Futurs d'antan, Futuribles Journal n° 294

Entreprises, travail

Un précurseur de la dystopie : Jerome K. Jerome. Une parodie du rêve égalitaire


For many people, the name of Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) merely conjures up his comic masterpiece, Three Men in a Boat (1889). In summing up the writer's career, P. van Tieghem states quite rightly in the Dictionnaire des littératures that "he showed a great gift for describing the amusing side of life". But, just as before 1914 another English comic writer, P.G. Wodehouse, was parodying German spy stories with which the British enjoyed frightening themselves, Jerome had the unusual idea of parodying the (not very) amusing aspects of the utopian novels of his own time, and at the same time he managed to anticipate with disturbing foresight the underlying theme of a literary genre that did not then exist: the dystopia or negative utopia.
According to the Encyclopédie de l'utopie et de la science-fiction by Pierre Versins, this strange parody that Professor Beauchamp brings to our attention was translated into French in 1934 in a Belgian literary review (under the title "The New Utopia, or the World in the Year 3000"), then in 1938 was published in a little book entitled Ah! le beau rêve... (Oh What a Beautiful Dream!) but it has not been possible to trace them.

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