Dante Among the Machines: Margaret Oliphant’s ‘The Land of Darkness’

A fascinating look at distopian literature. I haven’t read any of the books mentioned here (other than “The Time Machine”).

Interesting Literature

In this week’s Dispatches from the Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle considers a curious dystopian story by Queen Victoria’s favourite novelist

The terms ‘dystopian’ and ‘ecology’ both gained currency in the mid-nineteenth century, although ‘dystopia’ has been traced back even earlier. The Victorian era witnessed the emergence of a new genre of science fiction, dystopian literature, which would produce several classic novels of the twentieth century. Victorian writers used this new genre to fashion responses to the dramatic social and technological changes they were living through, chiefly the discovery of Darwinian evolution and the rise of industrialisation in the period. The changing landscape of Victorian Britain played an important part in how authors of early dystopian works addressed questions about what we now call ‘the environment’: in both Richard Jefferies’ After London (1885) and H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895), the crowded smoggy metropolis of contemporary London…

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