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Topic: Speaking of Dystopic!

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Posted on April 3, 2010 at 19:45:53 [Post link]
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All the conformity and moral ambiguity of yesterday's April Fools' prank begs the question; which is the superior dystopic novel?

Though I have a soft spot for Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange edges it out by a nose. The ability to make such a reprehensible protagonist likeable is a skill few novelists attain.

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Posted on April 3, 2010 at 23:39:03 [Post link]
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1984.

Why is this a question?


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Posted on April 4, 2010 at 1:26:19 [Post link]
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The only novel in this category that I've read and can name from the top of my head is Farenheit 451, so I can't really compare it to anything else. I've been meaning to get to 1984 eventually.


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Posted on April 4, 2010 at 16:23:12 [Post link]
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If you want to feel like total shit, read Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale". I felt so bad that I couldn't finish it. At least 1984 gave you some HOPE before yanking it away.

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Posted on April 5, 2010 at 0:14:26 [Post link]
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Originally posted by The Helldragon
If you want to feel like total shit, read Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale". I felt so bad that I couldn't finish it. At least 1984 gave you some HOPE before yanking it away.


That made it worse for me. It felt like Big Brother was mocking me.

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Posted on April 6, 2010 at 2:28:06 [Post link]
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If you're talking dystopian fiction in terms of fame; no one, save maybe Fahrenheit 451, holds a candle to 1984...

If you're talking actual literary value; it depends entirely on perspective of the genre.

To be technical, the first pioneering novels of the genre are relatively unsung; you're looking at novels like H.G. Wells' The First Men on the Moon which literally allowed for the invention of the genre if you look at the framework it presented for how to create dystopian societies. Parry's Scarlet Empire and London's The Iron Heel refined the idea within that decade.

So the basic set-up was created by three novels that practically no one reads these days (pity too, Iron Heel is my personal favorite Jack London book). Kafka's The Trial is really the only other noteworthy work until the first of the big names hits, and that's really just like every other piece of crap Kafka wrote, unfinished and self-indulgent.

Then the first hammer dropped, Aldious Huxley's Brave New World took the genre and polished everything to a shine with a few extra additions. Huxley himself admits in the foreword that there are plot holes and elements missing, but this was really the first breakthrough since the genre's inception. One of my personal favorite darkhorses shows up around this time as Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here which I can only describe as Catch-22 meets totalitarianism. Give it a read sometime.

The 40's belonged to Orwell, with 1984 and Animal Farm hitting within 5 years of each other. Huxley tried to get one last gasp out with Ape and Essence, but let's be honest, that sucked compared to what Orwell did that decade. 1984 is to dystopian fiction as the Lakers are to basketball; it's instant recognition, a pop-culture bred archetype. Animal Farm often gets overshadowed by its successor, when in reality, it turned the genre in a different direction presentation-wise, while 1984 just pulled out all the stops and threw the settings on steroids.

The only two novels that ever seem to be noted after the decade of Orwell are Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. First, Fahrenheit exists only as a gateway drug to the world of dystopian fiction; sorry, but no hardcore fan regards it as much more than a brief synopsis of a vaguely menacing dystopia that gives a slight taste of the malificence that eminates from books like 1984. As for Clockwork...well, I don't consider it dystopian. Is it a broken society, yet. But consider who the technical protagonist is in Alex and consider his habits. Everything about the novel is camped up to the extreme to be almost laughably evil, and the author is more focused on the negative lights of society rather than the fact that it's not shown to be necessarily broken so much as cruel. Is the torture scene relevant to the genre? Of course, but one aspect does not a dystopia make, neither do hooligans, for God's sake we have everything from Star Trek bandits to Jeffrey Dahmer in our world, and we call this a dystopia? Of course Alex and his friends are horrible, but there's thousands of people like that out there; Clockwork really isn't all it advertises.


And now you've basically read a summary of my research paper on dystopian fiction I did last year for English; this is all my opinion from the books i've read, so if i've missed any please let me know. To rank my top 5:

5. The Iron Heel- In my opinion, this was when dystopia started to catch on and finally take a complete and definite shape. Wells and Parry laid the framework, and London just crushed the genre for the time. Considering it took almost 3 decades for the genre to be advanced past this, it has to be worth something. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up as well today as some of the more famous books and tends to lose significance among the shiny lights of genetic engineering and Big Brother.

4. Animal Farm- I personally enjoy this more than its' often daunting big brother (pun intended), but I can't rank it higher just because of the historical perspective. The novel was a way of doing something different while using the standard setting, just putting it in a different context. Orwell's prose isn't as verbose and mind-numbingly repetitive at this point, so I appreciate it more than 1984 personally as a write, but 1984 just slaughtered the feel of the genre despite the verbal diahrea is had (we'll get to that later).

3. It Can't Happen Here- Okay, this one's a homer pick, but whatever. Sinclair Lewis was a writer with cojones; he rejected a pulitzer as compromising to his writing and didn't let anyone tell him what to do; it takes guts to stand up for your writing, and he did. While i'm at it, Lewis' personal spin was to create a satire about the whole situation and portray it for as ridiculous as is really was, which is a welcome detour from the doldrums of the alleged great dystopian novels. Dark horse favorite with absolutely no questions asked in my book.

2. 1984- Popularity does not a winner make. Take a look at the actual length of the book and how much of it is just Orwell's repetition motif played ad nauseum. Call it personal bias, but I actually regard this as a bigger pain than Shakespeare to read just because of how thick and dull the environment is. Orwell's writing is not so much descriptive as haunting. His phrasings are meant to scare rather than define dystopia. Some would argue that the repetition is to create interaction with the dystopia, which works to an extent, but how many times do we need the damn slogan...?

1. Brave New World- End of story, Huxley flat-out polished the genre to a shine that couldn't be matched for over a decade, and he was the first legitimate contribution to the genre since Wells, London, and Parry. Plus, it offered philosophical explanations for the dystopian societies and gave the honest belief that people believed they had hope even when they had abosolutely none. And on top of that, the Savage is the best protagonist in the history of the genre PERIOD. No one else struggled against opression like he did. Sorry Alex, you had it coming, but the Savage showed everyone just what it meant to be human.

Edited by Black Dranzer.exe on April 5, 2010 at 22:29:55.


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Posted on April 6, 2010 at 5:08:14 [Post link]
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Quote:
The only two novels that ever seem to be noted after the decade of Orwell are Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and
Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. First, Fahrenheit exists only as a gateway drug to the world of dystopian fiction; sorry, but no hardcore fan regards it as much more than a brief synopsis of a vaguely menacing dystopia that gives a slight taste of the malificence that eminates from books like 1984. As for Clockwork...well, I don't consider it dystopian. Is it a broken society, yet. But consider who the technical protagonist is in Alex and consider his habits. Everything about the novel is camped up to the extreme to be almost laughably evil, and the author is more focused on the negative lights of society rather than the fact that it's not shown to be necessarily broken so much as cruel. Is the torture scene relevant to the genre? Of course, but one aspect does not a dystopia make, neither do hooligans, for God's sake we have everything from Star Trek bandits to Jeffrey Dahmer in our world, and we call this a dystopia? Of course Alex and his friends are horrible, but there's thousands of people like that out there; Clockwork really isn't all it advertises.


Certainly Clockwork's world seems to have a much higher number of psychopaths than our world. At the very least, they seem to operate much more openly. The world is filled with bars that sell milk laced with various narcotics, gang rape--while certainly a threat in our world--seems to be an omnipresent threat in Clockwork. The government and authorities are all authoritarian brutes, more focused on power and control than actual governing. Why the conditioning process alone! If this world isn't quite a dystopia, it's certainly on the cusp.

Ultimately however, what distinguishes Clockwork from, say 1984 and Animal Farm, is that at it's core, Clockwork really isn't about the society. To me, anyway, it felt that the core theme was about whether it's possible to be a good person if it's forced.

Quote:
4. Animal Farm- I personally enjoy this more than its' often daunting big brother (pun intended), but I can't rank it higher just because of the historical perspective. The novel was a way of doing something different while using the standard setting, just putting it in a different context. Orwell's prose isn't as verbose and mind-numbingly repetitive at this point, so I appreciate it more than 1984 personally as a write, but 1984 just slaughtered the feel of the genre despite the verbal diahrea is had (we'll get to that later).


In the interest of mutual respect, and the truth of subjectivity, I will refrain from attempting to maul you for this statement.

:)

Quote:
2. 1984- Popularity does not a winner make. Take a look at the actual length of the book and how much of it is just Orwell's repetition motif played ad nauseum. Call it personal bias, but I actually regard this as a bigger pain than Shakespeare to read just because of how thick and dull the environment is. Orwell's writing is not so much descriptive as haunting. His phrasings are meant to scare rather than define dystopia. Some would argue that the repetition is to create interaction with the dystopia, which works to an extent, but how many times do we need the damn slogan...?

1. Brave New World- End of story, Huxley flat-out polished the genre to a shine that couldn't be matched for over a decade, and he was the first legitimate contribution to the genre since Wells, London, and Parry. Plus, it offered philosophical explanations for the dystopian societies and gave the honest belief that people believed they had hope even when they had abosolutely none. And on top of that, the Savage is the best protagonist in the history of the genre PERIOD. No one else struggled against opression like he did. Sorry Alex, you had it coming, but the Savage showed everyone just what it meant to be human.

Edited by Black Dranzer.exe on April 5, 2010 at 22:29:55.


It's worth a mention, I think, that these two books demonstrate Dystopias in two entirely different directions. Both of them beautifully depressing.

Also, I don't know what you're smoking but Shakespeare is amazing. Hamlet is one of the most well-crafted works in all of literature. Full-stop.


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Posted on April 6, 2010 at 16:34:05 [Post link]
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mega X.exe

Also, I don't know what you're smoking but Shakespeare is amazing. Hamlet is one of the most well-crafted works in all of literature. Full-stop.


I agree with this, it is far easier to understand than the stodgy works of Dickens, for instance


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Posted on April 7, 2010 at 3:48:17 [Post link]
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mega X.exe

Quote:
The only two novels that ever seem to be noted after the decade of Orwell are Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and
Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. First, Fahrenheit exists only as a gateway drug to the world of dystopian fiction; sorry, but no hardcore fan regards it as much more than a brief synopsis of a vaguely menacing dystopia that gives a slight taste of the malificence that eminates from books like 1984. As for Clockwork...well, I don't consider it dystopian. Is it a broken society, yet. But consider who the technical protagonist is in Alex and consider his habits. Everything about the novel is camped up to the extreme to be almost laughably evil, and the author is more focused on the negative lights of society rather than the fact that it's not shown to be necessarily broken so much as cruel. Is the torture scene relevant to the genre? Of course, but one aspect does not a dystopia make, neither do hooligans, for God's sake we have everything from Star Trek bandits to Jeffrey Dahmer in our world, and we call this a dystopia? Of course Alex and his friends are horrible, but there's thousands of people like that out there; Clockwork really isn't all it advertises.


Certainly Clockwork's world seems to have a much higher number of psychopaths than our world. At the very least, they seem to operate much more openly. The world is filled with bars that sell milk laced with various narcotics, gang rape--while certainly a threat in our world--seems to be an omnipresent threat in Clockwork. The government and authorities are all authoritarian brutes, more focused on power and control than actual governing. Why the conditioning process alone! If this world isn't quite a dystopia, it's certainly on the cusp.

Ultimately however, what distinguishes Clockwork from, say 1984 and Animal Farm, is that at it's core, Clockwork really isn't about the society. To me, anyway, it felt that the core theme was about whether it's possible to be a good person if it's forced.


This is pretty much the point I was trying to make. The world is screwed up, but like you said; it was more about the individual rather than the collective.

Quote:

Quote:
4. Animal Farm- I personally enjoy this more than its' often daunting big brother (pun intended), but I can't rank it higher just because of the historical perspective. The novel was a way of doing something different while using the standard setting, just putting it in a different context. Orwell's prose isn't as verbose and mind-numbingly repetitive at this point, so I appreciate it more than 1984 personally as a write, but 1984 just slaughtered the feel of the genre despite the verbal diahrea it had (we'll get to that later).


In the interest of mutual respect, and the truth of subjectivity, I will refrain from attempting to maul you for this statement.

:)

While I respect that you respect my opinion, I don't really see where my assertion is necessarily wrong. 1984 absolutely grinds all the party's slogans and propaganda into a reader, which conducts the style, but doesn't necessarily mean it's enjoyable.

Quote:

Quote:
2. 1984- Popularity does not a winner make. Take a look at the actual length of the book and how much of it is just Orwell's repetition motif played ad nauseum. Call it personal bias, but I actually regard this as a bigger pain than Shakespeare to read just because of how thick and dull the environment is. Orwell's writing is not so much descriptive as haunting. His phrasings are meant to scare rather than define dystopia. Some would argue that the repetition is to create interaction with the dystopia, which works to an extent, but how many times do we need the damn slogan...?

1. Brave New World- End of story, Huxley flat-out polished the genre to a shine that couldn't be matched for over a decade, and he was the first legitimate contribution to the genre since Wells, London, and Parry. Plus, it offered philosophical explanations for the dystopian societies and gave the honest belief that people believed they had hope even when they had abosolutely none. And on top of that, the Savage is the best protagonist in the history of the genre PERIOD. No one else struggled against opression like he did. Sorry Alex, you had it coming, but the Savage showed everyone just what it meant to be human.

Edited by Black Dranzer.exe on April 5, 2010 at 22:29:55.


It's worth a mention, I think, that these two books demonstrate Dystopias in two entirely different directions. Both of them beautifully depressing.

Also, I don't know what you're smoking but Shakespeare is amazing. Hamlet is one of the most well-crafted works in all of literature. Full-stop.


I never said Shakespeare was by any means a bad writer. I mentioned that alot of his stuff is a pain in the ass to read for how verbose it is, but that's also just how things were at the time. Culturally, his impact is absolutely incomprehensible, but in the modern era of "idk, my bff Jill", phrases such as "Would you like to quarrel?" fall upon ears that don't understand the meaning of the word. It's like when you tell your parents about something in pop culture these days, we'll use that godawful wreck Jersey Shore for example.

"Duuuude, she's totally rocking the Snooki-hair!"

Well, no parent, at least I hope none, would know that Snooki-hair refers to up-do so outrageous it makes Fabio cry himself to sleep. It's the same way with Shakespeare and the lack of cultural understanding of his time and what the context and connotations of the words. We tend to derive that he's like Dickens and couldn't say Hello in under 5 words while in reality, it's the same excuse your parents make every time your grandpa refers to an African-American as "One of Them", specifically, it was a different time then. Hell, I actually bothered to research some of the english trends of the time to understand what the hell is going on when we read Romeo and Juliet, and there's still a good bit I don't understand, but that's just the curse of most who set foot in Shakespeare's domain.


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Posted on April 7, 2010 at 5:11:26 [Post link]
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Quote:
Originally posted by Black Dranzer.exe
This is pretty much the point I was trying to make. The world is screwed up, but like you said; it was more about the individual rather than the collective.


Yeah, I'm... I'm not sure I was actually objecting to anything with that paragraph. I kinda just started talking.

Quote:

While I respect that you respect my opinion, I don't really see where my assertion is necessarily wrong. 1984 absolutely grinds all the party's slogans and propaganda into a reader, which conducts the style, but doesn't necessarily mean it's enjoyable.


Well, your assertion isn't necessarily right or wrong, exactly. I was just stating my disagreement with your opinion. The repetitive and mind-numbing qualities that you considered 'verbal diarrhea' I felt were masterful qualities that evoked a sort of background Ennui, which fit in perfectly with the hopeless nature of Oceania IMO.

Quote:

I never said Shakespeare was by any means a bad writer. I mentioned that alot of his stuff is a pain in the ass to read for how verbose it is, but that's also just how things were at the time. Culturally, his impact is absolutely incomprehensible, but in the modern era of "idk, my bff Jill", phrases such as "Would you like to quarrel?" fall upon ears that don't understand the meaning of the word. It's like when you tell your parents about something in pop culture these days, we'll use that godawful wreck Jersey Shore for example.

"Duuuude, she's totally rocking the Snooki-hair!"

Well, no parent, at least I hope none, would know that Snooki-hair refers to up-do so outrageous it makes Fabio cry himself to sleep. It's the same way with Shakespeare and the lack of cultural understanding of his time and what the context and connotations of the words. We tend to derive that he's like Dickens and couldn't say Hello in under 5 words while in reality, it's the same excuse your parents make every time your grandpa refers to an African-American as "One of Them", specifically, it was a different time then. Hell, I actually bothered to research some of the english trends of the time to understand what the hell is going on when we read Romeo and Juliet, and there's still a good bit I don't understand, but that's just the curse of most who set foot in Shakespeare's domain.


Very true and fair enough. To be perfectly honest I wasn't thinking about diction and language when I made my post. It's an unavoidable barrier given the passage of time, but it would be foolish to deny that it is indeed a large barrier.

I confess, I was thinking about the plot structure of say, Hamlet--which we analyzed in my Playscript Analysis class last quarter. Try analyzing the plot backwards, it really is impressive.

Edited by Mega X.exe on April 6, 2010 at 23:11:39.


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Posted on April 7, 2010 at 19:15:28 [Post link]
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Quote:
Originally posted by Black Dranzer.exe
While I respect that you respect my opinion, I don't really see where my assertion is necessarily wrong. 1984 absolutely grinds all the party's slogans and propaganda into a reader, which conducts the style, but doesn't necessarily mean it's enjoyable.


I thought that was the point. I mean, it's kind of the point of propaganda to be ingrained in the public mentality. All he was doing was asserting this.


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Posted on April 11, 2010 at 20:18:40 [Post link]
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It has nothing to do with Dystopia but American Psycho is pretty cool

I only mention it because it's pretty bleak in its own right


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Posted on April 12, 2010 at 1:08:13 [Post link]
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Originally posted by HollowTorment
It has nothing to do with Dystopia but American Psycho is pretty cool

I only mention it because it's pretty bleak in its own right

That kind of fits more into the Clockwork Orange-type novel than dystopic fiction. That said, Bateman is still one of the most fascinating characters invented within the last two decades. Really, you have to appreciate novels that can be graphic but not lose satirical value. Not to mention the sheer mental aspect of the book.

Come to think of it, that had one of the few film adaptations that actually did the film some justice...just don't watch the spin-off sequel.


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