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Early utopian visions







What does this word mean?  UTOPIA



Generally Utopia means an unreachable ideal of an idea, no matter if you're talking about society, believes or an intention. Looking at it from a more philosophical point of view, Utopia means the ideal state of the human society, usually very peaceful.


The name Utopia comes from the 1516 published novel "utopia" by Thomas More. Living under Henry the VIII he published his satirical novel "utopia" in which he portrayed a society based upon collective property, similar to the idea of communism. Though he only wanted to criticise the social standards in England at this time the king let More decapitate in 1535.





The models for Moore's work have been antique writing from Plato or from the middle ages Joachim von Fiore's works. So the first real so called Utopian novels were written at the time of the Renaissance, not only by More, but also by Giovanni Domenico Campanella (The Sun Nation) or more famous Francis Bacon (Nova Atlantis). Basing on theses novels developed through out the 17th and 18th century in England and French a literary class that criticised the society compared to the possible ideal which often seemed to have a timeless character. Inseparable linked to the Utopian illusion was the ideal combination of the religious life and the worldly life in harmony with the gospel.


Since the beginning of the 19th century many literary utopian vision have a direct link to real events of that time. Urged by a big optimism in a better future most of the utopian stories are now settled somewhere, far in the future, while they were settled only in a different country before. Because of technical and scientifically progress the people hoped for an end of all the lacks of food and wealth and for an end of the suppression.

Writers like R. Owen or C. Fourier thought that the only possibility to take all advantages of the technical progress was to put an end to property of the single. At the same time the first non technical utopian visions came up, getting back to the roots, living very humble in harmony with the nature and return to our ancient ways of living.

In the 20th century more and more negative utopian visions caused by the technical progression or totalitarian suppression came up. Just to list some of them: "Brave New World" by Aldeous Huxley, "1984" by George Orwell, "Us" by Jewgenij Iwanowitsch Samjatin

Still Science Fiction is linked very tight to the theme of Utopia!













































1984 - George Orwell (first published in 1949)


About the author:


The book Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell was written in 1948 and published in 1949. It is one of Orwell´s most famous books.

George Orwell was born as Eric Arthur Blair in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles. "Down and Out in Paris and London" was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there. At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and he was wounded. "Homage to Catalonia" is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on he was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there he wrote "Coming Up for Air". During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political novel "Animal Farm" was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four, which brought him worldwide fame. George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

The title 1984:


1984 means the year, when everything has changed. The world is divided into three countries: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Oceania compromises the Americas, the Atlantic islands including the British Isles, Australia and the southern portion of Afrika. Eurasia compromises the whole of the northern part of the European and Asiatic land-mass. Eastasia, smaller than the others compromises China and the countries to the south of it, the Japanese islands and large parts of Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet. Two of the three countries are allied and lead war against the third country. Who is allied and who is the enemy changes from time to time. The novel is set in the year 1984 in London ("Airstrip One") in Oceania, a superpower controlled by the restrictive "Party" and led by the symbolic head Big Brother. Everywhere you can see large posters of him saying: "Big Brother Is Watching You". These are the slogans of the party:

WAR IS PEACE!

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY!

IGNORANCE IS STRENGHT!


The entire apparatus of government in Oceania is divided in four Ministries: The Ministry of Truth, which concerns itself with news, entertainment, education and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerns itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintains law, order and the Ministry of Plenty, which is responsible for economic affairs. The regime has invented a new language, called Newspeak, the official language in Oceania. Newspeak should prevent everybody from thinking wrong, which is called crime think in Newspeak. The vocabulary is reduced, so that there is no way of thinking wrong, because you can't express it.

The Party controls the industry and the production of all goods. But the worst thing is, that it alters the past by rewriting or destroying all old documents. What was true yesterday can be wrong today. It is forbidden to think against the party, to say nothing on public demonstrations.

To have an overlook over all the people the party has organized a secret organisation, the Thought Police, which uses modern telescreens to control each single person. The telescreen receives and transmits simultaneously. In almost every room a telescreen is fixed and everything that happens is transmitted to the Thought Police.


Main Characters:


Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party, thirty-nine years old and suffers from varicose ulcer. He works in the Ministry of Truth, where he has to rewrite old newspaper articles. He's intelligent, sensible and recognizes the lies of the Party. He wonders how other people oversee the obvious lies and the daily cutbacks of consumer goods. His hope that the totalitarian regime will be overthrown one day lies on the proles.


O'Brian He also works in the Ministry of Truth and he's member of the Inner Party and of the thought-police, but Winston doesn't know that fact. At the beginning of the the story, Winston supposes that O'Brian is a member of the Brotherhood and so O'Brian deceives Winston. He's also intelligent, understands everything and is able to explain everything and talk in a way that makes u want to listen to him. In the end he tortures Winston to destroy his resistance against the Party, and he has a counterargument for every argument of Winston when he interrogates him.


Winston: Does "Big Brother exist?" "Of course he exists. The party exists. Big Brother exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party." "Does he exist in the same way as I exist?" "You don't exist," said O'Brien.


Julia becomes Winston's girlfriend and she's also member of the Outer Party. Winston really loves her, and so they meet secretly in a room which Winston met from an antique dealer in a proles-part of London. She seems to be a perfect Party-member, because she spends much time with organizing campaigns for the Party and screams the loudest during the hate-minutes.


Emmanuel Goldstein is the leader of an underground organisation called "The Brotherhood". Nobody knows if he and the organisation really exists. Goldstein is said to be the author of "The book" which is criticising the party's politics and the structure of society. Party members have to hate him and his picture is shown on the telescreen during the hate-minutes.

Winston Smith, Julia and O'Brian are round characters but all the others are stereotypes, all supporters of the Party who are fascinated by Big Brother.

The story is told by a third person narrator but seems to stick to Winston's point of view.

Plot:


Winston Smith was born before the revolution and is not really satisfied with the system but he doesn't dare to protest. He buys a diary in a stationery one day that is owned by an old man. Winston wants to write a diary to keep at least some remembrances for the future.

One day during the 'Two Minutes Hate' he sees a girl in the Ministry of truth. He feels that he loves her but at the same time he hates her and is afraid of her because he thinks that she is from the Thought Police. But a few days later this girl hands Winston a paper where she tells him that she loves him. Winston and Julia decide to meet in the area around London because there is a smaller risk of being caught there than in town.

Later they lend a room above the old man's stationery because they think it is safe to meet there. They decide to do something against the party. But Julia isn't the only one who gives some signs and so O'Brian comes up one day to Winston and asks him to visit him at home so Winston and Julia visit O'Brian a few weeks later because they think that he is also against the party. O'Brian tells them that he is a member of Goldstein's Brotherhood. Winston and Julia also join this organisation and a few weeks later O'Brian sends them a book by Emmanuel Goldstein where he explains the political system of Oceania. While Winston is reading the book in their room, men of the Thought Police burst in and arrest them. The old man who owns this house turns out not to be an old man but a Thought Police member.



Winston and Julia are separated and taken to the Ministry of love. There Winston is tortured by O'Brian, who is of course not a Brotherhood member.

After some time in the Ministry of love Winston is totally changed and follows every order without thinking. The aim of his torture is that he loses every thought, every idea of getting the party down. They can't kill him as long as he is against them because they don't tolerate any doubts and different thoughts, they don't want any martyrs so they punish him and go on and on with his brainwash. After his release he meets Julia again but he doesn't love her any more, neither does she. So Winston sits everyday in a café, not able to feel anything. The Though Police hasn't just stolen his thoughts; they have made him unable to feel anything, no real love, no hate, no doubts, nothing but love for the Big Brother.



Interpretation:


George Orwell wrote this book in the years 1946 to 1949, just after the 2nd World War and the breakdown of the Third World. In '1984' he describes a communist system, but it could also be a fascist one - it is a general description of a totalitarian system.

So many parallels to other systems, especially to Nazi-Germany can be drawn: one leader who is mystified; the Inner Party members, who have a lot of privileges; the Thought Police and as equality the GESTAPO. A very interesting fact is also the existence of one enemy who is blamed for everything. Orwell chose the name Goldstein for this enemy which is a Jewish name because of the fact that Jews were the ONE enemy in the Third World but were also prosecuted in the USSR.


The Party has also created a new, sanitised language, called Newspeak to take the place of traditional English with its uncomfortable associations. It is based on short, clipped words which arouse the minimum of echoes in the speaker's mind and which make it impossible to think of measures against the Party. There will be no possibility to commit thought crime as soon as everybody speaks Newspeak, because there will be no words to express it. The purpose of Newspeak is not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc (the Party's ideology), but to make all other modes of thought impossible. When everybody will speak Newspeak, a heretical thought, diverging from the principles of Ingsoc will be unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to minimize the range of thought. Orwell gives real-world examples of Newspeak: "Nazi, Gestapo, Comintern" and there are many others.


Ingsoc, Oceania's political idea is based on the Socialism. But in each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more abandoned. The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the century, Ingsoc in Oceania, New-Bolshevism in Eurasia, Death-Worship in Eastasia, had the conscious aim of perpetuating unfreedom and inequality. The purpose of all of them is to arrest progress and freeze history at a chosen moment. Every new political theory leads back to hierarchy.


Orwell also shows the different groups of people in such systems: One group is really convinced that this system is the best for the country, only a few people are against it but most of the people follow without thinking, even if they are not really satisfied.

The system of Oceania is described as much more perfect than all systems that have ever existed in reality. This example should force us to do everything possible to avoid totalitarian systems and dictatorships in future.



The Time Machine - H. G. Wells (first published in 1895)



About the author:



Herbert George Wells, novelist and sociologist, was born in Bromley, Kent in1866. He seemed to become a very intelligent boy which his later success would proof. The jobs he had before his career as a famous writer tell us about his versatility and self-righteousness. First he was educated at Midhurst Grammar School and after being apprenticed to a draper and then to a chemist, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Science where he studied under T. H. Huxley. He became a pupil-teacher at the University Correspondence College, Cambridge, and after obtaining a B Sc degree, became a science lecturer. His first marriage to a cousin ended in divorce and he subsequently married on of his pupils, Amy Catherine Robbins. He died in1946. His first successful book was The Time Machine and was followed up two years later by The Invisible Man. With his story The War of the Worlds Wells created the model for the same named radio play by Orson wells, which caused mass panics in the US. It was so realistic that the people believed in Wells visions of octopus like creatures attacking the world to take over the control of the world. Creating utopias was the passion of his life and this motivated his writing Mankind of the Making and A Modern Utopia. At least 7 of his books were famously filmed and nearly everybody knows at least one vision of H. G. Wells. In his final phase, Wells turned to socio-political writing with such books as The Outside History and The Shape of Things to Come. His account of his own life, Experience in Autobiography, was published in 1934.

Main Characters:


The Time Traveller: you don't get to know a lot about his background, only that he's a well educated scientist who lives at the London of the out clinging 19th century. He is talented in learning new things and gifted with a sharp analytic mind. He holds weekly meetings for people who are interested in his scientific and philosophical discussions. He's pushed onto new things by his urge to research. At his trip in the future he never sits still, always he's looking for new discoveries and whatever he sees, he wants to know the background, the reason for a development and analyses the new very thoughtful.


Weena: The Time Traveller rescues her on his trip to the future from drowning and from the very first moment she's very considerate and somehow in love with the Time Traveller. Though the two aren't able to converse properly, she sticks to him, never goes away and tries to comfort him. Weena also flatters him a lot, on the one hand, she's like a child, on the other more like a dog that always comes back after you've beaten him. She's the only character in the book we get to know a bit better, she's got a name, a life, a home, not just a nameless figure like the time traveller himself or the young man.


The young man: He visits the meetings of the Mr. X as one of the few constant visitors and listens with the fascination of a little child and he's willing to believe in the things what he sees with his own eyes. Not like the others, he thinks that there are some mysteries left to explore. Though doesn't participate a lot at the conversations, he listens very interested and takes notes, so he also writes down the whole report of the Time Traveller about the events in the future. Maybe it's because of his youth, maybe it's because he's not as rich as the others, more open for new things, in the end, he's the only one who believes the Time Traveller.










Plot:


At the beginning a young man tells about a meeting he joins. It's at the house of the time traveller, who wants the other to call him Mr. X. The Time traveller starts right away a discussion about the four dimensions, the 3 in space and the timeline. He wants to introduce the others as soft as possible to the fact that he is possible to travel through the time and to proof to his guests that what he says is true, he shows a small device that can go through the time. But his guests don't believe him and so he tells them to come again a week later. So when they arrive at his house, the time traveller comes around but he looks very dirty, used and tired. He tells them that he has done it, that he has travelled through time and gives a chronological order of the events he has experienced in the future: He starts of at the beginning of the 20th century and travels to what he calls the golden age, about 800.000 years in the future. What he finds there makes him think a lot, the people are friendly and small, without any fear and filled with a childlike trust. They welcome him very friendly, decorate him with flowers and give him something to eat. The first few days the time traveller explores the surroundings of the London of the future, still there can be some thins recognised like the shape of the land, the themse but he begins to wonder why the small people - they call themselves Eloi - aren't able to any further thoughts. Soon he recognizes that this is the farce of the ideal society: fear, misery, illness and wore have been exterminated and so there was no more need for intelligence because intelligence always rises up from needs and danger. The Eloi aren't able to do more than dance around, singing and talking in their very simple language, they don't know science or any other interests no more. As one of the small creatures nearly drowns in the river while they play the time traveller is the only one who helps, the others only stare at the small women who drifts away. From this moment on the girl, she's named Weena doesn't leave the time traveller, not for any reason. He's affected by her love and she makes him feel more comfortable and so he's happy about her presence. Still the time traveller goes on with his explorations and now he concentrates on the strange towers that are everywhere. Soon he establishes a connection between theses towers and the many wells and after he sees strange hairy animals at night, disappearing in the wells, he gets down such a well. What he sees there makes him understand a lot and he recognises how wrong he has been with his theories about the degeneration of the Eloi. The creatures that live down there in the underground also have been human one day. What he sees is the pervert extreme of the class differences of today. The ones who live at the sunlight, the Eloi, they have a neat life, food, clothes, all they need but they aren't able to produce what they need, so the Morlocks, the people of the underground do it for them, they live in the dark since thousands of years and their bodies have adjusted them for a life without light and fresh food. But after they weren't able no more to get food down there, they started to take care of the Eloi and get them as food and so they come to the surface every night to get something to eat. That's why the Eloi are so afraid of the dark. Shocked the time traveller escapes but on his flight Weena gets killed though he wanted to take her with him and so he gets to his time machine but he doesn't return immediately to his time, first he wants to see how the end of the world looks like but everything he finds are some big crabs and plants so he has to confess that the mankind has failed and that in the end only the strongest remains. Back at the weekly meeting he tells his whole story. But none of his guests really believes him and so they all leave, somewhat disappointed. The only one who believes him, a young man returns to the house just to see the time traveller leave again for new adventures. The young man now knows that everything has been true and so he waits for the time traveller to return, but he won't come back anymore.


Interpretation:



The Time Machine might be considered the first work of modern science-fiction, and it is still the classic statement of an important subgenre. But this novel about the Victorian future is more than a fantastical moan; it raises necessary questions about progress, social orders, so called civilisation and the ultimate fate of the world.

Wells wrote this novel mainly because Charles Darwin published and proved his theory of evolution, which was the greatest scientific rumpus since the trial of Galileo. The concrete fictions in The Time Machine are as true as the fictions in Verne's Book Travel to the Moon. Many critics compare Wells with Jules Verne, but while Verne refers his fictions to real scientific facts, Wells concentrates more on political and social future visions. Verne said about Wells that his stories didn't response on very scientific bases; Wells invented, but he was nevertheless aware of the latest developments in science.

Wells sees the evolution of two races as an outgrowth of 19th century populations of capitalists and the working class.





Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (first published in 1954)


About the Author


Raymond Douglas Bradbury was born in Waukegan (Illinois) on 22nd of August 1920. This city was later also described in his stories under the name 'Green Town'. At the age of 14 years he moved to Arizona and later to Los Angeles where he finally finished school. His parents, who were book publishers, and his aunt Neva, a fan of fairytales, influenced Bradbury very much. As a child he liked comics, horror films and fantasy worlds. In 1934 he started writing short stories which mostly trade with science fiction, and published them in youth magazines or science-fiction-magazines.


By writing stories and even selling newspapers he earned a little money; in 1947 he published his first book called 'Dark Carnival', an anthology of his short stories. He finally made the breakthrough as a highly acclaimed author with 'The Martian Chronicles', later he wrote works like 'The Illustrated Man' and 'Fahrenheit 451' and he got prices like the 'Benjamin Franklin Award' or the 'National Institute of Arts and letters Award in Literature'. An interesting fact concerning the success of his books is that 'The Illustrated Man' has been a highly praised work, whereas 'Fahrenheit 451', his most famous book, was judged as a story beneath contempt (by reviewers) because of the missing description of for instance the political system, the very optimistic ending.










Main characters:


Guy Montag is the protagonist of the story. At the beginning he seems to be a 'normal', dissatisfied and bored average guy. He earns his money by burning books because he's a fireman in a narrow-minded, partly dictatorial system. When he meets Clarisse, his character changes: he acquires self-knowledge; he undergoes a process of development and gets to know the other side of books and knowledge. By reading stories he starts to think and so there arises a dilemma between his job and his new attitude: both are inconsistent with each other. He makes up his mind, decides to fight for intellectual liberty what makes him happy but also completely left out by society.


Mildred Montag is Guy's wife but has a totally different character. She's the typical member of society; she fits into the system very well, is only interested in money and material possession and represents shallowness and mediocrity. Mildred, an artificial and obviously isolated beauty, loves fun, which means e.g. watching TV, and because of her addiction to electricity, technology and the 'modern way of life' she isn't even able to communicate. She doesn't show any emotions and she also betrays her husband in the end.


Clarisse McClellan is the 17-year-old neighbour of Guy Montag and influences him very much. She's the exact opposite of Mildred: She's an outsider, she's everything but an average girl, she's even a living time bomb for society for various reasons. She's open-minded, she is able to think, she has her own opinion. She doesn't mind asking unusual or even dangerous questions. She's quite a human and curios person who's able to do something.


Captain Beatty is the boss of Montag, his antagonist and quite an impenetrable person. He's ruthless, cold-blooded, very authoritarian and seems to be very smart. He's well educated and he often quotes famous authors (which indicates that he could have read books, too). In the end he overdoes it with his accusations and manipulates Montag into killing him.



Fabian is an ancient professor, loves philosophy and science and so he represents humanism and the integrity of an individual. He's quite well informed and of course well read, he knows really a lot about the past but also has a negative side: He's more than careful, he's a real coward, but in the end he gets more courageous.



Plot:


Guy Montag, a fireman of the future, lives in a modern, strange and scary world where students don't learn from humans, but from TV (so they can't ask questions), where people get rid of their aggressions by visiting 'Fun Parks' and 'Car Wreckers', and where human beings try to have fun by killing others. The most important aim of humans is having fun - even by taking pills, which might be suggestive of drugs you take today to feel better or to forget your problems.

In this depressing world where people can't even talk to each other, it is Montag's job to find books and to burn them. At the very beginning of the first chapter his job and the feelings of firemen doing their job ('It was special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed') is described.

One day, the protagonist gets to know his new neighbour, Clarisse McClellan, a young and critical girl who prompts him to start thinking about his meaningless life and books. The relationship with Clarisse who soon gets killed in an accident  influences Guy very much, so he gets problems with his feelings and even wants to take the beetle to get rid of his aggressions and kill animals but finally he comes under the books' spellbound. The next incisive event in Montag's life is a meeting with an old woman who prefers dying in a sea of flames to 'living' without her beloved books. Montag gets the order to burn books in the house of an old and withdrawn woman who refuses to leave her home while the firemen burn her books. This event made quite a big impression on Montag who also steals a book from the lady. Montag reads the book unaffected by warnings of his boss, Beatty, who apparently knows that Montag does own a book. The only problem Guy has while reading the book is that he can't remember what it is about.

Later he gets to know some of Mildred's friends, Mrs Phelps and Mrs Bowles, who characterize the attitude of citizens concerning for example their relationship to their husbands ('He said, if I get killed off, you just go right ahead and don't cry, [] but don't think of me').The third important incident is Montag's relationship to Faber, a very well educated and intelligent old professor who encourages him in his assumption that reading books is important for everyone. Faber wants Montag to find out what is the truth and to make his own decision. Beatty just tries to convince Guy that reading is a scourge and that everyone has to obey and accept the political system when there's another alarm; they jump into the car and drive to  the house of Guy Montag. There Beatty gives Montag a roasting, provokes him very much and in a way wants Guy to kill him and so Montag does; he burns his boss.

Montag is totally confused and bewildered, he nearly gets knocked down by a car (the car doesn't drive over Montag who lies on the road for fear of having damaged a car, which is significant of this society, too), meets Faber who tells him to pour alcohol over his body so that he can't be caught by the mechanical hound, gives him new clothes and tells him the way to a hidden place. Montag follows Faber's instructions and finally arrives at a place where some bums ('living books') live; they tell him about their world view and the fact that every one of them knows the plot of one book very well. Montag decides to be a Book of Ecclesiastes and also sees an interesting example for the propaganda of the politics on TV: A scene's shown where another, innocent and harmless Montag is killed by the police. The predicted and dreaded atomic war starts, and an interesting scene is described: A bomb detonates in the town where Mildred, who apparently betrayed her husband and left him, lives, and so the TV-set breaks down Mildred sees her empty and unreal smile on the black TV-screen and of course she's shocked.


'And on either side of the river was there a tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.'



Interpretation and Themes:


1) The emptiness of modern mass culture

People are kept from thinking by the prohibition of books and stupid TV programmes. Even newspapers are made like comic books. There is not much communication between persons and if, it is very superficial. Nobody is interested in problems of others and can expect that others understand his problems. If one is despaired, he does not get any help apart from sleeping pills.


2) The prohibition of books

Books are forbidden because they obviously make people unhappy. Beatty says that the people in those never really lived and - even worse - all philosopher's works are contradictionary and therefore there is no use reading them. This is even drummed into the small children's heads. Probably the real reason for the prohibition is that the

Government wants to keep the people naive and superficial because they want to rule absolutely and uncontested.


3) The fate of 'thinking' people

If anybody is different from the others, he quickly becomes an outsider. For example Clarisse: she isn't at all interested in the 'family' but in her environment. She is the only one to realize the insignificant incidents in nature which makes her unpopular with other people. She probably became a teacher because she wants the children to think different from their parents who have become zombies - only thinking about their well-being and their entertainment. Because the pupils use to have fun in her lessons, she is dismissed from her job.


4) Montag's change of mentality

At first, Montag is very content with his job. He doesn't know anything better. Nobody has taught him to think about his life until he meets Clarisse who asks him if he is happy. Because he becomes interested in what makes people read books though it is so dangerous and though it is said to make one unhappy, he starts reading 'David Copperfield' by Charles Dickens. He is so keen on books that he spends every spare minute reading.





















Stranger in a strange land (first published in 1960)


About the author:


Robert Anson Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907 in Butler, Bates County, Missouri, the third son of Rex Ivar Heinlein and Bam Lyle Heinlein. At a young age his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri. He grew up there, but spent summers with relatives in Butler. He graduated from Central High School in Kansas City in 1924 and attended one year of college at Kansas City Community College. His brother Rex had gone on to the Naval Academy at Annapolis and Heinlein elected the same future for himself. Heinlein entered the Naval Academy in 1925. Heinlein was commissioned in 1929 and served on a variety of ships, including the USS Lexington and the destroyer USS Roper. The constant rolling of the destroyer caused Heinlein to be seasick much of the time, and in 1934, weakened, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. He was cured and then retired as medically unfit for service-- 'permanently disabled'-- and given a small pension. In 1932, shortly after his commissioning, he married Leslyn Macdonald. Heinlein never commented publicly on Leslyn or the later divorce. Between 1934 and 1939 Heinlein is believed to have worked at several occupations in both Los Angeles and Colorado Springs. He studied advanced engineering and mathematics at UCLA as well as architecture. He is also believed to have worked in real estate and possibly as an artist, photographer and sculptor, although the details of these trades are not fully known. Heinlein ran for the 59th District California State Assembly seat in the November 1938 election. Although he ran unopposed as a Democrat, he was narrowly defeated in the primary by the Republican incumbent, Charles W. Lyons.

Heinlein divorced Leslyn in late 1947. In late 1948, he married Virginia Doris Gerstenfeld, who remained his wife, assistant and close companion until his death in 1988. She presently lives on the South Atlantic coast.

Heinlein died on the 8th May 1988. His remains were scattered from the stern of a Navy warship off the coast of California. There is no memorial.



Main Characters:


Valentine Michael Smith: he is born on Mars to Earthling parents who die almost immediately after his birth, and is raised by the Martian race. So all his experiences are entirely unique. He is unlike any other Martian because of his human physiology, and unlike any other human because of his Martian ways of thinking. When he comes to Earth, he's entirely innocent and open-minded to every possible influence. Mental powers that humans assume as impossible, such as telekinesis and mind reading, are normal to him, and his philosophies are entirely Martian as well-for example, if a 'water-brother' (a close companion) wished him to die, Mike would be delighted to do so. Earth customs such as jealousy, desire, and lying are completely foreign to Mike.


Jubal Harshaw: he's an old lawyer, doctor and writer who lives together with his secretaries and assistants a very comfortable way of life, away from all the problems of normal people. Although he is tired of fighting against corrupt institutions and prefers to spend his old age satisfying his own desires, when he meets Mike, he seizes the opportunity to once again take on the authorities. In developing a fatherly attachment to Mike, Jubal reopens himself to emotions that he has shut off. With his wise way of getting things done, he has a big influence on Mike, who trusts in Jubal as the last instance and sees in him somehow the human wisdom the Old Ones personify on Mars.


Gillian Boardman: a courageous and confident young nurse. Her friend and old flame, newspaper reporter Ben Caxton, convinces her to help him rescue Mike from his enforced captivity at the hospital. Her nurturing attachment to Mike grows into a profound understanding. She is the first woman Mike ever sees, the first woman he shares water with, and the first woman he kisses. She may or may not be the woman to whom Mike loses his virginity-the identity of that woman is left kept in the dark.



Ben Caxton: A newspaper reporter who writes a political column that has given him the oservation of the Earth's government. Ben is driven partially by a newspaperman's lust for a good story, and partially by a passion for social justice. Despite his liberal politics, he has difficulty accepting the untraditional sexual practices of the church that Mike founds. Ben longs for an old-fashioned marriage to Jill.


Plot:

Humankind sends its first human expedition to Mars. The spaceship's crew arrives on the planet and are never heard from again. Twenty-five years later, another mission is sent, and the child of two of the first ship's crewmembers, who has been born on Mars and raised by the peculiar Martian race, is discovered and brought back to Earth. Because of various legal precedents, Valentine Michael Smith, the Man from Mars, is the inheritor to a vast fortune, and because of another precedent known as the Larkin Decision, Mike has a claim to legal ownership of the planet Mars. Therefore he has the potential to be very influential in matters of Earth politics, and he is kept under close guard at a hospital by the leader of Earth's government, Secretary General Joseph Douglas. In the hospital, Mike slowly teaches his body to adapt to the Earth's atmosphere and he begins learning Earth culture and language, which differ enormously from Martian ways of thought. An ambitious reporter, Ben Caxton, believes that Douglas is using Mike as a pawn in his own political power games and may be planning to kill him. Ben asks his friend and old flame, Jill Boardman, a nurse at the hospital, to help him spy on Mike's treatment at the hospital. So Ben gets kidnapped by the authorities. Jill sneaks Mike out of the hospital. When police officers try to kidnap them as well, Mike makes the officers disappear from existence-one of many psychic powers Mike has learned on Mars. Jill takes Mike to the only man she believes can help them, Jubal Harshaw, a famous doctor, lawyer, writer, and general cultural phenomenon. Jubal lives in a large house with three beautiful secretaries. Jubal agrees to help protect Jill and Mike from the authorities. Mike learns about Earth culture at Jubal's estate, reading everything in Jubal's library and becoming fascinated with Earth religions. The police eventually discover Mike's whereabouts and come to arrest Jubal, but at the last moment, Jubal is able to get through to Douglas personally and convince him to call off the police. Jubal also gets Douglas to rescue Ben from police captivity. Jubal is able to defuse Mike's political importance, arguing that Mike cannot be the legal owner of Mars since the Martian race inhabited it long before Mike was born. Jubal makes Douglas an ally by convincing him to become overseer of Mike's vast personal fortune. Following up on Mike's fascination with religion, he, Jubal and Jill go to visit the headquarters of a religious group called the Fosterites. The Fosterites have aggressively built a massive following, in part by enlisting entertainers, such as football players and strippers, to deliver their message, and incorporating things like gambling into their organization. With Jill as his companion, Mike travels to various cities incognito, experiencing Earth culture. They develop a magician's act that exhibits Mike's powers and join a carnival, but despite Mike's amazing abilities, he lacks a sense of showmanship, and they are fired. A Fosterite tattooed lady in the carnival, Patty, goes to visit them at their hotel room, hoping to convert them before they leave. Mike reveals to her that he is the Man from Mars, and reveals his powers. Patty decides that Mike is a new prophet sent to Earth, as powerful as Foster himself. Jill starts to learn the Martian language and some of Mike's psychic powers as they continue to travel together. Mike starts to learn many human concepts that have disturbed his understanding, such as desire and humor. Finally he believes he understands Earth culture and is ready to help people get past the petty fears and jealousies. He founds a church, called the Church of All Worlds, which uses techniques much as the Fosterites do to attract new members. The church grows in prominence, and a core group of followers-the 'ninth circle'-live together communally, where they all work at learning Martian and developing psychic powers. They rarely wear clothing and engage in group sex and partner swapping in a manner disconcerting to outsiders. Ben goes to visit them and is deeply unnerved by their cultish behavior and open sexuality, but soon enough he has overcome his fears and joined them as well. Jubal-who has come to think of Mike as a son-worries about the increasing persecution Mike is facing, and wonders if Mike is not encouraging this persecution. When Mike's temple is burned down, Jubal rushes to see him. Though Jubal loves Mike, he has resisted visiting Mike's church. Jubal's philosophies are all deeply individualist, and Jubal, like Ben, is unnerved by the cultism of Mike's operation. Mike wonders if his attempts to help humanity are fruitless, if his message is being lost because of an inherent need in humans to create unhappiness for themselves. An angry mob gathers outside the hotel where they are staying, and, in true showman fashion, Mike presents himself to the mob, naked and defenceless. They murder him and he ascends to Heaven where he becomes an archangel alongside such other self-made prophets like Foster. Jubal and Mike's followers forge ahead with Mike's work on Earth.


Themes and Motifs:

Parallels between Mike and Jesus Christ - one obvious interpretation of Mike's story is a post-modern retelling of the Jesus story. Before the novel even begins, we see that the title of Part One is 'His Maculate Conception,' a satirical reference to the mythology of Christ's Immaculate Conception. Although Mike's biological parents are entirely human, Mike's birth and childhood on Mars make his origin as unique on Earth as Christ's. Like Christ, Mike begins to preach a message of peace and love to mankind attracts followers. Mike's 'ninth circle' is roughly equivalent to Christ's disciples, and he is persecuted by the Earthling institutions that seek to preserve their status quo at any cost. Mike is aware of his parallels to Jesus, so when he allows himself to be murdered at the end of the novel, he engineers his death to reference Christ's, even positioning himself to be struck by the light in such a way that it appears he has an angelic halo.

The Spiritual Importance of Sexuality - In his time on Earth, Mike slowly learns about his own race, and what characteristics define humankind. The narrator tells us early about the most important difference between human beings and Martians: Martians lack bipolar (male/female) sexuality. By the end of the novel Mike has come to believe that sexuality, and the sexual act, are the greatest gifts that belongs to humanity. Mike's first notion of intimacy, learned on Mars, is the act of 'water-sharing' or drinking from the same glass as another. From there, Mike learns the human act of kissing, its own sort of water-sharing. Soon Mike discovers sex, the ultimate 'growing-closer.' He believes that the mental bond shared between lovers during sex is the deepest 'grokking' known.

Powerful Institutions and their tendency towards abusing their power - As soon as Mike is discovered on Mars, he is subjected to the wills of massive Earth institutions. He is brought back to Earth and put in a hospital where he is being observed and cared for. In fact, he is a prisoner of Secretary General Douglas and his administration, who know that Mike's political importance, as a celebrity, a man of enormous wealth and arguably the owner of planet Mars, is too great for them to allow him freedom. At one point Douglas considers murdering Mike to preserve his own political power. Any institution has a tendency toward self-preservation, but Heinlein demonstrates here that this tendency is often abused to override basic morality. This is practised by the Fosterite church as it is by the government, and the Fosterites of course are supposed to be, at their root, upholders of morality and goodness. And yet, though Jubal teaches Mike to mistrust institutions, Mike discovers that he needs to build an institution of his own, the Church of All Worlds, modeled largely on the Fosterites, in order to reach the public.








Registry:


http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/


http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/strangeland/


http://www.wissen.de


http://www.strangerinastrangeland.net


http://www.robertaheinlein.com


Tono - Bungay by H. G. Wells


Microsoft Encarta 2003


Fahrenheit 451 - Comments on the Story - Schülerausgabe















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