October 04, 2011

Utopias & Distopias

Continuing the series about the creative writing course which I attended a year ago, the next topic is about utopias and distopias.

They are about ideal (utopian) and non-ideal (distopian) societies. Distopias are always warnings. 
Most utopias deal with the meaning of life.
Who makes your decisions in your life?
                                                 /  \
                                       utopias  distopias

Individualistic utopias are, well, a mess, but collectivistic utopias are well-organized and can even overthrow dictatorships.
There are two kinds of utopias; 1) you don't have to work 2) you must work. If it's the former, then it deals with the meaning of life. What would you do with your life (if you didn't have to work)? For example it fits the description of 'heaven' in religions.

I gave an example for utopia from the Bible, but you can also find distopia there. Like Sodoma & Gomorrah.
For some reason we didn't have enough time for distopias, so I have a couple of books here listed and that's all. 1984 and The Brave New World. So let me talk about distopias from my experiences.

Everybody knows about 1984, even if they haven't read it. But not everybody knows it was inspired by a Russian novel, 'We'. It was written by Yevgeny Zamyatin, in 1920. It was published in New York, in several languages, before it could be published in Russian. 1988 was the year when it was finally released legally in the Soviet Union, in Russian.
Orwell was very inspired by this work and he wrote 1984 in 1948. So if you read both novels, that's why you might see some similarities.
I find it curious that while 1984 is world-wide famous, the story which inspired it isn't that well-known. 'We' became one of my favourite novels.

There's one more book I must mention. It's also a favourite; a young adult distopia, The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read it when I was around... 13? It's a bit hard read for a young teenager (I mean, emotionally - it's a bit dark and very serious), nonetheless, I still think it's one of the best books out there.
If you haven't read it already, I recommend you both The Giver and We. You won't be disappointed if you're looking for a good distopian read ;)

We have these topics left: Historical novels (Regency novels), Fairytales and Humor! Maybe I should challenge myself to write these posts in October.
... If I can't (because you know... it's almost that time of the year! Yes, NaNoWriMo!), then I aim to finish this series this year. Knowing that I'm not a frequent post-writer and November with all those preparations is just around the corner, that feels like a more possible goal to accomplish than in October. Nonetheless, I will try :)

What is your favourite utopian and/or distopian novel?

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