- What is a "dystopia"?
- The origins of dystopia
- The essence of dystopias
- The best dystopias
- From classic to contemporary
- Orwell and his novels
- Animal Farm
- New world
- Modern dystopias
Before looking at the best books in the dystopian genre, getting acquainted with their content and understanding why books in this genre always arouse the genuine interest of readers, let's return to the origins of the origin of this term.
What is a "dystopia"?
The term "dystopia" appeared in literature as the complete opposite of works written in the genre of utopia. The first writer to launch a whole literary movement was the English philosopher Thomas More. The beginning of the utopian genre is usually derived from his novel Utopia (1516). Actually, most of his works showed an ideal society in which everyone lives happily and calmly. The name of this world is utopia.
In contrast to his "serene" works, the works of writers began to appear, telling about a completely opposite society, country or world. In them, the state restricted the freedom of a person, often the freedom of thought. Artworks,written in this vein, began to be called a dystopia.
In dictionaries, "dystopia" is characterized as a crisis of hope, the senselessness of the revolutionary struggle, the ineradicability of social evil. Science is seen not as a way to solve global problems and a way to build social order, but as a means of enslaving man.
It is quite difficult to determine which of the books in this genre are the most popular, since their rating, as a rule, depends on many circumstances: country and government, social and economic factors, time and age of readers. Of course, apart from the best books of utopia and dystopia, are the first works written in these genres.
The origins of dystopia
The birthplace of this term, as well as its antagonist, was England. In 1848, the philosopher John Mill first used the word "dystopian" as the complete opposite of "utopian". As a literary genre, the term "dystopia" was introduced by G. Negley and M. Patrick in their work "In Search of Utopia" (1952).
The genre itself flourished much earlier. In the twenties, on the wave of world wars and revolutions, the ideas of utopianism began to be realized. Not surprisingly, the first country to implement such ideas was Bolshevik Russia. The construction of a new society aroused genuine interest in the world community, and the new system began to be mercilessly ridiculed in English-language works. They still occupy the first lines of the lists of "The best dystopias", "Books of all time":
- 1932 - "Oh, wonderfulnew world”, O. Huxley.
- 1945 - Animal Farm, J. Orwell.
- 1949 - "1984", J. Orwell.
In these novels, along with the rejection of communist tyranny, like any other, the general dismay at the possibility of a soulless civilization is reflected. These works have stood the test of time as the best dystopias. Books of this genre are in demand even now. So what is the secret of dystopia?
The essence of dystopias
As can be seen from the above, a dystopia is a parody of a utopian idea. She emphasizes the danger of mixing social "fiction" with facts. That is, it draws the line between reality and fiction. In dystopias that reveal the so-called ideal society, the inner world of a person living in this society is described. His feelings, thoughts.
Seen "from the inside" shows the essence of this society, its unsightly underside. In fact, it turns out that the ideal society is not so perfect. Understand how an ordinary person pays for universal happiness, and call for the best dystopias. Books, as a rule, are written by authors for whom the human soul, unique and unpredictable, becomes the object of study.
Dystopia displays the "new world" from the inside from the position of the person living in it. For a huge, soulless state mechanism, a person is like a cog. And at a certain moment, natural human feelings awaken in a person, which are incompatible with the existing system built on restrictions, prohibitions and submission.interests of the state.
A conflict arises between the individual and the social order. Dystopia shows the incompatibility of utopian ideas with the interests of an individual. Reveals the absurdity of utopian projects. It clearly demonstrates how the proclaimed equality turns into leveling; the state structure forcibly determines human behavior; technological progress turns a person into a mechanism. This is what the best dystopias are meant to show.
Utopian works point the way to perfection. The goal of dystopia is to show the absurdity of this idea, to warn of the dangers that await along the way. Comprehending social and spiritual processes, analyzing delusions, dystopia does not aim to deny everything, but only seeks to point out dead ends and consequences, possible ways to overcome it.
The best dystopias
Books that preceded the appearance of dystopia are designed to show what disturbing phenomena of our time can lead to, what fruits they can bring. These novels include the following:
- 1871 - "The Coming Race", E. Bulwer-Lytton.
- 1890 - "Caesar's Column", I. Donnelly.
- 1907 - The Iron Heel, J. London.
In the thirties, a number of works appeared - warnings and dystopias that pointed to the fascist threat:
- 1930 - Mr. Parham's Autocracy, G. Wells.
- 1935 - "It's impossible for us", S. Lewis.
- 1936 - "War with the Salamanders", K.Chapek.
This also includes the works of Huxley and Orwell mentioned above. Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by R. Bradbury is considered one of the best novels in this genre.
So, ma figured out what a dystopia is. Books (a list of the best of them, the most famous, which are recognized as unsurpassed at all times within the framework of this direction, we will consider in more detail below), these are still in demand. Moreover, today they are more relevant than ever. What is their value? What are the authors of these novels warning about?
From classic to contemporary
R. Bradbury's story "451 degrees Fahrenheit" is undoubtedly a classic of the dystopian genre. A book for all time. The author, one of the few, warns here about the threat of totalitarianism. The opinions of readers who leave reviews about the work are similar: how much the author foresaw. What is happening around now, Bradbury predicted a few decades ago. What is this story about, which for many years has not left the first lines of the "Best Dystopia" list?
Books of this genre are really written by "masters of the image of human souls." How accurately many of them were able to reflect the inner world of a person and the distant future at that time. The story "451 degrees" is a very bold, well-written book. The author introduces the reader to ordinary people. It introduces you to an ordinary house, where the hostess renounces the surrounding life with “shells” - a radio or animated TV walls. Familiar? If "TV walls" are changed to the words "Internetand TV”, then we get the reality around us.
The world drawn by the author sparkles with all the colors of the rainbow, pours from the speakers, billboards stretch along the tracks in continuous multi-meter canvases. Friends are replaced by “relatives”, who are interested in business from the screens and take up all their free time. There is no time left for the surrounding beauty - for the first flowers and the spring sun, sunsets and sunrises, even for your own children.
But people living among talking walls are happy. And the recipe for their happiness is quite simple: they are the same. They want nothing, they live only in the world of their living rooms. They don't need more. They remember little, they think little, their heads are filled with the same things.
Books are banned in this world. Keeping books is punishable. Here they are burned. Firefighters don't save people's lives, they don't put out fires. They burn books. Thus destroying human lives. One of the heroes of the story, firefighter Guy Montag, meets once with a girl who manages to “shake up” this hero, awaken in him a craving for a normal life, for true human values.
Orwell and his novels
The works of this author are recognized as the best dystopias. Orwell's books "1984" and "Animal Farm" perfectly show that people who are able to think differently are outlaws.
"1984" is an amazing novel in which society is shown as a totalitarian system based on spiritual and physical enslavement. Filled with hatred and fear. The inhabitants of this world live under the vigilant eye of the "big brother".The "Ministry of Truth" destroys history, regulates which facts to destroy, which to correct or leave.
"Atomization", that is, social selection, is considered part of the state machine. A person can be arrested, they can be released. And it happens that he goes missing. Living in this world is not easy. The state wages wars, explaining to the population that it is for their good. "Peace is war." There are no essential goods, food is a measured ration.
Shock work for the benefit of society, extracurricular work, subbotniks, public holidays - a common occurrence in this world. A step away from generally accepted laws - and the person is not a tenant. "Freedom is slavery." The professionals of the Orwellian world are busy disinforming the population. Destruction and distortion of documents, substitution of facts. Lies everywhere, blatant lies. “Ignorance is power.”
Orwell's novels are heavy but strong. Undoubtedly, these are the best dystopias. The books are well written, from the first to the last page are permeated with common sense. The author is driven only by good intentions - to warn humanity from a social catastrophe. Show that violence, cruelty, ruthlessness, the silence of society give rise to absolute power. In the end, only those who live for the party are happy. But absolute power kills the individual. Returns it to its original state. Even more. Absolute power can destroy humanity.
The second work of this author, which is considered one of the best dystopias, is Animal Farm (the secondname - "Animal farm"). Here the author does not show the state, the political system or any system. In this work, he classifies people by comparing them with animals.
Sheep are weak-willed, stupid people who do and say only what they are told. They are unable to think with their own heads and therefore take all innovations for granted. Horses are naive, good-natured, ready to work day and night for an idea. These are what keep the world going. Dogs do not disdain dirty work. Their main task is to fulfill the will of the owner. They are ready to serve one today, another tomorrow, as long as they are well fed.
Fierce boar Napoleon in Orwell's novel is recognizable. A person who is ready to erect a throne for himself in any place, if only to hoist himself on it and hold on by any means. The collapse, which the author presents in the novel as a young boar, was supposed to be a scapegoat. Such a person is convenient under any authority - to accuse, to blame any sin on him. Everything is clear with the guinea pig Squealer - he is able to turn black into white, and vice versa. A convincing liar and a great speaker, he changes the facts with just one word.
A satirical, instructive parable, close to the realities of life. Democracy, monarchy, socialism, communism - what's the difference. As long as people come to power, low in their desires and impulses, no matter in what country and under what system, society will not see anything good. Good for the people - a worthy ruler.
In Aldous Huxley's novel "Brave New World" not allas scary as Orwell. His world is based on a strong World State that has been embraced by technocracy. Small reservations, as economically unprofitable, have been left as nature reserves. It would seem that everything is stable and correct. But no.
People in this world are divided into castes: alphas are engaged in mental work - this is the first grade, alpha pluses occupy leadership positions, alpha minuses are people of lesser rank. Betas are women for alphas. Beta pros and cons are, respectively, smarter and dumber. Deltas and gammas - servants, agricultural workers. Epsilons are the lowest stratum, mentally handicapped population doing routine mechanical work.
Individuals are grown in glass bottles, brought up differently, even the color of their clothes is different. The main condition of the new world is the standardization of people. The motto is "Community, sameness, stability." Rejecting history, they all live for today. Everyone and everything is subject to expediency for the benefit of the World State.
The main problem of this world is that artificial equality cannot satisfy thinking people. Some alphas cannot adapt to life, feel complete loneliness and alienation. But without conscious elements, the new world is impossible, because they are responsible for the well-being of the rest. Such people accept service as hard labor or leave for the islands due to disagreements with society.
The pointlessness of the existence of this society is that they are regularly brainwashed. The purpose of their life was consumption. They live and work in order to acquire absolutely unnecessary things. They are availablevaried information, and they consider themselves sufficiently educated. But they have no desire to engage in science or self-education, to grow spiritually. They are distracted by insignificant and mundane things. At the heart of this society is the same totalitarian regime.
If all people can think and feel, stability will collapse. If they are deprived of this, then they will all turn into disgusting stupid clones. The usual society will no longer exist, it will be replaced by castes of artificially bred individuals. Organizing a society through genetic programming, while destroying all the main institutions, is tantamount to destroying it.
The above mentioned books are considered the best in their genre. These can also include:
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962).
- "We" Evgeny Zamyatin (1924).
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954).
These works are considered classics. But modern authors have also created many wonderful books in the utopian genre.
Books (a list of the best can be seen below) of this century differ from the classics in that they are so closely intertwined with various genres that it is problematic to separate one from the other. They contain elements of science fiction, and post-apocalypse, and cyberpunk. But still, several books by modern authors deserve the attention of fans of dystopias:
- Lauren Oliver's Delirium Trilogy (2011).
- Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Don't Let Me Go (2005).
- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susan Collins (2008).
Without a doubt, the genre we are considering is gaining more and more popularity. The dystopia invites readers to see a world where there will never be a place for them.
Readers in their reviews agree on one thing: not all dystopias are easy to read. There are among them "heavy books, given with difficulty." But the idea and essence of what was written is simply surprising: how much the events taking place in the novels resemble modern life, the recent past. These are serious, penetrating novels that make you think. Many of the books can be read with a pencil in hand - people note the abundance of interesting passages and quotes. Not all dystopias are read in one breath, but each work remains in memory for a long time.