During the research process, I managed to come across an article that was published on January 27th by the New York Times. It is called “Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics”. This article should be a good resource for some of my peers who are interested in drawing parallels between real-life and fictional dystopias.
The article begins by talking about the recent Women’s March on Washington, which took place on January 21. Thousands upon thousands of people rallied in Washington to express their feelings about the recent presidential inauguration. According to the article, some of the protestors held up signs that expressed concerns about the United States becoming an actual dystopia. In protest primarily for women’s rights, some of these signs alluded to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
The article argues that an increasing number of US citizens are growing uneasy about the current state of the country, and are turning to dystopian literature in response to find frightening similarities. This is evidenced by the sharp spike in book sales just after the election of Donald Trump. According to the article, books like 1984 by George Orwell and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis gained popularity on several bestsellers’ lists. The author of the article makes use of statistics (logos) to indicate this trend.
For the next few paragraphs, the article incorporates brief snippets from several sources. These sources include reader reviews, interviews with English professors, news hosts, and novelists. By explaining the recent surge in sales and increasing interest in dystopian literature, they add credibility (ethos) to the article’s central argument.
The article also claims that “these [dystopian] stories offer moral clarity at a time when it can be difficult to keep up with… the firehouse of information and disinformation on social media” (Alter). In short, people do not know what to make of the news that is perpetuated by media outlets, and the conflicting news that is being perpetuated by the President himself.
This article could be used to enhance the argument that we are not far away from becoming a dystopia in real life. The fact that books like 1984 are seeing rises in readership is indicative of an eerie trend: that elements of a fictional dystopia have already manifested or are starting to manifest in the United States.
The article is also important to my own research project, since it reaffirms that many elements we see in dystopian literature (stratification based on race, gender, and economic status) are already reflected in society today and might only get worse.
Alter, Alexandra. “Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics”. The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 27 Jan. 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/business/media/dystopian-classics-1984-animal-farm-the-handmaids-tale.html?_r=0.