Before considering the best books in the genre of dystopia, get acquainted with their content and understand why the books of this genre at all times arouse genuine interest of readers, we will return to the origins of the origin of this term.
What is an "anti-utopia"?
The term "anti-utopia" appeared in the literature as the complete opposite of works written in the genre of utopia. The first writer who started the whole literary movement was the English philosopher Thomas More. The beginning of the utopian genre is usually taken from his novel Utopia (1516). Actually, most of his works showed an ideal society in which all live happily and peacefully. The name of this world is utopia.
In contrast to his "serene" works began to appear writers who talked about a completely opposite society, country or world. In them, the state restricted human freedom, and often freedom of thought. Works written in this vein, began to be called an anti-utopia.
In dictionaries, "anti-utopia" is characterized as a crisis of hope, senselessness of the revolutionary struggle, and the unavoidability of social evil. Science is not seen as a way to solve global problems and the way to build a social order, but as a means of enslaving a person.
It is rather difficult to determine which of the books in this genre are the most popular, as their rating, as a rule, depends on many circumstances: country and state structure, social and economic factors, age and age of readers. Of course, apart from the best books of utopia and anti-utopia, there are the first works written in these genres.
The origins of dystopia
The homeland of this term, as well as its antagonist, became England. In 1848, the philosopher John Mill used the word "anti-utopian" for the first time as the complete opposite of the "utopian". As a literary genre, G. Neglie and M. Patrick introduced the term "anti-utopia" in his work "In Search of Utopia" (1952).
The genre itself blossomed 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 realize such ideas was Bolshevik Russia. The construction of a new society aroused genuine interest of the world community, and the new system mercilessly began to be laughed at in English-language works. They still occupy the first lines of the lists "Best anti-utopias", "Books of all times":
- 1932 - "Oh, Brave New 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, reflects a general confusion over the possibility of soulless civilization. These works have passed the test of time as the best anti-utopias. Books of this genre are in demand even now. So what's the secret of anti-utopia?
The essence of anti-utopias
As can be seen from the above, anti-utopia is a parody of a utopian idea. She emphasizes the danger of mixing social "fiction" with facts. That is, draws a line between reality and fiction. In the anti-utopias that reveal the so-called ideal society, the inner world of the person living in this society is described. His feelings, thoughts.
The seen "from within" shows the essence of this society, its ugly underside. In fact, it turns out that an ideal society is not so perfect. Understand how an ordinary person pays for universal happiness, and call for the best anti-utopias. Books, as a rule, are written by authors for whom the human soul becomes an object of research, unique and unpredictable.
Anti-Utopia displays the "new world" from within from the perspective of the person living in it. For a huge, soulless state mechanism, man is like a cog. And at a certain moment natural human feelings awaken in a person that are incompatible with the existing system, built on restrictions, prohibitions and subordination to the interests of the state.
There is a conflict between the individual and the social order. Anti-utopia shows the incompatibility of utopian ideas with the interests of the individual. It reveals the absurdity of utopian projects. Demonstrates clearly how the proclaimed equality turns into equalization; The state system violently determines human behavior; Technological progress turns a person into a mechanism. This is intended to show the best anti-utopia.
Works in the genre of utopia indicate the path to perfection. The goal of the same dystopia is to show the absurdity of this idea, to warn of the dangers that await along this path. Comprehending the social and spiritual processes, analyzing the errors, the anti-utopia does not aim to deny everything, but only tends to point to deadlocks and consequences, possible ways of overcoming.
The best anti-utopia
The books that preceded the appearance of anti-utopia are designed to show what the disturbing phenomena of modernity can lead to, what fruits they can bring. Such novels include the following:
- 1871 - "The Coming Race", E. Bulwer-Lytton.
- 1890 - "The Column of Caesar", I. Donelly.
- 1907 - The Iron Heel, J. London.
In the thirties, a number of works appeared - warnings and anti-utopias, which pointed to the fascist threat:
- 1930 - "The autocracy of Mr. Pargem," H. Wells.
- 1935 - "It's impossible for us", S. Lewis.
- 1936 - "War with the Newts", K. Czapek.
This can also be attributed to the above works by Huxley, Orwell. "451 degrees Fahrenheit" (1953) R. Bradbury is considered one of the best novels in this genre.
So, ma figured out what an anti-utopia is. Books (a list of the best of them, the most famous ones, which for all time are recognized as unsurpassed in 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?
From classics to modern times
The story of R. Bradbury "451 degrees Fahrenheit", undoubtedly, is the classic of the anti-utopian 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 feedback about the work are similar: how much the author foresaw. What is happening around now, Bradbury predicted a few dozen years ago. What is this story, which for many years does not leave the first lines of the list of "Best anti-utopias"?
The books of this genre are really written by "masters of the image of human souls". How accurately many of them could display the inner world of man and the future far away in those times. The story "451 degrees" is a very bold, well-written book. The author acquaints the reader with ordinary people. Introduces a normal house, where the hostess abandons the surrounding life "shells" - a radio receiver or revived television walls. Familiar? If the "TV wall" is replaced by the words "Internet and TV", then we will receive the surrounding reality.
The world, painted by the author, sparkles with all the colors of the rainbow, pours from the speakers, billboards stretch along the tracks with continuous multi-meter canvases. Friends are replaced by "relatives", who are interested in business from the screens and take up all their free time. On the surrounding beauty of time does not remain - for the first flowers and spring sun, sunsets and sunrises, even for their own children.
But people living among the talking walls are happy. And the recipe for their happiness is quite simple: they are the same. They do not want anything, they live only in the world of their living rooms. They do not need more. They do not remember much, they do not think much, their heads are crammed with one and the same.
Books in this world are banned. Keeping books - is punished. Here they are burned. Firefighters do not save the lives of people, do not extinguish the fire. They burn books. Destroying human lives. One of the heroes of the story, firefighter Guy Montag, meets once with a girl who manages to "shake" this hero, to awaken in him the craving for normal life, to true human values.
Orwell and his novels
The works of this author are recognized as the best anti-utopias. Orwell's books "1984" and "Animal Farm" perfectly show that people who can not think like others are outlawed.
"1984" is a terrific 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 "elder brother". "The Ministry of Truth" destroys history, regulates what facts to destroy, which ones to correct or leave.
"Spraying", that is, social selection, is considered part of the state machine. People can be arrested, they can release. And it happens that it disappears without a trace. Living in this world is not easy. The state is waging wars, explaining to the population that it is for their own good. "Peace is war." There is no essential goods, food is a measured ration.
Shock work for the benefit of society, extracurricular work, subbotniks, public holidays - a common phenomenon in this world. A step away from the generally accepted laws - and the person is not a tenant. "Freedom is slavery." The professionals of the Orwellian world are engaged in disinformation of the population. Destruction and distortion of documents, substitution of facts. Everywhere lies, a blatant lie. "Ignorance is power."
Orwell's novels are heavy, but powerful. Certainly, these are the best anti-utopias. Books are written well, from the first and to the last page are permeated with sound thoughts. The author is motivated only by good intentions - to warn humanity against social catastrophe. Show that violence, cruelty, ruthlessness, silence of society generate absolute power. In the end, only those who live for the sake of the party are happy. But absolute power kills a person. Returns it to the primitive state. Even more. Absolute power can destroy humanity.
The second work of this author, which is considered one of the best anti-utopias, is "Animal Farm" (the second name is "Animal Farm"). Here the author shows not the state, political system or any system. In this work he classifies people, 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 head and from this perceive all innovations as something self-evident. The horses are naive, good-natured, ready to work for the idea day and night. On such is the world. Dogs do not shun dirty work. Their main task is to fulfill the will of the owner. They are ready to serve today alone, tomorrow to others, if only they are fed well.
The ferocious boar Napoleon in Orwell's novel is recognizable. A person who is ready to erect a throne in any place, just to get on him and hold on by any means. The collapse, which the author presents in the novel as a young boar, should have been a scapegoat. Such a person is comfortable with any power - to blame, to fall on him any sin. With the Stalker's gilt, everything is clear - he can make black in white, and vice versa. A convincing liar and a fine speaker, he changes facts by one word only.
A satirical, instructive parable, close to the realities of life. Democracy, monarchy, socialism, communism - what a difference. While people will come to power, low in their desires and impulses, it does not matter in what country and under what order, society will not see anything good. The blessing for the people is a worthy ruler.
In the novel Aldous Huxley "Oh, Brave New World" is not all as terrible as that of Orwell. His world is based on a strong World State, which embraced the technocracy. Small reservations are left, as economically unprofitable, as reserves. It would seem that everything is stable and correct. But no.
People in this world are divided into castes: the alpha are engaged in mental work - this is the first grade, the alpha-plus occupy leadership positions, alpha minuses - people of less rank. Beta - women for alf. Beta-pluses and minuses, respectively, are smarter and more stupid. Deltas and scales - service, agricultural workers. Epsilons - the lowest layer, the mentally retarded population, performing routine mechanical work.
Individuals are grown in glass bottles, are brought up in different ways, even the color of their clothes is different. The main condition of the new world is the standardization of people. The motto is "Common, identical, stable". Rejecting history, they all live for today. All and all are subordinated to expediency for the benefit of the World State.
The main problem of this world is that artificial equality can not satisfy thinking people. Some alpha can not adapt to life, they feel total loneliness and alienation. But without conscious elements, a new world is impossible, because they are responsible for the welfare of others. Such people accept service as hard labor or leave for the islands because of disagreements with the society.
The meaninglessness of the existence of this society is that they are regularly brainwashed. The goal of their lives was consumption. They live and work in order to acquire absolutely unnecessary things. They are available a variety of 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 minor and mundane things. At the heart of this society is the same totalitarian regime.
If all people can think and feel, then stability will collapse. If they are deprived of this, then all of them will turn into disgusting stupid clones. A habitual society will no longer exist, it will be replaced by castes of artificially bred individuals. To organize society through genetic programming, while destroying all the basic institutions, is tantamount to its destruction.
In their genre, the books mentioned above are considered to be the best. These can also include:
- "Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess (1962).
- "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924).
- "The 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 (the list of the best ones can be seen below) of this century differ from the classics in that they are so closely interwoven with different genres that it is problematic to separate one from the other. In them, there are elements of science fiction, and post-apocalypse, and cyberpunk. But still several books of modern authors deserve the attention of fans of anti-utopias:
- Trilogy Lauren Oliver "Delirium" (2011).
- Roman Kazuo Ishiguro "Do not Let Me Go" (2005).
- Trilogy by Susan Collins "The Hunger Games" (2008).
Without a doubt, the genre in question is becoming increasingly popular. Anti-Utopia offers readers to see a world in which there will never be a place for them.
Readers in their reviews agree on one thing: not all anti-utopias are read easily. There are among them "heavy books, given with difficulty." But the idea and essence of what is written just surprises: how much events 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 an abundance of interesting places and quotes. Not all anti-utopias are read in one breath, but each work remains in memory for a long time.