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British utopian/dystopian novel in the first half of the twentieth century.I'd like to...

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cynmarshall | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 28, 2012 at 12:08 AM via web

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British utopian/dystopian novel in the first half of the twentieth century.

I'd like to do some research on the subject of British utopian/dystopian novels in the first half of the twentieth century. I'd like to look at three texts. So far I've selected 1984 (Orwell) and Brave New World (Huxley). Can you please recommend a third text? 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 28, 2012 at 2:13 AM (Answer #1)

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There is a dystopian novel written by Katherine Burdekin (pseudonym Murray Constatine) in 1937 called Swastika Night. Written as the Nazis were gaining power, and prior to the onset of World War II, Burdekin supposes what the future would be like 700 from her time (mid 20th century) if the Axis powers (namely Germany and Japan) won World War II. The novel is based largely on Hitler's speeches and Mein Kampf and his dream of a "thousand year reich."

In the novel, (again, written in 1937) Burdekin accurately predicts the Nazi program of extermination for the Jewish people. She also predicts that a Cold War follows the conclusion of World War II. In the novel, the Cold War is sustained between Germany and Japan.

In addition to making actual historical predictions of events occurring in World War II before they'd happened, Burdekin paints a very stark picture of the future of Europe under Nazi power centuries after WWII. This includes the mythologizing of Hitler as a God. He is described as a blond, blue-eyed warrior who is personally responsible for ending World War II. In this bleak future, history has been rewritten to suit the mythology of the Nazi regime. But there are traces of actual history which the protagonist finds and intends to pass on so that the truth is not forgotten.

In this future dystopia, women are heavily oppressed and essentially only used for breeding. (Mein Kampf expresses some overly masculine, anti-feminist sentiments.) The men in the novel engage in homosexual relationships because women are considered almost like animals. The degradation of women is a huge part of the novel. It is a pioneering work of feminist and dystopian literature.

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