Entering Dystopia, Entering Erewhon

in Critical Survey
Patrick Parrinder University of Reading j.p.parrinder@reading.ac.uk

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Abandon hope all ye who enter here: a society cannot be truly dystopian if travellers can come and go freely. Anti-utopias and 'satirical utopias' - that is, societies considered perfect by their advocates but not by the implied reader - must be well-regulated enough to prevent the possible disruption caused by a visitor. There is no exit at all from the classic twentieth-century dystopias, which end either in an actual death, like that of the Savage in Huxley's Brave New World (1932), or in a spiritual death like Winston Smith's in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Any glimmers of hope that the protagonist may have felt are quickly destroyed.

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