• 'Who Controls the Past Controls the Future: Who Controls the Present Controls the Past': Nostalgia as a Phenomenon in Dystopian Novels

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    'Who Controls the Past Controls the Future: Who Controls the Present Controls the Past': Nostalgia as a Phenomenon in Dystopian Novels

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Does nostalgia facilitate a critique of the status quo, or is it merely a form of escapism? Reading dystopian fiction through the lens of nostalgia enables one to tackle these questions and also to rethink the relevance of classical dystopian novels which tend to be criticised merely as defeatist and anti-utopian. This paper is divided into two parts; the first provides a theoretical framework of the concept of nostalgia, and the second an analysis of dystopian novels, namely, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) by George Orwell, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood and Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro. The main point of my theoretical standpoint of nostalgia is twofold. First, nostalgia is a mood rather than an attitude, and thus has to be understood as a phenomenon. Secondly, nostalgia should be distinguished from what Jeff Malpas calls mythophilia, which is a form of mythmaking. In consequence, the paper avoids categorising nostalgia either as positive or negative. In the analysis of each dystopian novel, on the other hand, it examines underlying problems regarding phenomena such as nostalgia as a means of resistance and survival and also stresses how nostalgia can easily be conflated with mythophilia, which can often be detected in hegemonic discourses in dystopian fiction. Finally, the paper interrogates what it actually means to be homeless in the modern age.

How to Cite: Nakamura, A . (2016) “'Who Controls the Past Controls the Future: Who Controls the Present Controls the Past': Nostalgia as a Phenomenon in Dystopian Novels”, Dandelion: Postgraduate Arts Journal and Research Network. 7(1). doi: 10.16995/ddl.334

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Published on
13 Jul 2016
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