The End of the World
Eric S Rabkin Southern Illinois University Press, 1983 Library of Congress PN3433.6.E6 1983 | Dewey Decimal 809.3876
The essays selected by the editors to explore these apocalyptic visions are: “The Remaking of Zero: Beginning at the End,” by Gary K. Wolfe; “The Lone Survivor,” by Robert Plank; “Ambiguous Apocalypse: Transcendental Versions of the End,” by Robert Galbreath; “World’s End: The Imagination of Catastrophe,” by W. Warren Wagar; “Man-Made Catastrophes,” by Brian Stableford; and “The Rebellion of Nature,” by W. Warren Wagar.
Wolfe sees in these postholocaust narratives a central attraction—“the mythic power inherent in the very conception of a remade world.” This power derives from three sources: the emergence of a new order from the ashes of the old system, and thus a kind of denial of death; the reinforcement of one set of values as opposed to another; and as something always replaces whatever was destroyed, a promise that nothing can annihilate humanity.
Writers have created fictions of social perfection at least since Plato’s Republic. Sir Thomas More gave this thread of intellectual history a name when he called his contribution to it Utopia, Greek for noplace.
With each subsequent author cognizant of his predecessors and subject to altered real-world conditions which suggest ever-new causes for hope and alarm, “no place” changed. The fourteen essays presented in this book critically assess man’s fascination with and seeking for “no place.”
“In discussing these central fictions, the contributors see ‘no place’ from diverse perspectives: the sociological, the psychological, the political, the aesthetic. In revealing the roots of these works, the contributors cast back along the whole length of utopian thought. Each essay stands alone; together, the essays make clear what ‘no place’ means today. While it may be true that ‘no place’ has always seemed elsewhere or elsewhen, in fact all utopian fiction whirls contemporary actors through a costume dance no place else but here.”—from the Preface
The contributors are Eric S. Rabkin, B. G. Knepper, Thomas J.Remington, Gorman Beauchamp, William Matter, Ken Davis, Kenneth M. Roemer, William Steinhoff, Howard Segal, Jack Zipes, Kathleen Woodward, Merritt Abrash, and James W. Bittner.