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Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Life

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Abstract

Plato’s Republic and More’s Utopia served as models for most of the literary utopias written between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, dystopian novels began to displace their positive counterparts. Five dystopian fictions published between 1891 and 1949—Jerome’s “The New Utopia”, Wells’s The Sleeper Awakes, Zamyatin’s We, Huxley’s Brave New World, and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four—exhibit many common themes, such as (1) isolation, (2) totalitarianism, (3) technology in service of the state, (4) rigid social organization, (5) uniformity and (6) social control. In the twenty-first century, some of these characteristics of fictional dystopian societies have become realities in the form of unseen technological surveillance and control. Nevertheless, utopia lives on as an ideal, for instance in philosophical transhumanism.

Keywords

  • Utopia
  • Dystopia
  • Dystopian fiction
  • Technology
  • Internet
  • Surveillance

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Heehs, P. (2021). Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Life. In: Giri, A.K. (eds) Roots, Routes and a New Awakening. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-7122-0_17

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