Niculae Gheran

This chapter focuses on three environments characteristic to negative utopias and the mechanics behind their construction that makes them being perceived as monstrous. Its aim is to show that despite the fact that the works chosen belong to twentieth-century Literature, we can talk about ways in which the nineteenth-century Romantic ethos and ideology influenced the construction of these environments and are ultimately responsible for their being depicted and perceived as monstrous. Michael Lowy and Robert Sayre show in their book Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity the clear ways in which the Romantic ethos perpetuated itself in different forms during the twentieth and twenty-first century. They show how Romantic antipathy for artificial environments and the construction of the city as a negative topology was perpetuated within the next ages in political and spiritual movements, forms of thinking and writing associated with individuals who would not commonly be associated with the Romantic ethos. This happened, for instance, through the preference of vitalism and energy as opposed to stasis, opposition to the disenchantment of the world, despotism and the mechanistic state, and opposition to bourgeois capitalism as well as the Enlightenment. It is the purpose of the present chapter to show that the chosen authors, by their specific critique against modernity, fall into this category and that the environments rendered in their works are constructed as monstrous precisely because they fail to conform to many of the elements that constitute what can be argued as a Romantic form of spatial practice.

Niculae Liviu Gheran

The following chapter deals with the issue of monstrous geographies within the context of literary dystopias, more particularly with the reaction of certain characters to the process of mental and/or physical disintegration and dehumanisation caused by the influence of such spaces. Firstly, at a macroscopic level we have the geography of the outer world, represented by the dystopian city with its strict rules and secondly we have the inner world of individual characters that is constricted by or reacts against pressures from outside. The geography corresponding to dystopian fictional worlds is subjected to a process of fissure from within by the independent action of characters that break apart from the controlled mass in an attempt to assert individual freedom denied by the dominating discourse. Researchers so far discussed the ways in which the natural is marginalised while the artificial is placed at the centre of dystopian fictional worlds. However, the consequence of such repression, the re-emergence of the natural has not yet been assessed. The eruption of suppressed human nature causes brief fissures within the topographical frame of influence. Whether such a ‘spatial/mental revolution’ is succeeded or not is less relevant to the project than acknowledging and examining the ways in which even if only for brief moments the cohesion of monstrous geography is being undermined from within. Sexuality is either thoroughly under control or wildly let loose in dystopias. Relying on examples from the works, I aim to discuss sexuality alongside individual dissidence as one of the main ways in which a transcending of the dehumanising influence of dystopian monstrous geography is achieved.

Niculae Liviu Gheran

The turbulent history of the twentieth century gave rise to one of the most established genres in today’s literature: the dystopian genre. The present paper focuses on the construction of the inhabitants of these symbolic landscapes. Often there is a great anxiety at the heart of dystopian writers was the fact that the world, especially during the first and second part of the twentieth century will evolve in a totalitarian direction. The greatest fear associated with the impact that totalitarian systems may have is the dehumanization of the individual. After all, all totalitarian systems, whether placed on the extreme right or the extreme left of the political spectrum did postulate the creation of ‘a new man’, an individual that would be shaped ideologically and function within the narrow boundaries set by the state. The aim was influencing human behaviour in a certain direction. To this extent totalitarian states went to lengths whose gruesomeness rivalled the depictions of those present in negative utopias. It is interesting to analyse the different creative ways in which authors imagined this process of dehumanization. It may be a medical operation like we have in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, extreme torture like we have in George Orwell’s 1984 or maybe hypnosis like we have in Huxley’s Brave New World (or many others). The present paper concentrates on discussing different processes of ‘monster’ creation in a variety of dystopias, the historical roots of this kind of description as well as on presenting different characteristics of the finite dehumanized ‘monsters’ that result from the above mentioned processes.

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Niculae Liviu Gheran

Abstract:

The turbulent history of the twentieth century gave rise to one of the most established genres in today’s literature: the dystopian novel. The present chapter focuses on the literary construction of the inhabitants of these symbolic landscapes. Often a great anxiety at the heart of dystopian writers was the fact that the world, especially during the first and second part of the twentieth century will evolve in a totalitarian direction. The greatest fear associated with the impact that totalitarian systems may have is the dehumanisation of the individual. After all, all totalitarian systems, whether placed on the extreme right or the extreme left of the political spectrum did postulate the creation of ‘a new man’, an individual that would be shaped ideologically and function within the narrow boundaries set by the totalitarian state. The aim to influence human behaviour in a certain direction. To this extent totalitarian states went to lengths whose gruesomeness rivalled the negative utopias. It is important to analyze the different creative ways in which authors imagined this process of dehumanisation. It may embody a medical operation like in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, extreme torture like we have in George Orwell’s 1984 or maybe hypnosis like we have in Huxley’s Brave New World (or many others). The present chapter concentrates on discussing different processes of ‘monster’ creation in a variety of dystopias, the historical roots of this kind of description as well as on presenting different characteristics of the finite dehumanised ‘monsters’ that result from the above mentioned processes.

Niculae Liviu Gheran and Ken Monteith

Niculae Gheran and Kristin L. Bone

Edited by Niculae Gheran and Kristin L. Bone

Edited by Niculae Liviu Gheran and Ken Monteith