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When the Night Has Come: Images of Dystopia and Catastrophe in Recent British Writing

When the Night Has Come: Images of Dystopia and Catastrophe in Recent British Writing When the Night Has Come Images of Dystopia and Catastrophe in Recent British Writing Aleks Sierz When the night has come, and the way is dark. —Ben E. King, “Stand By Me” he strongest images of catastrophe are often dystopian. In the Western imagination, these ideas of extreme collapse and utter immiseration seem T to exercise an irresistible attraction. Near the start of the twentieth century, English Roman Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton understood what was happening. In his 1904 novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, he describes a tendency already common: people, he argues, are childishly willful, “They stoned the false proph- ets, it is said; but they could have stoned true prophets with a greater and juster enjoyment . . . . But the way the prophets of the twentieth century went to work was this. They took something or other that was certainly going on in their time, and then said it would go on more and more until something extraordinar y hap- pened.” That extraordinary thing was often dystopic, or catastrophic. The word dystopia, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary , is “An imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art MIT Press

When the Night Has Come: Images of Dystopia and Catastrophe in Recent British Writing

PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art , Volume 42 (3): 13 – Sep 1, 2020

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
Copyright © MIT Press
ISSN
1520-281X
eISSN
1537-9477
DOI
10.1162/pajj_a_00533
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

When the Night Has Come Images of Dystopia and Catastrophe in Recent British Writing Aleks Sierz When the night has come, and the way is dark. —Ben E. King, “Stand By Me” he strongest images of catastrophe are often dystopian. In the Western imagination, these ideas of extreme collapse and utter immiseration seem T to exercise an irresistible attraction. Near the start of the twentieth century, English Roman Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton understood what was happening. In his 1904 novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, he describes a tendency already common: people, he argues, are childishly willful, “They stoned the false proph- ets, it is said; but they could have stoned true prophets with a greater and juster enjoyment . . . . But the way the prophets of the twentieth century went to work was this. They took something or other that was certainly going on in their time, and then said it would go on more and more until something extraordinar y hap- pened.” That extraordinary thing was often dystopic, or catastrophic. The word dystopia, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary , is “An imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible.”

Journal

PAJ: A Journal of Performance and ArtMIT Press

Published: Sep 1, 2020

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