Utopia and Its Discontents traces literary representations of ideal communities from Plato to the 21st century. Each chapter offers close readings of key utopian and anti-utopian texts to demonstrate how they construct, challenge and explore the ideas and forms of earlier utopian writings and the social and political ideals of their own periods. In this original and insightful study, Sebastian Mitchell demonstrates how literary utopias are often as much about the past as they are about the present and the future. Utopia and Its Discontents concludes by arguing against the idea that the utopian has been eclipsed by the dystopian in contemporary culture.
Topics covered include:
– Early political and philosophical authors, such as Plato and Thomas More
– Literary works, from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
– Speculative-fiction writers such as H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley and Margaret Atwood
– Ecological and feminist texts by Ernest Callenbach, Ursula Le Guin and Marge Piercy
– Twenty-first century utopianism
This is an essential study for scholars and students of utopian literature.