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Title: Mid twentieth-century dystopian fiction and political thought
Author: Stock, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 2712 736X
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines political and social thought in dystopian fiction of the mid-twentieth century. It focuses on works by four authors: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924), Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), and John Wyndham’s postwar novels (especially The Day of the Triffids (1951), The Kraken Wakes (1953) and The Chrysalids (1955)). The central concern of this thesis is how political and social ideas are developed within a literary mode which evolved as response to both literary concerns and political ideas, including on the one hand literary utopias, science fiction, satire, and literary modernism; and on the other hand modernity, social Darwinism, apocalypse, war, and changes in gender roles in the broader culture. It is argued that the narrative structures of these novels are crucial in enabling them to perform such critical tasks. These texts use fictionality to enact self-reflexive critiques of the disasters of their age that both acknowledge their own emergence from the post-Enlightenment tradition in the history of political ideas, and criticise the failings of this very tradition of which they are part. The work of a variety of critical theorists, including Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Hannah Arendt and Raymond Williams inform this analysis. This thesis aims to demonstrate how comparative readings of critical theory and literature can reveal their mutually interactive significance as cultural reactions to historical events. Dystopian fictions of the mid-twentieth century are both important documents in cultural history, and valuable literary examples of the development and diffusion of a plurality of modernisms within popular fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available