Hope in 21st c. Russian Anti-Utopia

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Boris Lanin


This paper presents a search for hope in Russian anti-utopia. The point of departure is the hypothesis that modern authors use the anti-utopian genre as a channel to discuss and critique scenarios of the future. They have transformed anti-utopia from a literary genre into a method of modeling reality and depicting the near future in metaphorical way. The similarity of those utopian projects is explained through the Carl Schmidt’s term ‘states of exception’ which was thoroughly developed by Giorgio Agamben. Anti-utopia concentrates on the tragedy of the individual forced to live under totalitarian pressures. It always includes a description of some utopian project but examines this utopia’s promised “happiness for everybody” through the hopes and true fate of the individual. This true fate of the individual reveals fake hope of the utopian project. Anti-utopia starts at the point where the protagonist rejects the Orwellian principles and struggles for his hope to change the world and his life in this world. Anti-utopian thinking increases in times of rapid technological change and social stress, like epidemics and pandemics, and so the present moment renders this topic particularly relevant.


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Literary studies