Dystopias in Contemporary Literature Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

John Huntington (essay date July 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Huntington, John. “Utopian and Anti-Utopian Logic: H. G. Wells and His Successors.” Science Fiction Studies 9, no. 2 (July 1982): 122-46.

[In the following essay, Huntington traces H. G. Wells's work within the dystopian genre, arguing that Wells had a profound influence on later dystopian authors such as Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and Yevgeny Zamyatin.]


It is generally recognized that Wells's work before 1900 is less prophetic and utopian than his later work. The ironic, comic stories and the great “scientific romances” constitute a body of literature that, while intensely interested in the possibilities of...

(The entire section is 14679 words.)

Gorman Beauchamp (essay date spring 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Beauchamp, Gorman. “Technology in the Dystopian Novel.” Modern Fiction Studies 32, no. 1 (spring 1986): 53-63.

[In the following essay, Beauchamp examines the role of technology in various utopian and dystopian works, noting that the fear of technology is a prominent characteristic of the dystopian genre.]

In 1903 the late Victorian novelist George Gissing wrote:

I hate and fear “science” because of my conviction that for a long time to come if not forever, it will be the remorseless enemy of mankind. I see it destroying all simplicity and gentleness of life, all beauty of the world; I see it restoring barbarism...

(The entire section is 4725 words.)

Renata Galtseva and Irina Rodnyanskaya (essay date spring 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Galtseva, Renata, and Irina Rodnyanskaya. “The Obstacle: The Human Being, or the Twentieth Century in the Mirror of Dystopia.” South Atlantic Quarterly 90, no. 2 (spring 1991): 293-322.

[In the following essay, Galtseva and Rodnyanskaya discuss the role of the human being in the works of several modern dystopian authors, arguing that the individual always retains inner freedom even in the most regimented futuristic societies.]

… one should not become so stupefied as to become used to everything.

—Franz Kafka, The Castle

The landscape after the battle. … When it finally...

(The entire section is 11308 words.)

M. Keith Booker (essay date winter 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Booker, M. Keith. “African Literature and the World System: Dystopian Fiction, Collective Experience, and the Postcolonial Condition.” Research in African Literatures 26, no. 4 (winter 1995): 58-75.

[In the following essay, Booker presents an overview of contemporary African dystopian fiction, focusing on the African writers's customization of the genre to reflect their native and postcolonial experiences.]

Postcolonial writers, actively engaged in the construction of cultural identities for their new societies, often include strong utopian elements in their work. On the other hand, actual experience in the postcolonial world has been anything but utopian....

(The entire section is 9559 words.)

Theodore Dalrymple (essay date January 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Dalrymple, Theodore. “The Dystopian Imagination.” Current, no. 439 (January 2002): 29-33.

[In the following essay, Dalrymple discusses some of the reasons for the popularity and proliferation of dystopian writings in the twentieth century.]

Why did the twentieth century produce so many—and such vivid—dystopias, works of fiction depicting not an ideal future but a future as terrible as could be imagined? After all, never had material progress been greater; never should man have felt himself freer of the anxieties that, with good reason, had beset him in the past. Famine had all but disappeared, except in civil wars or where regimes deliberately...

(The entire section is 4305 words.)