Dejan Ajdačić

Public and Secret in the Topography of Slavic Dystopias

Public and Secret in the Topography of Slavic Dystopias

Dejan Ajdachich

In the 20th century all Slavic peoples spent long periods living; in party states governed by twisted ideologies of welfare and equality, in which communist officials limited the freedoms of individuals and the critical thought itself, applying violence and repression. Literary representations of totalitarian rule, both by Slavic and non-Slavic authors, above all Huxley and Orwell, were prohibited in socialist countries, because they were seen as the reflection of the authorities themselves. Authors of unwritten dystopias, even parody utopias or satirical utopias, were aware in advance that their own works, and for that matter they themselves, would be exposed to ill-fated destiny. Russian authors of literary dystopias had only two radical ways for avoiding dangers of persecution and suffering - Vassiliy Axionov(The Crimea Island), Vladimir Voinovich (Moscow 2042), Anatoliy Gladilin (FSSR), Zinovyev (Gaping Heights) defected to the West, while distant and unclear allusions were made in science fiction novels by the Strugazki brothers, and Lem. Serbian author Borisav Pekich served sentence in prisons of socialist Yugoslavia. He introduced a part of his own life experience into the dystopian presentations of his novels Rabies, Atlantis, New Jerusalem, 1999. Ex- party official and later dissident Dobrica Cosic, wrote an allegorical novel entitled Fairy Tale, consisting of two dystopian segments, while Svetislav Basara wrote his dystopian works during the 90’s, at the time when ideological limitations were almost completely erased.

This paper will focus its attention on the presentations of space in the dystopias of Slavic authors, on the manner in which that space is arranged and on the relationships between ideological needs and the fictional space. Contrary to the case in societies free from total control, in which the spaces of public and secret life are relatively separated, in dystopian communities there is the predominance of the public, but also an ambiguity of public/secret opposition.

The authorities limit the possible subversive effect of individual activities by transforming private, inaccessible to others, parts of life, into public activities. This transformation annuls the exclusiveness and secretiveness of personal space. However, opposition of the secret and the public is very unstable in dystopian presentations. Within the game of appearances and illusions, apparent public care for security encompasses covert and secret ways of control and coercion. That which heroes of a narrative reality consider secret, can be uncovered as known, because the societies of total control support only an appearance that there is secrecy and the space of freedom.

Literary dystopias as fictional worlds based on the idea of total control of life, are most often represented as spaces of complete worlds, as densely populated cities. Space outside the city is symbolically represented as another and different world. The significance of repressed personal freedoms is seen in the city structure, its open and prohibited zones.

Attitude toward space in dystopian worlds is defined by rules: licenses, prohibitions, recommendations on the usage of the spaces for pleasure, etc.

The Public

The spatial embodiment of governing ideas in dystopias is reflected in the existence of privileged spaces on the town map, as well as the objects therein. These spaces, compared to the holy sites and temples of religious societies, have an apparently similar function of gathering together the community members around the embodiment of ultimate values, although the metaphysical relationship with nature or with God is replaced by a pseudometaphysical relation toward the authorities. The appearance and the function of spaces or buildings in town in dystopian works, shows and mirrors the predominance of the rulers and the values imposed by them over the repressed opportunities of simple citizens. Although dystopian spaces are governed by rules of a fictional future, they rely on one side on the archetypal presentations, and on the other, on mythically enstranged spaces of real towns. Instead of shrines dedicated to deities or spirits, pompous rituals in dystopias are performed in town-squares, where loyalty to the leader and hatred of the adversary are expressed. Town-squares in which mass rituals of loyalty and togetherness are taking place are spacious and diminish the significance of an individual several times over, supporting his feeling of being glued to the crowd.

By translating spiritual phenomena into physical-material objects and procedures, a clear and easily acceptable language of object-symbols is created. While one can hold discussions relating to ideas and ideologies, the ideas embodied in monuments, town-squares, castles for mass gatherings, are either accepted or rejected as symbols of the already established power. Rejection of their simple symbolic is dangerous because it undermines the foundations of ideology and imposed ideals. Thus arranged space represents one of the effective strategies of gathering and controlling of masses and a preoccupation of the societies of high degree of control and rule over individuals. Special architecture and organization of space, existence of underlined borders between the worlds, hierarchization of space, they all reflect concrete ideas regarding governing of people in fictional dystopias.

Hero’s narrative is accompanied by his evaluation of the world described. Narration of the character unquestioning the values of the society in which he lives, together with data regarding certain actions, festivities, chambers, praises the given order and condemns as unable to understand and irrational a former disorder in society. Citizens of the apparently best social order express their loyalty for the authorities in ritual festivities. Zamyatin’s march of the Unique State, the solemn liturgy for the Unique State, the day of unison - the annual unison election of the Benefactor, represent the affirmations of collective happiness (by re-forming Wells’s utopia). The town-square in which the liturgy for the Unique State is taking place is geometrical and numerically described: The Square. Sixty six powerful concentric circles: platforms. And sixty six rows: quiet faces, eyes reflecting the shine of the sky - or perhaps, the shine of the Unique State. In Zamyatin’s novel the line of the Unique State is a straight line. Straight boulevards represent order, regularity, possibility to survey, predictability. Marches are arranged - four in a line. Praises are frequently given to Euclidean space in the novel. Town projections are straight, thus rendering the urban space surveyable: At the end of the boulevard, on the accumulator tower. The principle of order is contained in clear, straight and strict lines of geometric streets and squares, and is also found in music conceived on strict mathematical formulas.

We love ... sterile, immaculate sky. On such days the entire world is molded out from the same unmoving permanent glass as the green wall, as all our constructions. On such days you see the bluest depths of unfreedom. Speaking in the first person singular, the hero praises the system in which he lives, justifying it. The symbolic of steps is especially emphasized by the enstrangement of their appearance using special materials (glass steps, the Bronze steps of the march). Auditoria. Enormous fully by sun enlightened semisphere of glass massifs. Even collective gatherings are held in bright, regular objects that are transparent. The idea of nonexistence of the secret in the life of society is expressed by architectural characteristics as well. Glass is the material which in the futuristic world of Zamyatin’s novel expresses overall visibility and evidence of life of all individuals. Although it borders and protects, it does not prevent communication between the external and the internal world. That exposure, publicity, is followed with praise: We always live in the open, eternally washed by light. We have nowhere to hide from each other. The transparency of glass guarantees that there are no secret meetings and actions, it prevents dangerous intentions, because it makes everything visible and accessible. Through a series of transparent walls one can see what is being done in the most distant of apartments. Hero D-503 calls the Unique State the Golden Eden, and in another situation he calls apartments in which they live - glass cages. Absence of dark corners embodies the idea of omnicontrol.

The nearer the inner time of the story to the present, the greater introduction into the narrative of reality, recognizable political relations between states and existing social relations. In pseudohistoric presentations of events placed into near future (Voinovich, Gladilin, Pekich), or which even change history as we all know it, as in the novel The CrimeaIsland by Axionov, there is not much deviation from everyday world in the presentation of space. Soviet architecture of Stalin’s period is greatly pompous, ignoble. Grandiose external space suffocates the individual, embedding in him the feeling of smallness and insignificance. Names of streets, squares, and buildings, mark the most recent history of idols and leaders of totalitarian ideology. Sculptures which represent the ideologues and leaders of the communist revolution are placed in central and largest city squares.

In Voinovich’s particularly satirical novel Moscow 2042, Moskorep represents Moscow at the time of the summit and the collapse of communism. Its dystopia is connected with concrete places - names of which are nonetheless changed. The author is playing with the recognition of changes in expression and names of streets, buildings and monuments, re-emphasizing the recognizable features of Soviet architecture and the ways of arranging space. Since the hero is coming to the capitol which he knew once before, and which had retained recognizable sites, he notices changes in the city resulting from the needs of totalitarian authorities. The simplest changes are those of names of streets testifying to the enormous personality cult and to the conviction that history exists solely from the moment of inauguration of the last ruler. Sometimes author-hero gives both the old and the new name: The Street of Genialissimus’s Successful Thoughts (Pushkin’s Street), The Square of Genialissimus’s Literary Talents (Pushkin’s Square) Lenin’s Mountains, Boulevard of the Fourth Volume (former Kalinin). Funny names like the Street of Genialissimus’s Aphorisms, etc. Moscow is full of monuments dedicated to the leader. The readers are introduced to them through the military rigid questioning of children in front of a monument. Instead of the monument to Yurii Dolgorukov, there stands the Genialissimus’s monument with a book and a sword. The landmarks of the Red Square have been sold, including Lenin’s Mausoleum, by which the author adds to the image of general poverty, and also of speedy going out of fashion of ideological predecessors. In Voinovich’s Moscow 2042, Genialisssimus’s victories are ritualistically celebrated. Lanin’s and Latinin’s works on Russian dystopias underline particularly the ritualistic character of representations.

In Zinovyev’s book Gaping Heights (1976), in which talks, discussions, theories, dispatches, treatises, court documents predominate, no particular attention is given to the description of space. Only in the introductory localization of the site of action, in a short chapter Time andPlace, some attention is given to the description of place Ibanska. There is talk about the construction of school, Brain Washing Lab, new churches which for tourists represent the antiquities from the 10th century, a blocked river which flooded a potato field making a lake. Together with the description of the place the identicity of houses is praised - since differences generate natural imbalance. Somewhat later, construction of the school building and the Monument to the Leader are discussed. The Monument to the Leader in front of the IMAPS (Ibanska Military Aviation Pilot School) has started to go askew due to bad foundations.

In Cosic’s Fairy Tale the leader is celebrating by conducting a competition in happiness which is taking place on Future Day.

The police state of dictator Paduk somewhere in Europe between the Slavs and the Germans was represented by Vladimir Nabokov in his first novel written in English language Bend Sinister. The grotesque picture of celebration is rendered by Nabokov in the scene of a village rally, stuttering propaganda of equilistic ideas of overall balance. The image of a provincial god-forsaken place was given realistically, so that crude power is even more expressly seen. The respected and persecuted professor sees not only the adorned town-hall, but also a fully armed soldier.

The fourth and the final story from the cycle New Jerusalem by Serbian story-teller Borisav Pekich takes place in distant future, at the end of the third millennium. An American archeologist is excavating Stalin’s camps, but in his interpretations the remains of these torture sites become the places of the fullest realization of human justice and harmony. In his reconstruction, he praises the simplicity and the moral value of relations among the people of that time.

Symbolic messages of special arrangements of public places are aimed at stressing power by geometrization in painting static space, and in dynamic descriptions of public festivals. Undesired deviation from such demonstrations of order makes the exhibition of power ambiguous, and uncovers both the fears of authorities and the rebellion on the part of dissatisfied ones.

The Shameful Transformed into the Public

Constriction of personal needs and space in which these needs are fulfilled, also implies organization of space in literary dystopias. Not only that space of the personal, intimate and secretive is systematically watched, but the publicity and collectivization of those needs are formalized through registering, filling in forms, respect of time/space rules. There is no loneliness, no unrestrained love, even secretion is under control.

Mistrust, fear of enemies and spies, make any space potentially dangerous. In dystopias the entire city represents the place in which man can be spied upon or is spying himself. Narrators are most often in the position of victims discovering that even their personal, for the State and the authorities unimportant moments, are significant if the society is based on imposition of complete control. The measure of ultimate control is reflected by the desire of the rulers to control even the spaces deemed for the fulfillment of physiological needs. Degradation is indispensable in order to show the power of controllers to make actions otherwise private, a matter of public scrutiny. Annihilation of shame is indispensable in camps and prisons for ideological adversaries (Pekich, Years that Grasshoppers Ate, Solzenitzin in his novel A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Shalamov in Kolima, Acin in essays and studies).

In works of fiction the motif of degradation by way of public defecation is to be found in a number of examples. In Zinovyev’s novel Gaping Heights, in the fictitious town of Ibansk, a gorgeous building of IMAPS is being built without rest-rooms - architects have forgotten to plan sortirs, sticking to an erroneous theory of the local philosopher Ibanov, that these would become obsolete already in the first phase. That is why they are correcting the mistake by building a sortir of lavatory type in the back of the yard, with the regulated time-frame three times per person per ten minutes daily, but they soon start using a place much nearer, intended for garbage.

In Vladimir Voinovich’s Moscow 2042, a significant part of vital needs is based on the exchange of the primary and the secondary. The ideology of Genialissimus’s Moscow is embedded in citizens’ habits, unable to attain food and hygienic accessories unless they turn over their excrement. Their becoming subject to the rules of exchange in which an important role is played by coupons, offers the author the opportunity to ridicule burocratization of the society he is describing. Social stratification of the community is seen in various obligatory actions connected with the refuse matter. Excrement is valuable material which must be turned over by the unprivileged citizens in order to get food and other services. Before entering the Chamber of Vital Needs, Kaprikot in brief, the hero must fill in a form entering his surname, star-name, year and place of birth and the object of his visit to kaprikot: following the instructions of Iskrina Romanova I wrote: ‘delivery of secondary products’. The word used for lavatory contains a pseudosacral idea - Chamber for Performing Ritualistic Needs.

One perceives that the direction of collectivist development of the human society necessarily finds its outcome in totalitarianism, in which torture of disobedient ones and violence in general, will find themselves upon the throne as supreme values. In Pekich’s story Lights of New Jerusalem, an archeologist interprets the camp roll-call as a kind of Areopagus - the symbol of the utmost democratic institution, the highest expression of democracy, while the metal cylindrical object ‘parasha’, in fact a bucket used for excretion, which reduced the discharge of bowels to a humiliating public act, and made the accompanying odour an imposing evidence of non-adherence to the accepted rules of hygiene in the civilized world, is interpreted as an object which most probably, served to express both the absolute harmony of the community and the harmony of cosmos - as house gods.

The author cynically ridicules pseudocritical science which could be seduced in its alleged objectivity to justify and elevate for centuries condemned, even if only declaratively, annihilation of the individual. He gave up the possibility that narrator is describing events in a world contemporary to his own, he denied the description of psychological clarification of manipulation, loss of self-respect, terror, testing of human limits of suffering, but he got back in return an opportunity to show the illusion of scientists and of rational superficial knowledge in conjunction with the desire for fitting in the group and for the totalitarian lie of today. Instead of transforming a utopia into a dystopia (Wells-Zamyatin), Pekich transforms dystopia into utopia, or better said, he transforms history as dystopia into a representation of history as the best possible world. Three temporal planes - end of the third millennium, end and mid- 20th century are intertwined as a utopistic, critically historic and dystopian time.

The Apparently Secret Spaces of Love

Desire to control even the ultimately personal relations among people enters into the sphere of love as well. One is acquainted with the example of the Saratov anarchists’ decree regarding nationalization of women. Although it was a pure invention of a tea-shop keeper who paid for his mystification with his own life, this decree regulating the manner of inventory and general usage of women, who were named as “general goods”, was seriously understood and applied in some parts of the Soviet Union.

In 1924, professor A. Zalkind in a book entitled Revolution and Youth, proposed twelve commandments for proletariat’s sexual life. These recommendations were written after Zamyatin’s novel, but the moralist professor was not in the position to know them. In his book Russian Literary Dystopia, Lanin writes about the erotic character of dystopias: personal, private life is often seen as almost the only way to express one’s ego ... flesh becomes the promoter of the spiritual, constantly struggling with the sublime, trying to wake it up from a dream.

The controlled repression of freedom, followed with the constant threat of punishment for breaking rules, is also realized through the deprivation of free disposition of time, reduction of personal space or its transformation into a space transparent for all, as in Zamyatin’s novel We. Subjugation to the order of non-individualized life is reflected in the reduction of people to numbers, codes, categories. All relations are subject to repressive control, even those of lovers. Free love and sexual life in Zamyatin’s work are limited by way of a time-table divided into personal hours with permission that intimate relations with partner, with pink coupons, can be hidden by drawing blinds in otherwise transparent and visible to all geometrical rooms. Mechanization of passion has certain effect, because a love triangle seems to the hero as safe haven, but nonetheless, individualized passion takes over and expectations or avoidance of the given time change the subjective experience of the same space.

In futuristic and science fiction visions which penetrate more deeply into the future, space itself, its structure and functions are subjugated to the needs of radical control to a greater extent. In dystopias nearer to the present, more significant attention is devoted to the technology of denunciation, and less to technical devices and cameras. Understandable so, since they transmit personal experience of permanent control and persecution as a latent characteristic of the people ready to denounce, intimate feelings included. The ambiguous status of sexual services in the societies of comprehensive control stems out from the social status of women. Depersonalization of love in Vladimir Voinovich’s Moscow 2042 emanates both from poverty and from ideological needs of Genialissimus’s society - in providing trivia or fulfilling state-intelligence assignments. Painting the picture of poverty in Moskorep, Voinovich presents writer Karcev as being surprised to see an arrow and the following text in a wash room: Fulfillment of sexual needs around the corner, in order to understand later that women were giving themselves for a jar of soap. Upon entering a whorehouse, the hero is given a form to be filled in, only to find out that there also exists a hierarchy of needs. On the right from the gates of the Love Castle it says: State Experimental Whorehouse N.K.Krupska, Bearer of the Order of Lenin. Connecting high orders and communist leaders with indecent profession creates a grotesque connection with the ironic ridicule of high officials. Genialissimus’s pictures are hanging on the walls of rooms together with taxative instructions regarding the duties of visitors.

Different depersonalization of love is justified in the same work under scientific pretext. In the Institute for the Creation of New Man, a visitor is drawn attention to a small window. Through it he sees naked couples in sexual intercourse, around whom specialists are taking data, writing, measuring, making suggestions. He is astounded, but they explain that what he sees is the ideologically and scientifically founded hybridization of people which will lead to the creation of the communist man. Lack of intimacy in the spectacle that he witnesses, reminds him of a peep-show in capitalist countries. By expressing the reaction of researchers interested in using such entertainment in workers’ rest houses, Voinovich points out that kinship of totalitarian regimes in manipulating people is much greater than the ideological differences of two opposed systems.

Love and spaces of love wrenched out from the public sphere in science fiction dystopias enable authors to express personal feelings and struggle for them as a road to liberation, but also as a possibility of additional pressure. In historic dystopias, closer to us, psychological abuse of personal feelings not penetrating into technological progress and visions of changed space is expressed rather than that penetrating the psychology of hero and the absurd exchanges of the personal and the public.

Another (Free) World

In addition to the illusion that state is governed by the best possible administration, the illusion of conspiracy and the illusion of free world constitute ways of spying on rebels and their destruction in dystopias. The illusion that there exists a free world is supported by the hope that there is a space governed by different values. In my text Illusions in the world of dystopias, I showed on the examples of Anglo-American and Slavic novels types of two-faceted expression, deception and seduction in fictional dystopian societies.

In Zamyatin’s work We, one sees as the world of the Other, the world of “naked” people behind a green wall remaining after the two centuries long war, there is also an antique house in which there are objects dating from times long ago. In the house, watched over by a wrinkled old woman there is a piano, colourful designs seeming chaotic to the visitor and leading him to speculate on the banality of originality. As a space of the other and different world, there are also dreams. In them the irrational logic of dreaming is subversively intermingled with the already seen details from the old house, as a statue of Buddha. The hero praises or condemns the recognizable order and wanders over the old and unrational system. Similar to Zamyatin’s descriptions, in Orwell’s 1984 there are parts of town with prolims (proletarians) and an inn, antique shop, nature. Orwell adds to the vision of the other and different world by transforming into illusion a free and uncontrolled world which like set traps lures possible saboteurs of the order, using microphones and tele-screens for recording renegades and dissatisfied ones.

Among Moscow jazz players, who in Vassiliy Axionov’s novel apparently slip under control, there are denouncers who inform the authorities about the events taking place within the circle of musicians. Here also freedom becomes only a bait for the people wishing to be freed.

In Vladimir Voinovich’s novel, writer is being taken through the building in which other writers are working. The Bezpaplita computer, in which the texts of writers of paperless literature are allegedly memorized, is in fact a completely bare room, and the writers that create works are in fact typing over the key boards leaving no trace whatsoever which could cause chain rebellion. The rulers passivize the discontented ones who remain confident that their ideas are preserved, and empty out their undesirable thoughts in vain.

In rendering the horrible present of the country of Etruscia, in fact Serbia, a state ruled by anarchy, arrogance, crime and police in Svetislav Basara’s novel Haunted Country, elements of the blackest satire in critical fictionalization of political reality, include also a group of president’s opponents gathering in a Tabernacle cafй. Not even in the confessions of Kinkaid, English diplomat, president’s opponents are offered any possibility to give the irreal country an appearance of reality. The coffee shop is filled with books written by no one, with authors that have written not a single book, with persons not existing and yet constantly imposing by loud dress and behaviour of real people unable to be found ... they were all fake persons, as in novels and they all carried upon their shoulders invisible, yet heavy burdens of their biographies. In the course of the novel within novel, the full inability of regime’s opponents is reaffirmed.

A group of rebels is confined within reduced space in which they hide or intend to hide their rebellion. Although narrow, that space, as space of freedom, has the importance of symbolic expansion of one’s opportunities and powers. The old room, the antique shop in Orwell’s novel, represent a place of collusive activities or flight into utterly personal preoccupations, secrecy often being only false.

Places for the Privileged

Instead of hardly accessible spaces of demons and natural forces, or forbidden spaces for people in power, there are inaccessible palaces and quarters in dystopian cities. Privileged position of individuals or groups of citizens is understood, but is not always rendered in detailed descriptions. In Zamyatin’s novel, benefactors are shifted to the second plane. It is indeed the plane of great power, but they themselves and the space in which they live, are not described. Description of tidiness, cleanliness, wealth, namely decay, accessibility of certain spaces, is most evident in Voinovich’s novel, in which characteristics of a city from Soviet socialist period are radicalized and brought to extremes.

The unfairness of dystopian societies is seen in the hierarchy of deprivation or rewarding of individuals. The ruling people have the right to fulfill their increased needs in Voinovich’s novel. Beside different standards, privileged members of authorities and control have the right to inaccessible spaces - forbidden parts of Lenin’s library, research institutes, literary factories, leaders’ reception rooms, etc. The spatial personalization of social stratification in Voinovich’s novel is given also by dividing the city into zones - the first and the second circle of hatred coincide with the rings of the present city, but a new meaning has been introduced into the structure. As one gets further away from the center of Moscow, one meets with ever fewer privileges, so that the citizens in the third circle, those that have no privileges at all, are struggling hard to survive and are allowed to raise animals. Outside the city, people live in poverty and permanent clashes.

Places for the Doubtful and the rejected

Prisons, camps, torture houses, aim at abolishing individuality, secrecy even for hidden thoughts. Destruction of the feeling that any space is personal and private, is intended to provoke disgust and passivity, yielding to senselessness and loss of any personal ground. These spaces are in a complex way both secret and public at the same time. Investigators and the investigates ones, torturers and the tortured, are well aware that they are in a hidden space, space outside which it is not talked about. There is no talk about the ways of behaviour, or of its tenants, but it is a space whose meaning is the talk about even the deepest secrets. They represent places made for turning secrets into public knowledge. Tension between the secret and the public becomes the most evident in torture chambers, regardless of their isolation. Evidence and procedure of rebelled individuals uncovers the absence of secrecy in the spaces in which they exist.

In his novel Zamyatin mentions the Surgery, a department of the security force in which the disobedient are subjected to investigation and reformation by being exposed to gases under a glass bell. The hero writing these notes sees the connection with the Inquisition, but points out cleanliness and tidiness as virtues in comparison to the one-time procedures.

Dystopias penetrating much further into the future do not change greatly family relations and do not separate children from parents. In addition to men/women relations, the reality of camp societies and the fiction of dystopian communities express also the utilization of love and friendship, of the innermost feelings, in order to make prisoners talk. Dictator Paduk in Nabokov’s Bend Sinister uses father’s love for his son. Wishing to make world-wide respected professor support his criminal rule, the police abduct his son and give him to the children who finally kill him. Although in the introduction to his novel Vladimir Nabokov denied to a certain extent the connection of his work with Orwell’s clichйs, he paints violence in a “grotesque police state” in fragmentary, but nonetheless sickening scenes of dismemberment of the boy and torture of hostages begging their mad friend to save them. The presentation of space in Nabokov’s novel does not differ from reality in a provincial town somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Hero coming into the future from the past wanders over a freak new order representing the development of a socialist society known to him. Comparison to known habits, surprise over wrong or apparently unreasonable things, is a frequently used model.

Dystopias are historic, they reflect changes, introduce new ways of manipulation and subjugation, resulting in new themes and motives in this type of literature. Serbian author Basara, in his essays Virtual Caballa, writes against global subjugation of people to computer networks which produce, instead of thoughts, only information. Opposite to the force of people in uniforms, electronic civilization attracts and imprisons people by dragging them away from dedication to reality and other people. Interpreting the collapse of the Soviet empire, he perceives as defeat attempts to rule over an enormous space, prophesying a similar destiny for computer civilization of redundant information. In his novel Atlantis, Pekich presents history of human societies and the fall of a part of the world that will take place in 1999 as a revenge by true people, descendants of the citizens of Atlantis, against the robot-people.

Presentations of space elements in literary dystopias emanate from the model of total control and coercion, but in concrete descriptions of reality, they complete the picture of a society of limited freedoms. Space personalizes all desirable values, but it also reflects cracks in the life of dystopias - hierarchies instead of proclaimed equality, tension instead of harmony, true, but also false weaknesses.

The lived-through experience of coercion and threats, knowledge of crimes perpetrated by totalitarian authorities, have left trace in the way of presentation of the space of privileges, investigation and torture, public manifestations, love. Impossibility to control the entire society and the individuals who do not put up with the overall control, bring about attempts to at least partial abolition of permanent publicity and opening of the secret, personal space and activities. But, the authorities are also hiding the lie of their ideology, most often of equality and welfare, hiding the spaces of privileged individuals from the eyes of the masses. Construction, redecoration of new and destruction of old towns is supported by the existing ideas regarding cities in the works with elements of dystopian fiction, while full radicalization in presenting space takes place in futuristic works in which fantasy moves more freely among extreme ideas and limits of a world of overall control and violence. The border between the world of freedom and the world of non-freedom carries dangers of overthrowing of order and represents a clear, but not always true, border between worlds. Sometimes that border is at the same time a different space, a trap for the disobedient, used only to lure and eliminate rebels. In Slavic literatures one finds both types of fictionalization of dystopias and the presentation of space in dystopian worlds.


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Vladimir Nabokov’s Bend Sinister
Yevgeniy Zamyatin We
Vassiliy Axionov The Crimea Island,
Vladimir Voinovich Moscow 2042,
Anatoliy Gladilin FSSR
Aleksandar Zinovyev Gaping Heights
Borislav Pekich Rabies, Atlantis, New Jerusalem, 1999
Svetislav Basara Haunted Country, Virtual Caballa
Dobritsa Cosich Fairy Tale
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