Literary Speculations: Postmodern Dystopia and the Future of Books
Corrie, Emily P
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This thesis identifies a trend in recent postmodern dystopian fiction for writers to metafictionally dwell on the place of literature in a future context. This trend springs from similar concerns present in the two most influential dystopian novels of the 20th century, Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Yet, unlike Huxley and Orwell, for whom the marginalization of literature is merely one symptom of the hegemonic control oppressing these future societies, the postmodern writers I identify situate the book’s future disappearance at the epicenter of culture’s demise. In Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story (2010), electronic technologies have virtually eradicated print literature and the novel’s protagonist, Lenny, mourns the changes in social interactions he sees this shift in technology bringing about. In Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods (2007), marginalized book-lovers see the devastation humanity continuously wreaks on the environment as a product of culture’s disdain for literature.