When it comes to the question of anti-utopias
, Layh sharply distinguishes them from dystopias.
It is worth noting that the literary utopia had a somewhat longer lifespan in Canada than elsewhere; in Europe and the United States, even as far back as the late nineteenth century, the dystopia was beginning to replace the utopia as the dominant form of imagined future societies in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere (see Kumar, Utopia and Anti-Utopia
, and Walsh).
More than the other sections, the twentieth century could have used some sort of introduction to present and explain the ebb and flow of the utopian current: the role of the Bolshevik Revolution in the decline of utopian writing along with the rise of the anti-utopia
; the link among science fiction, technological optimism, and utopian dreaming in the 1920s and 1930s, which was checked by the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945 and science fiction's turn to more pessimistic visions (under the influence of McCarthyism too); and so on.
From a period of relatively gentle critique or the reversal of the norms, such as Camille Flammarion's interjection of spiritualism into his works of the merveilleux scientifique (scientific marvelous) or the catechistic aspects of Emile Zola's late socialist utopia in Le Travail (1902), the author observes an increasingly violent rupture, coupled with the rise of dystopia and "contre-utopie" (anti-utopia
) in the period following the great upheaval of World War I and further disillusion brought by a Second World War.
This attitude is consistent with Krishan Kumar's important work that points out the interdependence of dystopia (which he calls anti-utopia
) and utopia.
The third chapter, Chris Ferns's "Utopia, Anti-Utopia
, and Science Fiction," may ruffle a few feathers by claiming that the Utopian works often classified as sf in fact constitute another genre that at times intersects sf and at others does not.
Why avoid the initial point that it includes both what would later be called Utopia and anti-Utopia
within its own purview?
There is, for instance, a very fine essay on Disneyfication, on Disney as anti-utopia
, that, in its middle sections at least, deploys figures with a confidence and simplicity that is more powerfully effective than just about anything else in this book.
Our full commitment is rendered difficult because of the various ambiguities, contradictions, and literary devices highlighted by those who interpret Utopia as anti-utopia
or Utopia solely as critique.
This article will examine this question with reference to Gulliver's Travels, arguing that the text is neither a utopia, nor a dystopia, nor even an anti-utopia
(as it has variously been read); rather, it contains images of and interactions with ideas of utopia and dystopia which reflect its engagement with the utopian mode and qualify it as simultaneously utopian and dystopian.
The negative propels the dialectic, but the goal is surely not nihilism or a thoroughly anti-utopia
. Although dialectical future for Hegel is not rendered in quite the traditional positive utopian sense of an actual or present simply in futuristic terms, its historical mode ensures an equally positive result: the negative gives way to a positive teleology.