Utopia and Dystopia

Just like social protest novels in turn-of-the-century North America, utopian literature is tied to a specific historical context, or so it would appear from countless scholars who have written about the political, social, and economic conditions that seemed to set the stage for the large outpouring of this new genre that followed in the wake of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, published in 1888. Utopian literature in late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century North America provides contemporary readers with both a view of American history through a literary lens and a view of American literature through a historical lens. Both lenses are, of course, skewed in innumerable ways. Perhaps the most prevalent skewing has been many literary historians' belief that the function of utopian...

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