What Defines Dystopian Fiction: Background information when reading What's Left of Me

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What's Left of Me

The Hybrid Chronicles, Book One

By Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2012,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2013,
    336 pages.

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Beyond the Book:
What Defines Dystopian Fiction

John Stuart Mill Dystopian themes have appeared in literature throughout history, but the first use of the word is credited to John Stuart Mill. In 1868, during a speech to the British House of Commons, he played upon the well-known word, "utopia" (adding "dys," which is derived from a Greek word meaning "bad") and used it to criticize legislators who supported a policy with which he disagreed. He said that they were "dys-topians" because they were supporting a policy that was "too bad to be practical."

As to the word "utopia," it would have been familiar to Mill's audience because it had been around for over 350 years, having been coined by Thomas More (the Renaissance humanist and writer) who combined the Greek words for "good place" (eutopia) and "no place," (outopia) for the title of his 1516 book about an idyllic island society. His Utopia was not the first of its kind, however. Just as dystopian works existed before the word began to be used retroactively to describe them, there were many ...

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