A Study of the Hollow Earth

Exploring forgotten realms of literature

Warning the Present to Preserve the Past: The Obliteration of History and Identity in Dystopian Literature

swastika-night-katherine-burdekin-cover“The fear of memory reached its height with him, and he gave us the logical and Teutonic remedy, destruction. All history, all psychology, all philosophy, all art except music, […] every book and picture and statue that could remind Germans of old times must be destroyed. A huge gulf was to be made which no one could ever cross again.”[1]

Thus explains the Knight von Hess to the Englishman Alfred in Katherine Burdekin’s Swastika Night. History, and the culture produced in that time, is a threat to the German Empire’s hold on the population; only ignorance and complete government control prevents rebellion. With no reliable history, people are deprived of the impetus to revolt because they do not know that life was ever any different, that the world might be a better place. Without a sense of identity, the characters are lost within the vast control of the state. This is an idea to be found in many dystopic novels besides Burdekin’s, including George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Another type of dystopia is the seeming ‘utopia,’ which exists under a lack of freedom and identity, and while some knowledge of the past is recognized, it is treated with scorn and contempt. Yevgeny Zemyatin’s We and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are examples of this style of uniformed, automaton-inhabited utopia. While dystopia may be more concerned with the present, the authors are offering a hyperbolic representation of the future, warning of things to come if the present situation remains unchanged: “The modern dystopia […] is as much an expression of contemporary fears and anxieties as it is a further refinement of generic conventions.’[2] Because these dystopias take place in the future, their dark, incomplete view of history is meant to represent our present and near future. The intent of this paper is to examine how the authors are warning their readers about the importance of history and identity to the freedom of thought and action. With the exception of Swastika Night (which has a rural setting and high rates of illiteracy to keep the populace ignorant) the other works are set in highly mechanized societies that encourage just about every other form of entertainment than reading, and there is a general shortage of books. Living in the in the turbulent climate of the early Twentieth century (two world wars, multiple revolutions and counter revolutions, social upheaval and unprecedented government power) impressed upon the authors the need to remind readers of what would come if present history was forgotten and too many personal freedoms were surrendered. Within the stories, few characters remember the past and besides the revolutionary protagonists, few in these nightmarish societies have any desire for the products of the past or inclination to reclaiming identity.  These dystopic worlds were the authors’ plea to their contemporaries to preserve history and cultural products, because their loss would leave the future populace subjected to totalitarian control in a world that is worse off, maybe not always materially, but certainly spiritually.

From Utopias to Dystopias

Firstly, it is necessary to understand the impulse behind writing a dystopia. Despite the direness of these dystopian stories, they were meant to serve a purpose, to inspire the reader to improve upon society, as utopias do. Utopias are considered science fiction because they do not often take place on Earth or in the present (some would merely call it pastoral if it did) and have existed free from a reliance on science to bring about its utopian paradise, starting with More’s Utopia. During the twentieth century, science and technology became a tool of the writer to demonstrate ways of improving the world, but in the wake of chemical weapons and new war machines, technical innovation came to be seen as a greater threat to humanity. Writers were worried about the loss of the human soul and common history in the face of science’s advancements paired with the political upheavals and totalitarian governments of the early Twentieth century. Carl Freedman notes, ‘Utopia can never be fixed in the perspective of the present, because it exists, to a considerable degree, in the dimension of futurity: not, however, in the future as the latter is imagined by bourgeois “progress,” but rather as the future is the objective of hope, of our deepest and most radical longings.’[3] If a writer creates a utopian society out of the humanitarian desire for a better world for mankind, then the act of creating a dystopia is inspired by the longing to prevent the world from descending down a perceived path of darkness by inspiring the public to improve their present society.

There are numerous influences for dystopian novels in the first half of the Twentieth century, from the World Wars to the many revolutions that toppled the old, traditional government and social structures. The crimes against humanity, the genocides and fascist governments, were real terrors that imprinted themselves on the common consciousness of readers.

The crushing of self by the system, the denial of individuality, is nowhere more savagely illustrated in our recent history than by the Second World War, especially by the concentration camps, […] We find in these records of historical experience many of the images which recur in post-war SF: the numbered inmates, the uniformed bodies, the suffocating routine, the omnivorous machinery of death.[4]

In the fictional worlds, the populations subjected to dehumanized, totalitarian rule are controlled through their ignorance of these past events. During the rise of Hitler, the world was bombarded with images of bonfires, the burning of books that offended Nazi sensibilities. From Russia came the Five Years Plans, organizing people and production according to numbers that benefited the state, regardless of consequences for the individual. The authors, familiar with historical events and their contemporary societies, are relying on the readers to recognize the parallels in the dystopian worlds (it would be difficult to find any critic who called dystopic fiction ‘subtle’) to remember the horrors of the past – or present – and fight their return.

It is this rebellion against controlling governments (by a single individual or larger group) and the reclamation of lost history and culture that dominates these novels. While authors are warning against the mechanization of society, it is the government’s control over and use of the technology that is the real threat. If the government controls the dissemination of information, then they can shape the past and present however they please. If the government controls you (possibly from your very conception) then it controls the person you may become, shaped as they please. John Clute explains, ‘animosity against specific political programmes was the most important force provoking early dystopian visions,’ which negates the utopians ‘generalized faith in the idea of progress, both social and technological.’[5] The Western world in the early Twentieth century saw the rise of eugenics and the crimes against humanity that ensued. People were reduced to numbers and figures, calculated and ordered like machines. They saw censorship, fascism and collectivization, all of which tried to erase or rewrite history, and those who watched from the outside were horrified.

To attempt to read the great dystopian works as merely predictors of the future lessens the value of the work’s message. As Freedman puts it, ‘the negative utopias of modern literature – We (1921), Brave New World (1932), Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) – are drained of much of their power if we attempt to read them as complexly critical estrangements of certain actual tendencies in Soviet and Anglo-American society, but instead as factual futurology, rating Zamyatin, Huxley, and Orwell as though they were contestants in a guessing game.’[6] The authors of these dystopias were trying desperately to warn against these negative social developments they perceived, and would have been horrified if any of their visions came to pass; it would have been a failure on their part to properly warn the public. It would have meant people had forgotten their history.

Zamyatin and We

Once a leader of post-revolutionary Russia’s writers, Zamyatin – who opposed the push towards total social unanimity – wrote against the grain of the party line, his works were banned and he was exiled from the country. For this, he himself fell victim to his own warnings: ‘Like the rebellious poet of We […] he was literally “liquidated” – reduced to nonbeing. His name was deleted from literary history’.[7] In We, ‘Zamyatin could turn for models of his dystopia to the early experiments in social engineering conducted by the Bolsheviks.’[8] As for metaphorical historical parallels, the Benefactor deity of the story is Lenin, while the Guardians are the USSR’s Cheka[9]. Zamyatin was extremely prescient about the world to come, and only in retrospect can We be truly appreciated for its warning about totalitarian government control. The characters are not given the benefit of names, only numbers; they don’t have families, are raised in groups, and copulation is only granted with pink coupons at an appointed hour. It is almost farcical, the degree to which the government controls society and has erased the uniqueness of individuals, but this was undoubtedly Zamyatin’s goal, meant to parody the Bolshevik’s revolutionary government.

The main character, D-503 tells the story through his journal (‘record’ as its referred to in the translation) which he believes to be his own sort of poetry, meant to praise the One State. There is a contradiction of facts disseminated by the government from a quoted proclamation on page one: ‘One thousand years ago your heroic ancestors subdued the entire terrestrial globe to the power of the One State.’[10] This cannot be the case, though, because outside the city’s green walls is an untamed forest inhabited by free men (considered hairy and atavistic by D-503), who join with rebel ‘numbers’ from the city and revolt against the Benefactor and the entropic order of the One State.

What does this society know of the past? As D-503 puts it, ‘it is clear that the entire history of mankind, insofar as we know it, is the history of transition from nomadic to increasingly settled forms of existence. […] People rushed about from one end of the earth to the other only in prehistoric times, when there were nations, wars, commerce, discoveries of all sorts of Americas.’[11] This is a rather narrow, incomplete history given to the One State’s inhabitants, propaganda meant to support the controlled, static environment in which they live. D-503 mentions their knowledge of the ancient ‘irrational’ Christian religion, and how the sacrifices (executions) carried out on behalf of the Benefactor are ‘a remembrance of the awesome time of trial, of the Two Hundred Years’ War, a grandiose celebration of the victory of all over one, of the sum over the individual.’[12] History has been utilized to justify and rationalize public executions of any dissident (in this case, a heretical poet) – to the point where even the condemned willingly go without the need to be restrained because they have been trained to accept this. The only literature (as it is) which has been passed down to them is “The Railway Guide” for its meticulous organization, influencing the Tables, which schedule out every hour of the numbers’ lives. Individuals have no unscheduled time, cannot deviate from the Tables, and have no say in the running of their government (beyond having to unanimously reelect the Benefactor occasionally). To stop the brewing revolt, the Benefactor orders a surgical procedure for everyone to remove the imagination, just as Zamyatin and his fellow writers were ordered by the Bolshevik government to censor their own imaginative works to benefit the state.

The end of the book seems to be a reflection of Zamyatin’s own hopes for history, that the revolution in Russian was not over yet, and that the forces of the individual would eventually triumph over the collectivism he so detested. We was a warning to his fellows of what Russia may become if the Bolshevik’s remained in power, pushing for a static, least-common-denominator society.

Huxley and Brave New World

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World stands apart from the other dystopias discussed here due to its dry, at times sarcastic, tone. The greatest warning of the book is ‘how far we must sacrifice our individuality in the face of proliferating technology, and how far we should push the quest for pleasure.’[13]Bernard Marx and his contemporaries are swallowed up and stifled by their society, which requires a uniformity of beliefs. But just as importantly, the novel puts forward Huxley’s views of the subjectivity of history, that it is used and abused to influence the masses.

The industrial revolution served to influence Huxley’s view of the potential for a society mechanized down to the individual, most especially the advancements made by Henry Ford in the automobile industry. ‘Ford’ has become a sort of deity to the World State, embracing Ford’s own words: ‘History is bunk,’ as the Controlled Mustapha Mond explained to a class of children;

He waved his hand; and it was as though, with a little feather wisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; […] Whisk – and where was Odysseus and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk – and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom – all were gone.[14]

Mond is the aloof, powerful, all-knowing character, like the Knight Von Hess, who through his position is permitted to indulge in history and forgotten culture: ‘There were those strange rumours of old forbidden books hidden in a safe in the Controller’s study. Bibles, poetry – Ford knew what.’[15] In a society dominated by the pursuit of pleasure, the old stories of war, religion, struggle and strife (no matter their literary value) would serve only to upset the population and social balance, and thus they are banned – ‘pornographic’ as the Controller Mond calls them in his discussion with John.[16] Their entire civilization relies on individuals following in lock step; no innovative ideas, no self-sufficiency or philosophizing.

By controlling the education of every individual through the use of hypnopaedia and Pavlovian conditioning, every person in their class – from Alpha pluses to Epsilons – is conditioned with the same thoughts, denied real independent will. Children are taught to fear books by use of electric shock and loud sirens. Reading old books might give people the wrong ideas, ideas that conflict with the State. The Director notes happily, ‘the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind. […] But these suggestions are our suggestions! […] Suggestions from the State.”[17] Someone with this man’s power may be afforded some free will and thought, but not those lower in social ranking, who must be conditioned to accept the status they were born into (were created for). To break from conventional unity means therapy, a prescription for more soma, or possible exile to an island.

Personal past and identity are also discouraged, and when the Hatchery Director breaks this taboo to tell Bernard about his trip to the savage reservation, Bernard becomes uncomfortable. He knows the Director disapproves of discussion of the ‘remote past […] disapproved and yet had been betrayed into doing the forbidden thing.’[18] Not only is history denied and forgotten as detrimental to society, but even recalling personal history means asserting an individual identity and a real, certain history, a ‘forbidden thing’. There can be no past in a static world.

Huxley’s dystopia was based upon trends he detected during the inter-war period, including the rise of soviet Russia’s collectivization and forced unanimity, as well as Ford’s mechanized processes spreading to other industries. Because the World State ‘rejects everything, including literature, music, art and philosophy […] a state without a past’[19] there is nothing for the people to rally around and rebel against. It is a depressing ending because it offers no hope of change; the discontented are exiled and John the Savage commits suicide, unable to function in this world without history, literature or individuality.

Burdekin and Swastika Night

Katherine Burdekin’s Swastika Night is a frightening dystopia influenced by, and warning against, the Nazi propaganda of the 1930s. The loss of historical truths – and the rebellious nature of reclaiming them – in this world is central to the plot. The Nazis who have taken over the world have completely rewritten the past and eliminated literacy among the masses, because ‘information about the past and present is strictly controlled and manipulated by those in command. History, its knowledge, and memory are therefore dangerous elements that can give the dystopian citizens a potential instrument of resistance.’[20] Burdekin could only guess in 1937 about a coming war with Nazi Germany, but could no more predict its form and outcome any more than a military strategist. Swastika Night is not about alternative history, but an extrapolation of what a world ruled by Nazi party policy would look like.

Because personal identity is part of history, the conquered races have even had the practice of family names removed (Alfred’s ‘surname’ is E.W. 10762) so that there can be no filial memory or unity to encourage rebellion – this has been assisted, of course, by the relegation of women to the status of chattel. Burdekin was projecting from Hitler’s own views, as summarized by an OSS report on Hitler’s psychology: ‘His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.’[21] This ‘big lie’ is what the entire basis of Burdekin’s dystopia becomes; all of history before the supposed Twenty Year war, and much of the century afterwards is completely rewritten, and no one but Von Hess and Alfred know any differently. But a character such as Hermann, so thoroughly a part of the system, cannot accept ‘alternatives’ and is broken down by the history Von Hess reveals. The world seems beyond repair from this Big Lie.

Removing history requires removing its records, and Burdekin was undoubtedly influenced by the Nazi’s massive burning of supposedly degenerate (mostly Jewish and communist) books in May of 1933. The Knight Von Hess wrote his entire book from memory, because all other books were destroyed, and ‘He thought […] the time might come when men would again seek passionately for truth.’[22] Burdekin is making it very clear that for seven hundred years this German Empire has existed because of the propagation of lies and the deletion of history. ‘The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history.[23]’ Burdekin’s Nazi empire has removed the books, the architecture and cultural products of every other civilization under their influence, and without cultural progress, they are ‘dead’.[24]

Orwell and 1984

What is ‘memory’ in 1984? A hole, that leads to an incinerator. There is no memory or history but that which the Party approves of, and is changed on a daily basis to suit Party needs.  Indeed, one of the Party slogans is ‘Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.’[25] The protagonist, Winston Smith, struggles to recall his own history, to find some true history in the world. For this quest, and the actions it leads him to, Winston is captured, tortured and reprogrammed by the Ministry of Love. O’Brien informs Winston, ‘You will be lifted clean out from the stream of history. […] Nothing will remain of you; not a name in a register, not a memory in a living brain. You will be annihilated in the past as well as the future.’[26] The purpose of these measures is to prevent the general populace from being inspired by martyrs to rebel against the controlling powers. As history is rewritten, so are the people, all to conform to Party standards.

Winston Smith’s profession is to rewrite history so that is remains constant with the present. If the current Oceania conflict is with Eurasia, then it has always been so, and vice versa. As O’Brian explains during Winston’s interrogation, ‘Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which makes mistakes […] Whatever the party holds to be truth is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party.’[27] Orwell’s Oceania is derived from the observations he made of totalitarianism in the Spanish Civil War and Stalinist Russia, including the purge trials in the USSR that rewrote history in order to convict old Bolshevik revolutionaries who had fallen out of favour. There are multiple historical parallels being utilized; Trotsky as Goldstien, the gulag as the Thought Police, the Hitler Youth as the Youth League and the Spies, but of course there is no history in Oceania before the party to be brought up.

The erasure of personal history is part of the removal of identity, so that individuals are absorbed into the party fold. Winston struggles to simultaneously remember and forget his own past: ‘He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him whether London had always been like this’[28] – a London that is decrepitly run down from constant war and deprivation. When starting his diary, Winston cannot even be sure if the year is actually 1984, cannot even pinpoint the actual year of his birth. The memory of his family is just as clouded. In this world, children are conditioned to turn in family members who appear disloyal, thought Winston sadly recalls his mother from an ‘ancient time […] when there was still privacy, love and friendship’ and she died for ‘a conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable.’[29] Orwell’s inclusion of this particular language describes the threat to the Party: citizens cannot be loyal to the family and to the government simultaneously, their loyalty must be completely to the Party. So memory of family, a sense of individuality and filial devotion, must be eliminated in favour of obedience to Big Brother.

Of the messages in 1984, Aldiss asks, ‘To whom is its warnings directed? To the voters? If so, then it is an anti-prophetic book, in that the less this fictional world becomes reality – even after the test date – the better Orwell will have succeeded in his purpose.’[30] This novel has perhaps had the most pervasive influence on society, with terms such as ‘doublethink’ and ‘Big Brother’ becoming synonymous with these warnings, keeping readers aware of Orwell’s message. As Fredric Jameson summarizes, ‘the most haunting feature of 1984 is the elegiac sense of the loss of the past, and the uncertainty of memory. The rewriting of political history in Oceania is assimilated to the personal dreams of a lost childhood.’[31] Orwell saw the totalitarian disintegration of states and was warning the reading public to not give in to censorship or rewritten history.

Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451

The last dystopia examined here is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a world where the pursuit of pleasure dominates the population, and the ignorance of history (under the guise of maintaining mental parity) is enforced by burning books. Contemporary issues heavily influenced Bradbury’s novel as ‘The censorship of books which dealt with socialism, eroticism, and sexuality in the early 1950s made the extension of Montag’s actions conceivable.’[32] The memory of Nazi book burning and the rise of television and other technological media impressed upon Bradbury the dangers of people losing themselves in fantasy worlds and willingly giving up knowledge and history.

Firemen themselves have a distorted history, and no books, no records, to correct the perversion of the world ‘fireman.’ The official story is that the firemen were ‘Established, 1790, to burn English-influenced books in the Colonies. First Fireman: Benjamin Franklin.’[33] (This is a doubly significant twisting of facts, as Benjamin Franklin did organize the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia and founded the first public lending library.) There is no recollection of classic literature, philosophy and history beyond the rebellious Montag and Faber and the ‘books’ hidden in the woods, leaving a population of babbling children incapable of thinking beyond their own petty comforts in a world of starving people. Montag lays out the argument for the preservation of knowledge to his wife: ‘Maybe the books can get us half out of the cave. They just might stop us from making the same damn insane mistakes!’[34] In the end, a nuclear explosion has wiped away the decadent city, and Granger laments, ‘We know all the damn silly things we’ve done for a thousand years, and as long as we know that and always have it around where we can see it, some day we’ll stop making the goddam funeral pyres and jumping into the middle of them’[35]– in other words, Bradbury is hoping that the memory of the past (and in his case, present) will prevent further degradation of the world.

Another aspect of the erasure of individuality is the unproductiveness of the population. Mildred only plays with her make-believe ‘family’ on the wall screens, while Montag and the firemen only destroy literature and homes. Among juveniles, breaking windows and wrecking cars is considered a pastime. Education has become anything but, a babysitting service full of television programmes and exhausting physical activities, with no actual learning or critical analysis. Universal leisure dominates this society, precluding the development of the individual soul, and those like Clarisse who try fall victim to the demand for the least common denominator. Granger offers Bradbury’s moral at the end: ‘Everyone must leave something behind when he dies […] A child or a book or a painting […] Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die’.[36] Without a thinking, productive citizenry, without an honest history, this society seems to have no soul, no ability to learn from mistakes and stop the nuclear wars. Bradbury’s warning was directed at an America he perceived to be losing touch with its past and the world, too engrossed in television and movies.

Conclusion

The history being utilized in these dystopias is the present for the authors, their warning about the shape of things to come if the world does not change. Raffaella Baccolini best sums up the importance of history to dystopia: ‘history is central and necessary for the development of resistance and the maintenance of hope, even when it is a dystopian history that is remembered.’[37] Honesty about the past, so as not to forget both the triumphs and mistakes of old, is emphasized, along with personal honesty and identity. In these dystopias, those who see themselves as independent of the state and the static/ declining civilization are the rebels who seek after or possess information about the past. These authors are imploring their readers to keep the past alive, to keep their sense of self alive and to take stock of their present world, to ensure that the dire events being portrayed never come to pass.


[1] Katherine Burdekin, Swastika Night (New York: The Feminist Press, 1985), p. 79.

[2] Robert S. Baker, Brave New World: History, Science and Dystopia (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990), p.46.

[3] Carl Freedman, Critical Theory and Science Fiction (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 2000), p. 64.

[4] Scott Sanders, ‘Characterization in science fiction: Two approaches – 1. The disappearance of character’ in Science Fiction: A Critical Guide, ed. by Patrick Parrinder (London: Longman, 1979), p. 134.

[5] John Clute and Peter Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (London: Orbit, 1999), p.361

[6] Freedman, Critical Theory and Science Fiction, p. 55.

[7] Mirra Ginsburg, ‘Introduction’ in We by Yevgeny Zemyatin (New York: Bantam, 1972), translated by Mirra Ginsburg. p. xx.

[8] Scott Sanders, ‘Characterization in science fiction: Two approaches – 1. The disappearance of character’ in Science Fiction: A Critical Guide, ed. by Patrick Parrinder (London: Longman, 1979), p. 134.

[9] The first police force formed after the October Revolution, the precursor to the KGB, they were the spies and enforcers of the Bolshevik’s doctrine during the turbulent Red Terror and civil war.

[10] Yevgeny Zamyatin, We, p. 1.

[11] Yevgeny Zamyatin, We, p. 11.

[12] Yevgeny Zamyatin, We, p. 46.

[13] Brian Aldiss, Trillion Year Spree (London: Paladin, 1988), p. 229.

[14] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (New York: HarperPerennial, 1989), p. 34.

[15] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, p. 34.

[16] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, p. 237.

[17] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, p. 28.

[18] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, p. 96.

[19] Robert S. Baker, Brave New World: History, Science, and Dystopia, p. 91.

[20] Rafaella Baccolini, ‘”A useful knowledge of the present is rooted in the past”: Memory and Historical Reconciliation in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling’, in Dark Horizons, ed. by Tom Moylan and Rafaella Baccolini (New York and London: Routeldge, 2003). p. 155.

[21] Walter C. Langer. A Psychological Analysis of Adolph Hitler: His Life and Legend. (Washington, DC: Office of Strategic Services), p. 51. <http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/h/hitler-adolf/oss-papers/text/oss-profile-03-02.html&gt;

[22] Katharine Burdekin, Swastika Night, p. 74.

[23] Milan Kundera quoted in “’A Useful knowledge of the present is rooted in the past” by Rafaelle Baccolini, p. 125

[24] Katherine Burdekin, Swastika Night, p. 121.

[25] George Orwell, 1984 (New York: Signet Classic, 1981), p. 204

[26] George Orwell, 1984, p. 210.

[27] George Orwell, 1984, p. 205.

[28] George Orwell, 1984, p. 7.

[29] George Orwell, 1984, p. 28.

[30] Brian Aldiss, The Trillion Year Spree, p. 303

[31] Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (London: Verso, 2007), p. 200

[32] Jack Zipes, ‘Mass Degradation of Humanity and Massive Contradictions in Bradbury’s Vision of America in Fahrenheit 451’ in No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction, ed. by Eric S. Rabkin, et. al. (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983), p. 184.

[33] Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (London: Flamingo, 1993), p. 42.

[34] Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, p. 81.

[35] Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, p. 171.

[36] Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, p. 164.

[37] Rafaella Baccolini, ‘”A useful knowledge of the present is rooted in the past”: Memory and Historical Reconciliation in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling’, in Dark Horizons, ed. by Tom Moylan and Rafaella Baccolini (New York and London: Routeldge, 2003). p. 116.

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3 thoughts on “Warning the Present to Preserve the Past: The Obliteration of History and Identity in Dystopian Literature

  1. You must have named at least half of all my favorite reads and I will definitely check out the one you have as the main title. I am fond of fiction and dystopia setting for characters and different types of identities protagonist are faced with.

    • M.K. Yost on said:

      It’s not very well known, but ‘Swastika Night’ is chilling and brilliant. Copies can be hard to find, and if it is an old copy, it will have ‘Murray Constantine’ listed as the author, because Burdekin’s publishers thought the book would sell better under a man’s name. I hope you enjoy it.

  2. hopefully it wont be too hard to find, possibly thrift books for a cheap price. Thanks

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