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A Newspeak of Extinction: The Disintegration of Meaning in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0126-5655
2012 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The contingency of language is one of the central concerns of Margaret Atwood’s speculative novel Oryx and Crake (2003), set in a severely climate-changed Canadian landscape.  Atwood’s near-future world is the realisation of the negative effects of extreme globalisation, which, coupled with complete commercialisation, had resulted in utter environmental degradation and irreparable climate change on the one hand, and the development of increasingly daring biotechnologies on the other.  One of the central themes of the novel is that of extinction – not just the impending extinction of the physical environment, but also the imminent extinction of various types of cultural expressions.  As the protagonist has to mediate his experience of an increasingly foreign world, language is portrayed as under threat.  In this paper I explore the notion that the world of Oryx and Crake has necessitated a breakdown in meaning which has resulted in a kind of Orwellian Newspeak – as for example manifested in the incongruous brand names used in the novel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keywords [en]
Margaret Atwood; George Orwell; language; dystopia, brand names
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-30626OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-30626DiVA, id: diva2:676501
Conference
Environmentalism, Spatiality, and the Public Sphere - NIES Research Symposium VII. Oslo, Norway, 27-29 Sep. 2012
Available from: 2013-12-06 Created: 2013-12-06 Last updated: 2017-11-15Bibliographically approved

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