Yesterday I wrote about VOX. I reviewed it faviourably and fairly arguing that it is well integrated into the dystopian genre. Today I want to briefly talk about three dystopias that have engaged my imagination.
1984 is one of my faviourate books. I would go as far as to say that it is one of the best books written in this genre. As a stand alone novel it is effective but I have found my enjoyment much improved by reading other works by Orwell. Its in The Road to Wigan Pier that we see the prole quarter in 1930s Britain, its in Keep the Apserdisa Flying that we see the Prole reaction to Winston Smith ordering the wrong drinks at a bar and in The Lion and the Unicorn we see the challenge of perverted language.
When I was sixteen my mother banned me from reading Brave New World. The power of this book lies in the reaction against the Utopias of HG Wells. Wells had presented to the public a glittering vision of the future that Huxley demolishes with with biting satire. The plastic nature of the World State is shown up for the soullessness that it is through the eyes of the savage John who fits in nowhere.
My last choice is Clockwork Orange. Now one of my friends is a leading authority on this amazing novel so I don’t want to say too much. However what interests me about this novel is not so much the Alex narrative but rather the state and the society in which Alex lives.
Dystopia an engaging genre that is best when it comments on the ‘real’ world. Utopias and Dystopias age badly when they do not talk to universal issues and these novels are powerful because they speak to issues of totalitarianism, infantalisation and state control and finally to reactions to youth.