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And, indeed, it is “chiefly as contributions to social thought” that Kumar considers them. ” This is borne out, Kumar maintains, specifically in the case of H. G. 88 It is interesting to think about Zamyatin’s We in this way. For if there is anything to be said for the above analysis then it follows that it is incorrect to think of We as being even one example, let alone the classic example, of a literary dystopia. Indeed if we apply this line of reasoning, which as we have seen is suggested by Zamyatin himself, to Zamyatin’s own text then we would have to conclude that We also is best thought of as a novel rather than a literary dystopia in this particular sense of the term.

He claims, in effect, that Wells’s contribution to the historical development of the utopian/dystopian literary tradition was to write the first dystopian novel. According to Zamyatin, the utopian novel, if it existed, would constitute an inversion of the genre of the dystopian novel, a genre which, in its turn, constitutes both an inversion and a displacement of the traditional literary utopia. The accolade of being the first person to write a utopian novel, in the strict sense of the term, could, therefore, only be awarded to a novelist who in the later history of Science Fiction and the History of Utopian Literature 39 utopian/dystopian literature came after H.

In the fifth category are those commentators who maintain that it is difficult to pigeonhole Wells by attempting to periodize his thinking and writing along the lines indicated earlier. According to them, it is true that Wells was both a utopian and a dystopian writer. However, this is true of him neither alternately, as commentators in category three maintain, nor sequentially, as commentators in category four suggest. Rather it was true of him at all times throughout his life. On this reading, then, Wells was always an inconsistent thinker whose writings are shot through with contradictions.

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