Oldest dystopian books?

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Oldest dystopian books?

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1Bcteagirl
Dec 7, 2010, 1:15am

I got some really good suggestions with my last query, so I thought I would make another.

Lately I have been thinking about what some of the oldest dystopian books might be. Especially if they are available in english. Any suggestions?

2SusieBookworm
Dec 7, 2010, 8:14am

Chronological list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dystopian_literature

Some of the ones listed I wouldn't exactly consider dystopias, but it's still a great list. The oldest book mentioned is from 1835, but I don't think it's still published. Most of the 19th-century books still are, though, by places like Wesleyan Univ. Press, Syracuse Univ. Press, and the Bison Frontiers of Imagination Series from Nebraska Univ. Press.

3Nickelini
Dec 7, 2010, 10:36am

The definition of dystopia is not fixed and so of course you will find all sorts of opinions. I took a dystopian lit class at uni and my prof considered the first real dystopian book to be We by Zamyatin, closely followed by Brave New World. Some earlier books that approached dystopia were Herland and Erehwon, and even More's Utopia. If you go ahead and read some of these--or the ones on the list in 2--come back and let us know if you think they fit.

4SusieBookworm
Dec 7, 2010, 12:16pm

Of the ones before 1900, I've read the ones by Wells. When the Sleeper Wakes, which predates We by a few decades, definitely counts as a dystopia. The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster (1909) is definitely a dystopia, too.
Funny, Nickelini: I know Erewhon can be ambiguous on the utopia/dystopia line, but I've always heard of Herland and Utopia as being definitely utopian (again with the varying definitions of dystopia...)

5Bcteagirl
Dec 7, 2010, 12:30pm

Brave New World and We are both on my wishlist right now. I am adding When the Sleeper Wakes and The Machine Stops as they both sound great! Thanks so much for the link, I am going to explore those books as well. :)

6Yells
Dec 8, 2010, 12:13pm

I have a paperback copy of We and can throw that in my care package for you Bcteagirl. Its in decent shape but purchased used.

7Bcteagirl
Dec 8, 2010, 2:38pm

That would be great!! :)

8Yells
Dec 8, 2010, 9:52pm

Consider it added :)

9nohrt4me2
Dec 13, 2010, 9:28am

Anthem by Ayn Rand is an early one, and the first one I could find written by a woman.

10SusieBookworm
Dec 13, 2010, 12:32pm

The Republic of the Future is by a woman, Anna Bowman Dodd. It was published in 1887. The only other female dystopian writer before Rand that I can find is Katharine Burdekin. I believe three of her science fiction novels are published by the Feminist Press at CUNY.

11Bcteagirl
Dec 13, 2010, 7:09pm

Thanks to both of you! I will look into those :)

12lquilter
Dec 13, 2010, 7:56pm

Another early 20th century dystopia by a woman is Kallocain by Karin Boye; it's available in an English translation.

13LamSon
Jan 7, 2011, 9:07pm

For old dystopian/post-apocalyptic check out www.manybooks.net
I have found: The Last Man by Mary Shelley and Last Men in London by Olaf Stapledon...

14Bcteagirl
Jan 7, 2011, 9:13pm

Wonderful thank you so much LamSon!

I also found a few for free on Gutenberg here:
http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

15Bcteagirl
Jan 7, 2011, 9:27pm

To be more specific, books I was able to find on Gutenberg so far:
I Robot Anthem The First Men in the Moon When the Sleeper Wakes and War of the Worlds. Quite a lot of H.G. Wells

16LamSon
Feb 22, 2011, 1:50pm

I have been reading David Karp's novel One. So far I would have to give it at least four stars. It came out in 1953.

It is similar to 1984, but more subtle, which makes it more unnerving. The main character is a correspondent for the Department of Internal Examination. He has been trained to read lips which aids him in reporting heresies to the Department. Eventually he comes under the scrutiny of the Department...

17LamSon
Feb 28, 2011, 4:26pm

I finished the book referred to in # 16. I would give it at least four stars. Although the book is mostly dialogue, it is very creepy. If you have ever dealt with a government agency where Up is Down, this book will have a ring of truth.