalism stood on its head than like representative democracy. Reacting against the atavism of his time a breakdown of community and law that seems to occur in all societies in transition , More could propose only a reversion to humanized, equalized, coerced feudalism.

The exploiters are not landowners enclosing once-common lands, thereby causing sheep to devour men as More put it , but mine operators who work their miners to death. One part of the problem is the class system. The other part is the selfishness of man, whether bourgeois or proletarian. Zola abhorred the state of affairs in which the strong devour the weak, in which the lawless aim of each is to acquire power for himself, and in which the ability to love, sexually or otherwise, becomes a means of exploitation. Without resolving the issues of egoism, power, and love, Zola, in Marxist fashion, trusted the power of the proletariat to lay the basis for Utopia in the next century by an avenging destruction of the bourgeoisie.

Later novelists have likewise reacted to the class crisis after industrialization, and they have similarly described despair and longed for Utopia. In The Iron Heel , Jack London began the reign of plutocrats soon after the last free election, in , and continued it for three centuries.

But London precociously presented a dilemma that has persisted: the relation between unsophisticated, ordinary man and the cosmic superman whom he sees as necessary to salvation from political repression. London clarified the problem of power with a pre-science that portended Orwell. Perhaps there was no truth in anything, no truth in truth—no such thing as truth. It is my soul, my brain.

I seem to have lost all values. I care for nothing. It is too late now. By comparison with his contemporaries London, however lost he was, was not lost in a fog. In The Octopus , by Frank Norris , the destructive aspects of capitalism come into false focus.


It is all a battle of the interests against the decent, hard-working, bravely risk-taking farmers. London was caught between Scylla and Charybdis and knew it. For his contemporaries, like Norris and Donnelly, power remained a murky mystery, and they wallowed in it exquisitely. For Paul Leicester Ford , power was neither a murky sea nor a rocky shore. It was something that one simply seized and used—like an adolescent grasping a gyrocompass but not trigonometry.

The hero of his Honorable Peter Stirling wins both the governorship and a fair young lady, almost simultaneously. Stirling, in his long, stolid, and solid evolution from a boor to the beloved and just champion of the poor, shuns demagogy and observes neither more nor less than a firm respect for the just interests of the rich. Writing in a fictional milieu that took class conflict as a given, Ford and Norris and Anthony Trollope in Phineas Finn remained not seriously dismayed by the problem of power.

Like a mad mariner, London pointed in anguish toward the twentieth century, which people had entered but were not yet in, and foresaw the techniques and consequences of complete social control. Another major tributary of political fiction deals with the kind of status that is not a consequence of property differences but of race. Writers have appraised this political problem in both the colonial and the intranational context. The issue is indeed raised by Shakespeare in Othello c.

But it was not until the twentieth century, when E. Forster wrote his Passage to India , that a broad and deep statement was made of the consequences of the conjunction of one race that calls itself master and another that acknowledges and protests its own subordination.

Forster analyzed hierarchy by observing the effects of racial status as it was superimposed by conquest on a culture where status was already indigenously and meticulously imposed by caste and religion. He probed intimately into the relations between individuals who try to see others and themselves as individuals but who cannot escape the differences of status and are not much helped by the abstract egalitarianism of Christianity and Islam.

The basic conflict is not oversimplified but is reduced by Forster to that of loyalty and affection between individuals as they are inhibited and restricted by the bonds of religious, social, and national status. In the novel, Forster implicitly argues for the greater value of individual ties of affection, basing this on his supreme valuation of individuality as more important than religion, caste, and nation. In both, individuals try to reach each other across the chasm of racial distinction.

In the second, the sexual aspect, clearly present but not dominant in A Passage to India, becomes a central theme—the fascination of forbidden fruit and the spontaneity of physical interpersonal love, which closes its eyes to skin color. The etiology of the endemic disease of racial tension, as it affects both individuals and politics, is classically stated and explored in these three novels.

The dynamics as they operate within a nation have been inevitably stated in America, with its centuries-old dilemma of relations between whites and Negroes. The more recent work of Negro authors, written with an intensity that cannot ever be attained by white writers, has also been largely apolitical.

What is remarkable is the enormous political influence such fiction has had. It is not true that any one book or any other force has by itself impelled a social or political movement, but these writings have at times helped raise the strong winds of opinion to hurricane force. Literary discussion from the s to the s of race relations, in intranational, colonial, and latterly in foreign-aid contexts—e. A common theme of social novels with status preoccupation—whether it be economic or racial in origin—is the equality and dignity of the individual human being. The criticism of discrimination on the basis of class or race rests implicitly or explicitly on the belief in equal dignity or equal worth, regardless of bodily or economic circumstances over which the individual has no control.

Another category of writings reverses this theme and looks at what can happen when the principle of equality as the only end is assumed and any means appropriate to its achievement is morally justified. From Dostoevski in The Possessed to Henry James in The Princess Casamassima and Joseph Conrad in The Secret Agent the antianarchic critique of amoral equality has stressed the need for decency, honor, and integrity on the grounds that monistic egalitarianism produces only the destruction of orderly society and ultimately the nihilistic negation of the individual himself.

The egalitarian context in which these three novels were written is socioeconomic. They say in effect: What you people like More, Trollope, Chekhov, Hugo, and Dickens are talking about is all very well, but if you altogether succeed, what then? Are you quite sure your poor, sat-upon, proletarian egg will not be hatched a hawk? With a querulous, lascivious dwelling on the terrors of extreme brutality, these novels present at most, and only by implication, a ritualistic solution to the dilemma of inequality return to the decent, humane virtues of the aristocratic race , but they do succeed in presenting the problem in a crude fashion.

The recoil by such as Dostoievski, Conrad, and Ruark at some of the consequences of equality poses the question of the exercise of power without stint in a society dedicated solely to the proposition that all men are created equal. These writings are reactionary without being atavistic: indeed they radically criticize the atavism resulting from unconstrained equality.

The dialogue between the proponents and opponents of socioeconomic and racial equality skirts but never directly enters the area of political power exercised for its own sake. It deals with the adjective rather than the noun, with wealthy or racist power in politics rather than power itself. The moral problem of political power itself was posed as early as the fifth century B. These direct statements of the power problem do not, however, bore into its origins and its portents. The proliferation of these remarkable works and their failure to fit into a chronological development makes it necessary to consider them by type rather than time.

Only in a genetic sport, a man who developed in a neglected portion of the earth to which conditioning has not yet made its way, is the serene pattern disturbed. Both frightening and at times hilarious, the novel lacks the somber quality of later penetration into individual and social psychology. In Mans Hope he continued the argument, now set in the Spanish Civil War — which he again saw firsthand. Building at least systematically, if not actually, on the somewhat impersonal social accounts just discussed, the Italian writer Ignazio Silone increasingly personalized the power problem.

And a new feature—the top political leader, the chief of state—emerges somewhat dimly in the background. This character is absent or distant in the work of Huxley, Capek, and Malraux. The dilemmas of ideology, Utopia, simple affection among human beings and its savage antithesis: sexual rape are conjoined with a simple superstition among the peasantry that takes the form of fear of the leader combined with a feeling of his inevitability, his power, and his grace.

Both the peasantry and the politically declassed members of the ruling elite are juxtaposed to the leader in passionate ambivalence. Three later novels move the ruling class farther into the foreground and the ordinary citizenry into the background. Two of these are psychologically distinguished and logically brilliant; the other, with one or two exceptions, is unsurpassed in its psychological penetration.

In Animal Farm and , George Orwell carries to their logical conclusions certain tendencies already well developed in modern industrial society. Animal Farm, the allegorical polity in which all animals are equal but the ruling elite of pigs is more equal than the other creatures, argues that ideology and social justice are trivial matters when they confront the lust for power. In simple, spontaneous, uncontrived, uninduced love, of course, loses the battle, and Winston Smith, mentally in extremis, betrays his beloved Julia and comes to love Big Brother himself.

The protagonist of the novel, Rubashov, is a composite of several Soviet leaders who were tried and executed during the Soviet purge trials of the late s. He is a composite of ideologism, courage, intellectuality, opportunism, and atrophied compassion. His life deftly poses several fundamental questions of political power: What means justify what ends? What is truth? When may proximate falsehood be used in the interests of ultimate truth?

These tragedies are conjoined with two politically deeper ones: the growing compassion shown Rubashov by a never-seen fellow prisoner, an adherent of the old regime with whom he has nothing in common save uncultured humanity, and the inability of Rubashov to live outside the quite corrupt church of the Communist party, in which he has spent his life and the only thing to which he is dedicated aside from self.

Neither the compassion of others nor fidelity to party saves him from destruction. In the end Rubashov can choose neither to stand with his fellow men nor to stand alone. The early antiutopias of the s and s were relatively impersonal and dealt mainly with ordinary citizens. The more personal, and more real, accounts of Silone, Malraux, and Koestler move partially or completely from treatment of the ordinary to the extraordinary citizen, to the declassed member of the ruling elite. Two additional novels dealing with the same problems of unconstrained political power are fictionalized biographies of actual chiefs of state.

There is the use and betrayal of people, the abuse of truth and the use of falsehood, the passionate sense of abstract justice combined with the enthusiasm for inducing a lawless personal dependency—revenge and grace without justice. The tragedy lies in the inability of the leader, Willie Stark, to extricate himself from the personal nest he has woven for himself and then befouled. A Wreath for Udomo similarly conjoins the personal and the political.

Udomo is beloved by and loves a mature Englishwoman he meets in London. He betrays her by having an affair with a mutual friend. When he later gets established as leader of his newly liberated African nation, he sacrifices the life of an old friend and devoted follower, as the price for getting technical aid from the hated, white-ruled nation of South Africa.

He is at last killed by tribal atavism, the fear-driven reaction to the modern ways Udomo is introducing. Most of these antianarchie novels from Dostoevski to Conrad and antityrannic novels, often mislabeled antiutopias from Huxley to Abrahams , were written in western Europe. Out of eastern Europe, in the post-Stalin era, has come a series of novels that offer the promise, and no more as yet, of the re-emergence of intensely political writing in the land that produced Dostoevski and Gogol. The new books remain timid, uncrafted products, still too close to tyranny itself to be able to appraise it freely.

It nevertheless is a milestone in the public recognition it has accorded the author in the Soviet Union, where he was nominated in for the Lenin Prize. There remains still another category of political novels, incongruous among those that oppose either anarchy or tyranny. These are the writings that implicitly or explicitly espouse and justify—or reject and condemn—a Nietzschean, individualist anarchism divorced from any social or socialist commitment. In a sense, these are antipolitical works. He pushes into boudoirs and the bureaus of business and government with a purity of heart that beguiles.

At the end he faces trial with a moral courage and a refusal to compromise his principle that makes it easy to overlook the principle to which he was dedicated. If the pure in heart ever are to see their God, Julien saw his in himself and was by himself blest. The Red and the Black is indeed a pure novel, unbesmirched by the dilemma between individual distinction and social service. If the solution for Martin Eden was the escape of private suicide, Julien went to his public execution with the courage of Socrates and Christ, the sole difference being in the diverse principles for which Julien and Socrates and Christ died.

Two more-recent novels echo the Red and Black theme, in one case with several inklings of awareness of the dilemma and in the other with no more than an inkling. For a while, nevertheless, he enjoys warming and being warmed by others. Not so Dr. He does it all with a remarkable sense of high purpose, blaming only the chaos and the Soviet system for his faults, that is, his inability to succeed altogether in his self-service. The critical enthusiasm with which the ook was received after its official Soviet condemnation and the awarding of the Nobel Prize to its author reflected a pharisaical condemnation of Soviet communism and no understanding of the refusal of Pasternak to face the dilemma confronted by London, Koestler, and Orwell.

In Dr. Zhivago, Nietzsche is not problematical but axiomatic. Both emphasize individual values and candidly make their protagonists into heroes. Both clearly indicate a commitment of these heroes to their communities. Obviously nonpolitical, this pungent play deeply influenced Gamal Abdel Nasser, who viewed the same prurient egoism on the other side of the Mediterranean as a prime cause of Egyptian political impotence before and after the revolution. The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre in The Age of Reason has his characters search for private freedom, after liberty has been publicly betrayed in the Spanish Civil War.

They seek it in the paradox of uncommitted love that exploits others for their companionship and passion but ends in solitude. To personal egoism is conjoined national egoism: man cares neither for man nor woman nor Vaterland nor patrie —and vice versa. All one can do, Sartre seems to say, is endure, clutching the thin coin of existentialism whose other side is nihilism.

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The cry of Albert Camus is even more piercing. In an allegory of France during the Nazi occupation, he finds individual men who dedicate themselves warmly to a solidary, compassionate succoring of the plague-stricken community. Society must endure, and with individual compassion for individuals it can endure. But in The Fall , Camus appears to have surrendered to despair. There can be no conjunction of freedom and society. Solitude is unbearable, and man cannot bear freedom, a court sentence imposed on oneself by oneself.

Man must be a slave, in a society where all are slaves to their own inescapable egoism. Lacking love, men are dragged through life by their almost impotent hypersexuality. Their common guilt can hold them together, but it only delays the solitude of death. In Wild Strawberries , a distinguished septuagenarian scientist, about to be honored for his dedicated pursuit of reality, in his dreams sees himself as indifferent, unloving and unloved, living in deadly solitude. But, Bergman insists, men are capable of compassion. Political fiction, like political science , has always been a product of the developing stage of culture in which it was written.

Both fiction and science have drawn from the same intellectual sources and appraised the dilemmas of the time. When the very idea of limited government was taking shape, Sophocles in Antigone raised the radical issue of civil disobedience. In the twentieth century, when tyranny underwent another revival—perhaps unequaled since the savage sixteenth century of the Reformation and Counter Reformation —the theme of tyranny again became central. But political fiction now reflects the infusion of new knowledge, notably from psychology and physiology.

It has consequently produced an inquiry into the causes and consequences of tyranny that is remarkable in depth and suggestiveness. In so doing, political fiction has articulated analyses of problems that in contemporary writing in political science have had largely disjointed treatment: the relationship between the individual, his fellow men, his fellow citizens, and government; the concept of justice in which government is more than an arbiter between citizens; the problem of moral choice and free choice; and above all, the criteria for choice. Indeed, to a great extent the new political theory of the twentieth century has been written in fictional form.

Some writings already discussed and some not yet discussed show this sharply. In Orwell develops his story and his theory by employing an almost classic Freudian thesis. Government, to control individual political loyalty, must sever ties of loyalty between individuals. The basic tie, says Orwell, following Freud, is the erotic one—physical love with its attendant personal affection. To break this tie, government must destroy physical desire.

To do this, government must, in turn, reactivate the primordial individual desire for sheer survival and replace love between real people with the childish dependent love for the never-seen omnipotence that graciously or tyrannically permits survival and provides the means for survival. Heterosexual love is replaced with asexual, childish, dependent love, and political autonomy is replaced with political infancy. Koestler in Darkness at Noon offers a more complicated set of hypotheses. Love and loyalty between individuals are indeed deadened by tyranny. Justice now relates to means and ends.

As object and subject the individual is considered by Koestler to be a commodity to be valued quite apart from his usefulness to the polity. But can man choose? With a vague, attenuated humanitarianism that becomes entangled with the justification of any efficient means to humane ends, Rubashov chooses only to condemn himself.

A socialized, collectivized Nietzschean, he can exercise his will only by conforming to the will of the political party , which has become identical with the will of the leader. Koestler seems to say that men can be aware but not choose. With or without the benefit of psychoanalytic theory, Conrad poignantly refines the problem. He indicates that the consequence of choice, when it destroys other people, is to destroy the chooser. The criteria for choice are considered in two of the first works which deeply explore political behavior.

In the theoretical dialogue between sexual and nonsexual love eros and agape , both these novels employ depth psychology and argue against a simplistic Freudian erotism. Franz Kafka in The Castle has his protagonist, K.


The wretch K. He now argues that man cannot live alone, that he must live with and for other individuals, and that the dilemma of living for oneself and for others will persist and is the basis for guilt, which also will persist. Man is not altogether formed by either his genes or his environs: he can choose, with inevitable guilt, but without guilt he could never make choices that are right —that is, moral. He can never help establish a free society or free himself without considering the consequences of his choices both for himself and for others.

In so stating the criteria for choice, Golding avoids the surrender to divine will implicit in the Biblical Job and the modern Castle, to the will of the party and leader explicit in Darkness at Noon and , and to individually uncontrollable forces as in Martin Eden. Free Fall thus implies there is choice, that forces within and without the individual are not altogether uncontrollable, and that anxiety and guilt will inevitably accompany the exercise of choice.

To this extent Golding indicates a way out of the dilemma so poignantly posed by London. All these factors have been integrated in unequaled, necessarily epigrammatic form in a political novella of classic proportions, Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann. In Mario are fully presented the leader, the citizenry that is led, and the citizen who kills the tyrant. And using the need for people to huddle together, the leader isolates potential dissenters.

In a brilliantly contrived denouement, Mann has the leader exploit and pervert sexual love and be undone by a young man whose revulsion at the leader seems to stem from the depths of the untutored, natural man. Mann in this rather short story does not explicate other political fiction; he epitomizes it. If the themes of private and public egoism, tyranny, and free choice had not recurred in Russian, English, Italian, French, German, and Swedish writing, in contexts scattered over centuries and over the globe, one might argue that the condition was not universal but parochial.

Man need not just exist and then cease: he can elicit his own compassion and can redeem himself and his fellow men. Deepened psychological understanding need not just witness or contribute to the destruction of men and society; it can help build both. Man is helpless neither against the tyranny of his own egoism nor against the tyranny of egoism in the general public and its leaders. One conclusion from a look at political fiction is that the lines between fiction, theory, and fact are very indistinct.

In a sense fiction here was a decade ahead of published fact and two decades ahead of systematic theory and observation. Koestler in turn was building on fact. In raising basic issues of power in its political manifestations and of the ability and responsibility to make choices, political fiction has been working in the same garden as have political theory and political research. The far from accidental consequence is that political fiction has posed problems and stated solutions that are rarely behind, and often ahead of, the statement and resolution of these problems by more prosaic investigators.

There is a tie between Freudian theory, Marxian socioeconomic theory, and the writings of Koestler, Golding, and Bergman. Each supports and facilitates the understanding of the other. One very notable distinction is that the fiction writer puts the reader on guard, since the reader of fiction realizes that what is being written is not necessarily ultimate truth or exact fact. The nonfiction theorist or researcher in politics seldom so protects the reader. In this sense writers of political fiction are exercising a responsible moral choice as to the canons of scientific method that is too infrequently faced by writers of political science.

Beck, F. Blotner, Joseph, L. In fact, Wells, like Orwell and Atwood, would gleefully highlight the points of the satires when asked. Many would argue that Nineteen Eighty-Four is the most influential of the Dystopia texts. Orwell fought on their side and the chaotic feuding between different communist and socialist factions, which inhibited the building of any utopia even before the fascists crushed them, is documented in Homage to Catalonia This great novel was conceived in the s and written in late and early , but not published until for fear of upsetting our wartime ally Stalin.

The Soviets returned the favour by banning the novel and its successor, Nineteen Eighty-Four : possession or reading of the books carried a heavy penalty in the USSR, and neither is a best seller in present day North Korea. Animal Farm is an allegory about a totalitarian society and Orwell recycled many of its tropes and themes in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell insisted that the novel was a warning, not a prophecy.

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He arrived at the title by reversing the last two digits of the year in which the bulk of it was written: It is perhaps a good thing that he did not write most of it in This point escaped many readers, including the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who, commenting on the novel in the year of , said that Orwell was quite wrong and that Britain in had never been happier or more prosperous.

The year spawned another filmed version of the novel starring John Hurt, the third time that the novel had been adapted for the screen. When Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and widely misinterpreted as a prophecy and an attack on Soviet totalitarianism. The reading public did not listen and the novel became wildly popular in the United States: here, and in Europe, the political right ironically hi-jacked a novel of the left to support their anti-communist world view.

Another feature of Dystopia which emerges from Orwell, and Huxley before him, is the tendency for dystopian novels to have tragic endings: John the Savage commits suicide in Brave New World ; Winston loves Big Brother and looks forward to his own execution in Nineteen Eighty-Four. In this sense, dystopian novels share the pessimism of the genre of Tragedy in their endings. Some later dystopian works would buck the leftist and tragic tendency of Orwell and Huxley.

The director of the American movie of Nineteen Eighty-Four gave the text a happy ending in which Ingsoc and Big Brother were defeated. The director explained that he believed in the positive possibilities of human nature.

Sonia replied acidly, you may believe in human nature but you've missed the point. Later popular fiction drew on the idea of the dystopian society but introduced a happy ending into the Dystopia novel. The struggles of the blind population to survive — they don't — and the reluctance of the sighted population to help them, are the stuff of dystopian fiction.

A 21st Century Literary Canon?

Ten years after the Second World War, some writers appeared to be becoming more optimistic about our chances of survival. It is a novel which further bucks the trend of many of the dystopian narratives considered so far. In the first instance, Phyllis James is one of only three women authors listed in this topic area. This might be partly explained by the observation that Dystopia and science fiction have often been seen as genres for men or boys.

James writes under her initials, rather than as Phyllis, not least because she recognised that a gender-neutral name would help her sell more copies in the s, when her first novel was published. She was a highly successful and excellent writer of literary detective novels, many featuring the detective-poet Adam Dalgleish, but was determined to pursue her other interests with her two novels The Children of Men and Death Comes to Pemberley , the latter combining her love of Jane Austen with the detective genre. Children of Men is unusual as a departure for a writer of detective fiction and as a dystopian novel.

Far from being of the left, James was a member of the Conservative Party who took her seat in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer. Her great friend Ruth Rendell, also a detective novelist, sat as a Labour peer in the House of Lords, and both scandalised their Lordships when, during a vote, they kissed each other in the division lobby. Another aberration in The Children of Men from other dystopian literature is its Christian theme. The Children of Men tells the story of a world in which human beings have lost the ability to breed: the Omegas, the last generation of children, are venerated; democracy has been suspended and England is run like an agreeable Oxford college or public school.

There is no Big Brother here: the leader is The Warden of England, Xan Lyppiatt James perhaps thought that a novel set in the future should contain a major character with a suitably science fiction name beginning with X. In the best traditions of literary science fiction — and again emphasising the hybrid genre of Dystopia — James extrapolates imaginatively from the premise of universal human infertility.

If such a thing were to happen, what would follow? There are nightmarish and pathetic scenes of women inviting their friends round to witness the birth of kittens as a substitute for human birth, and compulsory state sponsored pornography to encourage people to continue sexual practice in the hope that fertility will return. Interestingly, James posits the idea that heterosexuals lose interest in sex once there is no possibility of conception.

God is alarmed and, in a moment which smacks astonishingly of science fiction, declares that if human beings can build such a thing and speak with one language, as they do here, then nothing can be beyond them. Perhaps fearing a rival as Satan would rival Him in Paradise Lost , God puts down the upstart race by giving them different languages: they can no longer understand each other and discord and disunity is sown. God in the Old Testament is inclined to such smiting; one child observed on reading the Bible that He got much nicer as He got older.

We never know if the comet in The Day of the Triffids is a comet or a super weapon: similarly, the human point of view in The Children of Men precludes James from pronouncing that infertility is a plague sent by God, although it is at least a possibility. In any case, P. James was linguistically conservative and would have been unconcerned about such politically correct pedantry: accusations of sexist language use would probably have amused her. A pregnant woman and a fertile male are discovered half way through the novel and come under the protection of Theo Faren, the hero.

The Children of Men ends with an extraordinary, effective, but perhaps baffling allegory of the Christian nativity: the birth of a new child and the probable salvation of the human race. Again, James bucks the dystopian trend by giving the novel an optimistic ending. The Children of Men was not a commercial success in , not least because the reading public was disappointed not to see the return of Commander Dalgleish.

James, used to having her work massacred for the screen, generously said the film was a good story in its own right, and it was better to make a good film which had little to do with a book, than a bad film which followed the source faithfully. The reluctance of the writers Wells, Wyndham and James to identify their novels as science fiction perhaps indicates that science fiction, even more so than Dystopia, is not a respectable genre and is potentially even more open to mockery.

Dystopia, like its kindred genres of satire and science fiction, is often subversive and mischievous. It is often dismissed by some critics as unwholesome, adolescent and unworthy of serious study. If only to irritate such critics, Dystopia should be all the more readily embraced and relished. The close reading skills fostered by the activities in the Content section of this guide, and practised in analysing the set texts, should assist students in studying the texts they encounter in this component.

Working through the Content section should contribute to the development of reading strategies that will enable students to formulate, test and articulate informed and personal responses to the texts they encounter in A level English Literature and beyond. It is important to remind students that, even though the focus of this topic area is Dystopia, the fundamental questions they will ask when reading the set texts for this Component Who is writing? Who narrates? What are the contexts? Who is reading? How can this be interpreted…? Apply to all texts, regardless of period or genre.

The activities below present students with a range of extracts from novels of the dystopian genre. Not all of these activities are from set texts and some are from popular rather than literary fiction. Students might like to consider if there is any worthwhile distinction between these two terms: a student once told me that the former are books people actually like to read and which sell better than the latter.

For example: do the British love Dystopia and tragedy because of our naturally pessimistic disposition, perhaps fostered by the weather? The word "church" first occurs in 1 Nephi , where a prophet named Nephi disguises himself as Laban, a prominent man in Jerusalem whom Nephi had slain:.

And he [Laban's servant], supposing that I spake of the brethren of the church, and that I was truly that Laban whom I had slain, wherefore he did follow me 1 Nephi The concept of a church, meaning a convocation of believers , existed among the House of Israel prior to Christianity.

For instance, Psalms speaks of praising the Lord "in the congregation of the saints"; the Septuagint contains the Greek word "ecclesia" for "congregation," which is also translated as "church" in the New Testament. The Book of Mormon using the word "church" in the same "style" as the KJV is seen by some apologists as support for the Book of Mormon. And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews Alma Scholars note that synagogues did not exist in their modern form before the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian captivity.

The oldest known synagogue is located in Delos, Greece, and has been dated to BC. Cowan contend that certain linguistic properties of the Book of Mormon provide evidence that the book was fabricated by Joseph Smith. The French word "adieu" appears once in the Book of Mormon, in Jacob Supporters of the Book of Mormon argue that the text is a translation into modern English, so the use of a French word is not amiss. For example, Daniel H.

Ludlow contends that it may have been the result of Joseph Smith choosing the best word available to convey the meaning of the original text. A significant portion of the Book of Mormon quotes from the brass plates , which purport to be another source of Old Testament writings mirroring those of the Bible. In many cases, the biblical quotations in the English-language Book of Mormon, are close, or identical to the equivalent sections of the KJV. In 2 Nephi , the Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah , which mentions a "satyr".


Satyrs are creatures from Greek mythology , which are half-man, half-goat. The KJV translates Isaiah thus:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on the Book of Mormon Origin. Prophets and people. Historical authenticity and criticism. Further information: Book of Isaiah. See also: Archaeology and the Book of Mormon. See also: Quaternary extinction event. Book of Mormon portal Latter-day Saints portal. Retrieved May and Bruce M. Long, Mammal evolution, an illustrated guide , Facts on File, p.

Dale Guthrie, New carbon dates link climatic change with human colonization and Pleistocene extinctions, Nature 11 May , Archived from the original on Canadian Geographic Magazine. May Journal of Mammalogy. Maxwell Institute. Brigham Young University. Neil A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Mongolia Today. Facts On File, Inc.

Paul Island, Alaska". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Ethnology Bureau, Vol. Ames: Iowa State University Press, Scientific Monthly : — Johnson states that the stories claimed that the monster was "very large, had a big head, large ears and teeth, and a long nose with which he hit people. Jr October—December American Anthropologist. Lyback, Indian Legends of Eastern America, pp.

Johnson and B. Mayer and I Lehr Brisbin, Jr. Studies of the Book of Mormon , Second Edition. Signature Books. Salt Lake City. Edited by Brigham D. Featured Papers. Archived from the original on 23 February Bennett Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute. Asch and David L.

Charles R. McGimsey and Michael D. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship". The American Indian. Gordon F. Ekholm, American Antiquity. London: Hermes House. Handbook of Aboriginal American Antiquities. Mormon's Codex. Neal A. Latin American insects and entomology. Berkeley: University of California Press. Whittaker, Treacher. Klein, Kathryn ed.

Borah —14 proposed that indigenous weavers began to use wild silk only after sericulture, brought from Europe, began to wane. Sep 30, Webster's Dictionary Purdue University. Retrieved 1 June Retrieved 23 November Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.