Kallocain (book review) Karin Boye,
Gustaf Lannestock (Translator), Richard B. Vowles (Introduction)
270315: bleak, believable, banal, beautiful- best dystopia of which i had never heard, written by a woman poet. some reviews characterize Kallocain (1940) as kind of a Swedish 1984(1948) or Brave New World (1932), but i suggest the lineage more fruitfully explored is We by Zamyatin (1921). this is a lyrical, poetic, rather mundane world without either the melodramatic oppression, the great names, the obvious powers of orwell's book- ministry of truth, thought police etc.- or the conspiracy of intellectual powers, seductive technology, behaviourism of BNW, this world, this worldstate, seems more plausible, more human, more philosophical. partly because there is no big reveal, no real, identifiable, irresistible powers- only surveillance, informing, group psychology, personal ambitions and emotions radically redirected to the worldstate. when the narrator is less than heroic, when his truth is often revealed accidentally, rather than confessed, and the truth of love is the final private sense of humanity... when this goes under to the power of kallocain truth serum... are we human anymore...?