Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)
Patrick Parrinder: Suburban Apocalypse
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the spread of the cities into suburbia transformed the English landscape. This was viewed as a sociological transformation in which a new form of society and a new form of being developed, neither urban nor rural. This was treated with contempt by many writers, and opposed to traditional values of culture and society: in particular ‘England vs Suburbia’ emerged as a political position. Many of the anti-suburban writers, Lawrence, Gissing, Jeffries, Wells, emerged themselves from suburbs and took great delight in the denigration of those suburbs and in repeatedly imagining their destruction. In the various apocalyptic visions of Wells, for example, destruction was rained down on the suburbs. England’s alien invaders destroyed what was, in many views, already destroying England.