Dystopias in Contemporary Literature

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CRITICISM

Baggesen, Søren. “Utopian and Dystopian Pessimism: Le Guin's The Word for World Is Forest and Tiptree's ‘We Who Stole the Dream.’” Science Fiction Studies 14, no. 1 (1987): 34-43.

Baggesen discusses the two works by Ursula K. Le Guin and James Tiptree, respectively, in terms of their perception of evil, concluding that, while both are pessimistic in tone, Le Guin's tale is essentially utopian, while Tiptree's is dystopian.

Bittner, James W. “Chronosophy, Aesthetics, and Ethics in Le Guin's The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia.” In No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, edited by Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph Olander, pp. 244-70. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983.

Bittner examines Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed in terms of her treatment of the past and future as influences on a realistic present society.

Booker, M. Keith. The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: Fiction as Social Criticism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994, 197 p.

Booker presents a collection of critical essays that treat the works of Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell, as well as a number of themes related to dystopian literature.

Cavalcanti, Ildney. “Utopias of/f Language in Contemporary Feminist Literary Dystopias.” Utopian Studies 11, no. 2 (2000): 152-80.

Cavalcanti explores several feminist dystopias, noting that they often set up conflicts between utopia and dystopia.

Deer, Glenn. “Rhetorical Strategies in The Handmaid's Tale: Dystopia and the Paradoxes of Power.” English Studies in Canada 18, no. 2 (June 1992): 215-33.

Deer examines Margaret Atwood's narrative strategy in The Handmaid's Tale, focusing on a perceived conflict between condemning and using offensive rhetorical mechanisms.

Ferns, Chris. “The Value/s of Dystopia: The Handmaid's Tale and the Anti-Utopian Tradition.” Dalhousie Review 69, no. 3 (fall 1989): 373-82.

Ferns discusses Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as a dystopia that offers the mirror-image of the dream of an ideal society.

Hughes, David Y. “The Ghost in the Machine: The Theme of Player Piano.” In America as Utopia, edited by Kenneth M. Roemer, pp. 108-14. New York: Burt Franklin & Company, 1981.

Hughes explores Kurt Vonnegut's portrayal of society in Player Piano, asserting that his vision of dystopia differs from that of other writers because Vonnegut demonstrates that the supremacy of technology over mankind is the result of ambivalence on the part of man.

Ketterer, David. “Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: A Contextual Dystopia.” Science Fiction Studies 16, no. 2 (July 1989): 209-17.

Ketterer describes Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale as a “contextual dystopia” concerned not only with historical context, but also with a “succeeding discontinuous context” implied in the novel's “Notes.”

Mihailescu, Calin Andrei. “Mind the Gap: Dystopia as Fiction.” Style 25, no. 2 (summer 1991): 211-22.

Mihailescu explores the idea of comprehensiveness and meaning in dystopian fiction, concluding that the classic works of the genre deal with the distinction between what is arbitrary and what is not.

Murphy, Patrick D. “Reducing the Dystopian Distance: Pseudo-Documentary Framing in Near-Future Fiction.” Science Fiction Studies 17, no. 1 (1990): 25-40.

Murphy discusses Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's Warday, and the Journey onward and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as works that use documentary techniques to “once more make strange what has become all too conventional.”

Seed, David. “The Flight from the Good Life: Fahrenheit 451 in the Context of Postwar American Dystopias.” Journal of American Studies 28 (August 1994): 225-40.

Seed examines Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 as a dystopia criticizing post-World War II prosperity coupled with political disinterestedness in American society.

VanSpanckeren, Kathryn, and Jan Garden Castro, editors. Margaret Atwood: Vision and Forms. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988, 269 p.

VanSpanckeren and Castro present a collection of critical essays that includes several studies of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, as well as an interview with Atwood.

Watt, Donald. “Burning Bright: Fahrenheit 451 as Symbolic Dystopia.” In Ray Bradbury, edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander, pp. 195-213. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1980.

Watt offers a detailed examination of the themes and style of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, emphasizing Bradbury's subtle, artful treatment of the theme of the impact of technology on man's destiny.

Willingham, Ralph. “Dystopian Visions in the Plays of Elias Canetti.” Science Fiction Studies 19, no. 1 (1992): 69-74.

Willingham discusses two plays by Elias Canetti—Comedy of Vanity and Life-Terms—that focus on “individual will [as] the key to totalitarian oppression.”

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Criticism: Feminist Readings Of Dystopias