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The weird thing, if you study history and step outside the culture you were raised in, is to realize that Huxley and Orwell were both describing the world they were writing in, not some hypothetical future. 1984 is based on Orwell's experiences writing propaganda for the BBC during WW2; 1984 was intentionally chosen by switching the last two digits of the year it was written, 1948. Brave New World is a Depression-era reaction to the excesses of and hangover from the 1920s. The World State of Brave New World is based on Fordism, the logical result of taking Henry Ford's assembly-line mentality and applying it to a whole society. In many ways the creative class (which didn't really exist in the 1931 of Huxley's day) enjoys significantly more liberties than the populace of Brave New World.

It's also interesting to note that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are also literary reactions to that time period. Note that Saruman turns Isengard evil with "The fires of industry"; orcs cut down the trees and defile large areas of the countryside, while the Nine Rings corrupt men in the name of greed and power. Tolkien's answer to industrialization was to return to small pastoralist villages; Lewis's was to accept the redemption of Christ, in the form of the lion Aslan.






> Tolkien's Lord of the Rings...literary reactions to that time period

It was also a response to WWI. Tolkein's childhood friends were killed and shattered by that war...and why? Because in 1831, Britain agreed to be a guarantor of Belgian neutrality.

So when Gondor calls for aid... when Isildur calls the Men of the White Mountains to war... when Minas Tirith is besieged... what ought elves and men do but honour their allegiance? We now have all seen that war is obscene as cancer, but perhaps to march to death is still more fitting than to forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship.

Otherwise... what was the point?


Tolkein apparently furiously denied allegory - although there are preexisting tropes that predate even his influence (decline of the mythic past Götterdämmerungn Atlantis) is hard to not see. Which I suppose probably owes itself both to decline of youthful myths like "parents and ancestors as infalliable" and the distant mutated memories of the Bronze Age collapse where the greatest empires indeed did fall from lofty heights and take millenia to be reached again.

What I'm pointing to isn't allegory though. Allegory would be if the Rohirrim at Helms Deep represented the Belgians and the elves led by Haldir represented the British Expeditionary Force. They don't.

But stories are still about (among other things) the choices people make, the way we see those choices, and the things we think about our own choices.


He denied allegory with WW2 in the foreword to Lord of the Rings. It's nearly impossible that his own service in WW1 with its industrial warfare had no influence on his writing. Mordor bears a striking resemblance to the trench-infested battlefields of Europe.

Similarly, the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen-Million Merits" is sometimes described as being about some kind of possible future, but I'm pretty damn sure it's just depicting now (or, "now" when it was made a few years ago, anyway) through the lens of a kind of heightened sci-fi allegory.

A lot of good sci-fi is predicting the present. Lilliput was a criticism of religious disputes at the time: how to break eggs.

1984 was basically a sci-fi adaption of Koestler's Darkness at Noon, which was based on the real-life Moscow Trials. Orwell had read (and favourable reviewed) Darkness. He also used a lot of similar details (Rubashov even had a tooth-ache that flared up for dramatic effect much like Winston's varicose vein).



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