I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction recently. I’m currently sixty percent through Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World. It’s another of those books I read a long time ago. In fact it was so long ago that it now feels like I’m reading the book for the first time. Anyway before I started Brave New World I ploughed through Yevgeny Zamyatin‘s 1921 novel We, George Orwell‘s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the 1908 novel The Iron Heel by Jack London.
While they are all very different, articulating various concerns the authors had about the time in which they were writing, they all share a similar plot device, the transgressive protagonist. Ernest Everhard, D-503, Bernard Marx and Winston Smith are all at odds with the orthodoxy of world they live in. Whether it’s socialist revolutionary Ernest Everhard attacking the capitalist oligarchy, or the thought-criminal Winstone Smith defying the totalitarian power of Big Brother, all four novels have a transgressive protagonists.
The other thing that I’m struck by, it might be the thing that makes all these novels dystopian fiction. All the protagonist’s eventually exceed to orthodoxy. They all transgress, and are violently punished for their offences.
This raises a question, is Carrion a dytopian fiction if Adam Leigh remains unpunished for his transgressions at the end? The plot of Carrion only really covers Adam’s transformation from prohibitionist to insurgent. Without the punishment at the end, is his challenge to orthodoxy complete? Perhaps Carrion is less dystopian than I thought? It could be that Carrion is actually just the beginning of Adam’s story, the first part of a much longer journey.
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