Building Bridges between Brave New Worlds

Julie de Molade

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Through a critical social dreaming, the literary dystopia imagines a nightmarish vision of contemporary social and cultural problems, and it is such a literary dystopia that this dissertation examines. Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel Oryx and Crake (2003) forms the basis for the analytical investigation, as the dissertation seeks to understand the literary legacies in Oryx and Crake. Critics have already identified the use of prominent precursors and this dissertation takes up two of them, namely the two dystopian classics: Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels Book IV: A Voyage To The Country Of The Houyhnhnms (1726) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). The dissertation studies how Oryx and Crake engages with the social dreaming of Swift and Huxley and what effect this ‘dystopian dialogue’ has. With intertextuality as the binding link in this dialogue, the analysis explores the form and content of Oryx and Crake and its intertextuality with the two examples of the dystopian tradition. The academic field of utopianism provides the theoretical background, as two concepts ‘critical dystopia’ and ‘estrangement’ constitute the etymological basis for the analytical choices. By establishing four analytical ‘bridge piers’ in the metaphorical bridge of the analysis, the dissertation clarifies the dialogue with these two novels of the past by investigating character, setting, social criticism and narratology. The dissertation concludes that Oryx and Crake engages with the social dreaming of Brave New World and Gulliver’s Travels (Book IV) as it takes up many of the same themes and social problems as the two older novels. The effect of this engagement establishes Oryx and Crake as an answering or continuing voice in the dystopian dialogue. Through non-scientific para-texts and its engagement with its historical heritage, Oryx and Crake expresses and perhaps also represses voices from past and present. As such, the novel articulates a general concern about the present state of the world, emphasising a radical transformation of human nature, biological engineering as well as environmental and social problems.

UddannelserEngelsk, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato7 okt. 2008


  • critical dystopia
  • dystopia
  • Utopianism
  • Brave New World
  • Oryx and Crake
  • intertextuality
  • social satire
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Gulliver's Travels