Utopian and dystopian fiction

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Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953), is one of them and deals with the themes of information manipulation, censorship and defiance; the novel shows a future world where ‘books are for burning’; the protagonist Guy Montag, a fireman whose job consists of starting fires, never questions his work or anything until he meets a girl who tells him of a past where people were not afraid and meets a professor who tells him of future where people can think. (Like in many other dystopian works Bradbury's novel deals with the themes of personal freedom and loss of one's own individuality, and presents a society where the ability to read, that is to think for oneself, is seen as a threat to the system).

Another dystopian novel is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954), in it a group of children are evacuated from Britain to escape a nuclear war; after a plane crash, they are stranded on a desert island where - in the attempt of creating the world of adults - and despite living in a 'the state of nature' - they gradually become violent savages. The novel is considered dystopian since the story is set in the future and the author seems to maintain that society shape depend on the ethical structure of the individual and not on any political system, while democracy is constantly challenged by the innate savagery in human nature.

A post-modernist practitioner of the dystopian genre was J.G. Ballard (1930-2009) whose novels: The Wind From Nowhere – 1962, The Atrocity Exhibition (the latter dealing with themes such as the Vietnam war, psychopathology, pornography, mass media power), Crash - to name but a few - show worlds where the power of technology gradually reshape the people’ psychology, while they come to adapt to the new environmental conditions with unexpected, frightening outcome.

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