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Totalitarianism in Fiction: Home

In 1951, political philosopher Hannah Arendt published her influential masterwork The Origins of Totalitarianism. In it she says that "totalitarian governments are characterized by their replacement of all prior traditions and political institutions with new ones that serve the specific and singular goal of the totalitarian state. Totalitarian governments strive for global rule and are distinguished by their successful organization of the masses...Arendt also argues that ...[totalitarian governments] are defined by their use of terror...directed at enemies of the regime and obedient followers without distinction" (Slair, 2015).

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt was responding to the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism. Other writers responded to totalitarian ideologies, not through the writing of political treatises, but through fiction. The novels that they wrote attempt to place us in totalitarian societies, so that we experience them as do the characters in these books, and so that we are moved to work in our world to keep such things from coming to pass.

This webpage is designed to connect the curious to works of fiction owned by the Gumberg Library that depict these totalitarian worlds, real and imagined, many of which have served as important political prophecies. It will also point the user to electronic reference databases for background information, print and electronic books about the authors and the works themselves, and to databases for articles from literary, historical, sociological, and philosophical journals.

Slair, Cali. "Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism." 2015.Not Even Past.

Find Books

It Can't Happen Here

By Sinclair Lewis


Call number: PS3523.E94 I8 1935X - 2nd Floor

The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells


Call number: PR5774 .T5 1984X - 2nd Floor


Brave New World

By Aldous Huxley


Call Number: PR6015 .U9 B65 2006X - 2nd Floor



By Ayn Rnad


Call number: PS3535.A547 A7 1995 - 2nd Floor

Darkness at Noon

By Arthur Koestler


Call number: PR6021 .O4 D3 2006X - 2nd Floor

Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale

By George Orwell


Call number: PR6029 .R8 A63 1996X - Curriculum Center, Chapter Books (5th Floor)

Nineteen Eighty-Four

By George Orwell


Call number: PR6029 .R8 N647 2003 - 2nd Floor


Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury


Call number: PS3503 .R167 F3 2003BX - 2nd Floor


The Man in the High Castle

By Phillip K. Dick


Call number: PS 3554 I3 M26 2011 - 2nd Floor

The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood


Call number: PR 9199.3 A8 H3 1998 - 2nd Floor

V for Vendetta: New Edition

By Alan Moore & David Lloyd


Call number: PN6737 .M66 V2 2005X - 2nd Floor

The Giver

By Lois Lowry


Call number: PZ7 .L9673 GI 2002X - Curriculum Center, Chapter Books (5th Floor)

The Land of Green Plums

By Herta Muller


Call number:PT2673.U29234 H4713 1996 - 2nd Floor

The Plot Against America

Bt Philip Roth


Call number: PS3568 .O855 P58 2005B - 2nd Floor

The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins


Call number: PZ7 .C6837 HUN 2009X - Curriculum Center, Chapter Books (5th Floor)

The Maze Runner

By James Dashner


Call number: PZ7 .D2587 MAZ 2009 - Curriculum Center, Chapter Books (5th Floor)


By Veronica Roth


Call number: PZ7 .R7375 DI 2012X - Curriculum Center, Chapter Books (5th Floor)

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