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

1st Edition

Maxim Shadurski

Routledge
September 5, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 208 Pages
ISBN 9780367330491 - CAT# 315849
Series: Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature

USD$140.00

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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. Whereas Benson overwrites national discourse as an impediment to world unity, Huxley salvages the residual traces of English culture from their abuses in the World State. Contextualized alongside the changing circumstances of modernity, such contrary reactions 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. 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 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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