There are countless non-fiction books written about socialism and communism describing the systems in theory and documenting the historical periods when they emerged . However, a few authors have managed to depict the terrors and the harsh oppressive nature of the socialist, communist and totalitarian systems through their art of allegory, satire and intriguing characters. Here are a few fiction books written as a parody or critique of socialist systems:
1984 by George Orwell
In 1984 George Orwell depicts a dystopian world that takes place in the year 1984. The world is described as being in a constant war, there is massive government surveillance and people are not even allowed to think and express their opinions as independent individuals as they would be accused of thought crime. The novel depicts the public as worshiping the cult of ‘The Big Brother’ who is the leader of the Party but also isn’t confirmed to actually exist as a person, being merely described as a ‘face seen on the city posters and telescreens’.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
The Master and Margarita is a satire that tells a story of Moscow being visited by the devil, a charming and intriguing character who criticizes the communist beliefs. The books was written in one of the most difficult times of the Soviet Union, under the harsh Stalin regime when people suffered severe oppression, fear and control by the Government. The purpose of introducing the devil as a main character is to compare him to Stalin and to pose the question which one of them is ‘more evil’.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
In this book George Orwell yet again depicts a Stalinist system through the satirical allegory of the Animal Farm. The book was banned in the Soviet Union for the obvious reason. Even in Britain, Orwell had a difficulty finding a publisher because the Soviet Union was a ally of Great Britain in WWII
Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer
Another satire of the socialist system written by the Hungarian author Tibor Fischer. The protagonists want to escape their current lives as factory workers and travel as basketball players to indulge in their pleasures and pursue their dreams. The title of the book comes from a famous Hungarian expression “under a frog’s arse, down a coalmine” which means things are so bad that they can’t get any worse.
We the Living by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s debut novel We the Living depicts a story of a free-spirited young woman living in post-revolutionary Russia who doesn’t want to live her life by the Soviet communist values and standards and fights passionately for her values. The book was actually close to autobiography as Ayn Rand once stated: “It is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write. The plot is invented, the background is not….The specific events of Kira’s life were not mine; her ideas, her convictions, her values, were and are.”