Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dystopia the novel

So I was reading Monkey Muck yesterday and he had this great post about dystopian films, and while I do like most dystopian films, I love dystopian novels. I know I am not getting all of the novels about dystopias as I am sure there are many that I have not yet read or have not even heard of yet, but still here is my list of favorite dystopian novels.

First is the Handmaids Tale. I just recently read this one, like a few months ago and really liked it. This book is especially great as it has a real focus on the control of women especially sexually. I am not advocating this, but considering what the fundies want to do to limit sexual reproductive rights of women, it seems to really hit home. It is one of those books that seems like it could come so true and makes me want to read more Atwood books, but I have heard the other novels by her are not quite as good.

Next is Brave New World. This was my favorite dystopian novel prior to The Handmaids Tale. It is such a good and interesting story. Again we have reproduction being controlled, but in a different way than in The Handmaids Tale. This one also seems like it could happen although the technology would need to improve first.

Then is 1984. Many people seem to think that this one is very likely and I agree. We already have Big Brother watching us when Bushie and Co. have us wiretapped.

I am not sure if most people would consider this a dystopian novel, but I do. It seems to be happening as we watch more and more TV and movies and read less and less. As books are still being printed and in seeing the reaction to the release of the newest Harry Potter book (which I will review in a later post), I am not sure that books are really in danger of being burned today, but it still seems to be a bit of a scary prospect to someone like me who loves to read all kinds of books.

There are several other books or stories that I want to mention here, that I have not read yet so I cannot comment on. First, The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas, which is a short story that as I understand is supposed to be dystopian in nature. I do have the book that has this short story in it and I intend to read it soon, but I am in the middle of another book and I want to get through that first. Clockwork Orange, which I own, but have never been able to get through, since it is mentioned in Monkey's post as a dystopian film, than I would guess the book is also dystopian in nature. The other book that I understand is dystopian is Stephen King's The Stand. This is another book that I intend to purchase soon and then will read and be able to judge how dystopian it really is.

There are many other books that I am sure are considered dystopian in nature. In fact I just looked up a list of dystopian literature on Wikipedia and it is a huge list. I have truly not even started to read a lot of dystopian novels. But the article also acknowledges that it is difficult to define a dystopian novel and that this may be a bit controversial at times. There are two points about this list as I looked over it. First, they list Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies as dystopian novels. I don't really agree with either, Animal Farm seemed to be more of a commentary on the Marxists ideas of governace and Lord of Flies, I would think is either a social commentary or possibly a religious parable, but not really dystopian in my mind. Second, many of these novels seem to be based in Science Fiction. Sci Fi can be an integral part of a dystopian novel, such as in Brave New World, but I wonder if these novels truly are dystopian in nature or just Sci Fi that are being given another label so that more people read them and they seem more intellectual. I am not attacking Sci Fi novels, but commenting that just because a book takes place in another culture or governance system that is different does not automatically make it a dystopian novel.

1 comment:

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Of the ones you wrote about, my fave is Brave New World.

Great post.