The Nationality of Utopia: H. G. Wells, England, and the World State

1st Edition

Maxim Shadurski

Routledge
Published August 27, 2019
Reference - 212 Pages
ISBN 9780367330491 - CAT# 315849
Series: Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature

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Summary

Since its generic inception in 1516, utopia has produced visions of alterity which renegotiate, subvert, and transcend existing places. Early in the twentieth century, H. G. Wells linked utopia to the World State, whose post-national, post-Westphalian emergence he predicated on English national discourse. This critical study examines how the discursive representations of England’s geography, continuity, and character become foundational to the Wellsian utopia and elicit competing response from Wells’s contemporaries, particularly Robert Hugh Benson and Aldous Huxley, with further ramifications throughout the twentieth century. Contextualized alongside modern theories of nationalism and utopia, as well as read jointly with contemporary projections of England as place, reactions to Wells demonstrate a shift from disavowal to retrieval of England, on the one hand, and from endorsement to rejection of the World State, on the other. Following Huxley’s attempts to salvage the residual traces of English culture from their abuses in the World State, England’s dissolution in the throes of alterity takes increasing precedence over the visions of a post-national world order and dissents from the Wellsian utopia. This trend continues in the work of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, J. G. Ballard, and Julian Barnes, whose future scenarios warn against a world without England. The Nationality of Utopia investigates utopia’s capacity to deconstruct and redeploy national discourse in ways that surpass fear and nostalgia.

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