What does literature tell us about the future? How does it invent possible worlds? How do writers of Austrian and international literature of the 20th and 21st centuries imagine very different futures?
In the light of the current debates on climate change, digitisation, robotics and artificial intelligence, the new special exhibition in the Literature Museum of the Austrian National Library is dedicated to a highly topical issue, the question of what image we want to make of the future. The focus is on the utopias and dark visions of the future, the machine worlds, doomsday scenarios and satirical idylls that literature invents. The exhibition presents them using selected manuscripts, books and objects from the collections of the Austrian National Library, in particular the Literary Archive.
In addition to German-language texts by authors as diverse as Ingeborg Bachmann, Otto Basil, Hans Flesch-Brunningen, Erich Fried, Marlen Haushofer, Christoph Ransmayr and Oswald Wiener, another focus is on international utopian literature from the 16th century to the present day: Thomas More’s “Utopia”, Karel Čapek’s “War with the Newts” and George Orwell’s “1984” are presented, alongside feminist science fiction novels by Ursula K. Le Guin, who died in 2018.