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An Introduction to Fiction & Politics


This Saturday I’ll be presenting Very British Dystopias on Radio Four as part of its Archive Hour series.

The documentary is partly based on work I’ve done for this forthcoming book on political fiction in general, and it focuses on post-war fictions that imagined a politics gone wrong.

It starts from George Orwell’s highly influential 1984 and ends with V for Vendetta (pictured) by way of Quatermass 2, The Prisoner, A Very British Coup and Spooks to name but a few. Through interviews with writers of the ilk of Frederick Forsythe, David Hare, Douglas Hurd, Robert McCrumb and Chris Mullin I argue that such fictions were influenced by the political context in which they were produced – but also helped shape how contemporaries viewed politics, making more credible the threats they outlined.

While many academics remain cautious about taking seriously the role of fiction within politics it is an expanding field, one occupied by an increasing number of historians and political scientists.

To highlight such work, this week Ballots and Bullets is publishing a short series of posts that explore different aspects of the subject, from a long forgotten biopic of Queen Victoria to 2013’s remake of Yes Minister. By the end of the series – and after listening to Very British Dystopias – you should be more likely to take fiction more seriously, or I’ll want to know why!

Steven Fielding

Published inArt, Fiction & Politics

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