Dystopic trends that shouldn't be ignored...

Today's news by the BBC that DNA of blameless children is being stored is quite disturbing. Perhaps they also (conveniently for a society that doesn't want to hold itself responsible) have ODD! The way in which this country demonises working-class children is nothing short of shameful and makes me feel as though we have regressed back to the Victorian times - social mobility is apparently back there anyway. It got me thinking about one of my favourite subjects - dystopias. I do believe there would be some dystopic elements to any society, even in what for many would be Utopia. But the dystopic elements of Britain today are overwhelmingly in force. Perhaps this is why there is also an irrefutable dystopic trend in contemporary literature. Apart from my own, A Clockwork Apple which highlights the two-tier education system in this country which has only got worse under New Labour, there is also Sarah Hall's The Carhullan Army, no doubt inspired by Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Dystopic novels are often so popular because of the way in which they employ that favoured Formalist technique of presenting the everyday anew - which also calls into question Georgy Lukacs argument that only realism could be true to leftist principles. That's why the humble novel can be so much more than just a good read, we don't hear too much of it now but practitioners of yore believed in the power of the novel to transform the way in which we view and experience our lives as well and help us to change society. Of course, what often gets (scathingly) held up as the tendentious novels are those which are unashamedly of the left - which also happen to be some of the truly great novels - those by George Orwell, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, and those of today including Cormac McCarthy. In all the talk of commercial fiction and the Richard & Judy list it's often this power of the dystopic, as seeing current societal issues anew, which is totally forgotten about and which is one of the most important aspects of literature.

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