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Utopian Visions and Revisions

Or the Uses of Ideal Worlds

Artur Blaim

The book focuses on different uses of the concepts of utopia, dystopia, and anti-utopia. The author analyses literature, cinema, and rock music, as well as scientific and legal motifs in utopian fiction. He also considers the functions of Jewish characters in early modern utopias and looks at the utopian aspects of scientific claims of literary and cultural theories. Utopian models are also applied to the practice of literature (socialist realism) and current socio-political affairs. Among the texts and films discussed are "Utopia", "New Atlantis", "Gulliver’s Travels", "Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca", "Nineteen Eighty-Four", "A Minor Apocalypse", "Lord of the Flies", and "Even Dwarfs Started Small".

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20. Staging Dystopian Past, Deferring Utopian Future: The Polish Way


20. Staging Dystopian Past, Deferring Utopian Future: The Polish Way

Utopus […] brought the rude and uncivilised inhabitants into such a good government, and to that measure of politeness, that they now far excel all the rest of mankind. Having soon subdued them, he designed to separate them from the continent, and to bring the sea quite round them. […] And his neighbours, who at first laughed at the folly of the undertaking, no sooner saw it brought to perfection than they were struck with admiration and terror. (Thomas More, Utopia)

The above passage from Book II of More’s Utopia introduces three major elements that define the shape of utopian discourse: the figure of the founding father, utopian closure, and dystopia as the state of affairs preceding the institution of the utopian state and still existing outside Utopia. Whilst the motifs of the founding father or utopian closure may assume a variety of forms or even disappear altogether from later utopian discourse, the explicit or implicit representation of dystopia seems to be an indispensable element of any utopian construction, fictional or otherwise.88

Such was the case with the discourse of the so-called “real-socialism” instituted in Eastern and Central Europe. Despite its professed orientation towards the future it was primarily directed at constructing an appropriate image of the past and an appropriate image of “elsewhere” as absolutely indispensable counterparts of its own utopian project. Thus, much of the propaganda effort was aimed at constructing such emotionally charged...

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