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Parent categories: fiction - science-fiction

Related: apocalypse

Contrast: utopia

Titles: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Unidentified book cover of 1984 (1949) - George Orwell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] [...]

Nineteen Eighty-Four is an allegorical political novel written by George Orwell. The story takes place in a nightmarish dystopia where the omnipresent State enforces perfect conformity among members of a totalitarian Party through indoctrination, propaganda, fear, and ruthless punishment. [...]


A dystopia is the antithesis of a utopian society.

A dystopian society is usually characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government, or some other kind of oppressive social control.

The first use of the word has been credited to John Stuart Mill, whose knowledge of Greek would suggest that he meant it as a place where things are bad, rather than simply the opposite of Utopia. The Greek prefix 'dys'/'dis' signifies 'ill','bad' or 'abnormal', whereas 'ou' means 'not' (Utopia means 'nowhere', and is a pun on 'Eutopia' meaning 'happy place' - the prefix 'eu' means 'well'). So 'dystopia' and 'utopia' are not exact opposites in the sense that dysphoria and euphoria are opposites. [Mar 2006]

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dystopia [Mar 2006]

Utopian and dystopian fiction

Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of a nightmare world. Both are commonly found in science fiction novels and stories.

The word utopia was first used in this context by Thomas More in his work Utopia; literally it means "nowhere". In this work, More sets out a vision of an ideal society. Other examples include Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and B.F. Skinner's Walden Two. Gulliver's Travels may also be seen as a satirical utopia because it is actually a comment on the society the author lived in. The same goes for Erewhon by Samuel Butler.

For examples of dystopias, see two of George Orwell's books, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, as well as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Ayn Rand's Anthem and William Gibson's cyberpunk novels. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopian_and_dystopian_fiction [Feb 2005]

Dystopian literature

This is a list of examples of dystopian literature.

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dystopian_literature [Dec 2005]

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