Are You in a Bad Place?
“Kindness and good nature unite men more effectually and with greater strength than any agreements whatsoever, since thereby the engagements of men’s hearts become stronger than the bond and obligations of words.” (Thomas More, Utopia)
Erewhon (Samuel Butler, 1872) • Looking Backward (Edward Bellamy, 1888) • 1984 (George Orwell, 1949) • Island (Aldous Huxley, 1962)
What do these four books, ranging over a ninety year period, have in common?
They each attempt to analyse and present, in a fictional setting, the most pressing problems of their own time. They are ‘contemporary’, whether that setting is the future, the past, imaginary, or another geographical location. They try to come at the difficulties of science, society and survival from another angle, which may be didactic, polemical, satirical, comic, admonitory, lyrical, or downright frightening.
They are concerned to address the contradictions which arise when men imaginatively create an ideal or possible society, or criticize the one perceived to exist, when they project their desires, aspirations and fears upon a background of their own choosing…