"To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual \ud Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:\ud And always will be, some of them especially\ud When there is distress of nations and perplexity\ud Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.\ud Men’s curiosity searches past and future\ud And clings to that dimension". (T. S. Eliot, “The Dry Salvages” (212).)\ud Eliot here embraces several common elements of what we might understand by ‘apocalypse’. The original Greek term is concerned with ‘revealing’, with searching “past and future”, the better to understand what has happened and will happen. Yet although St John’s book of Revelation\ud is concerned primarily with explaining his eschatological vision of the ‘last things’, both to encourage the early Church (of final reward) and to act as a stern warning (against increasing corruption and apostasy), it is\ud the powerful notion of the violent or cataclysmic end of all things that has persisted and most influenced our perception of ‘apocalypse’ through the ages, as represented in literature. Dystopia, a term of relatively recent coinage (although the concept itself is not new), is closely linked with apocalypse—as indeed with its opposite, or the imagined ideal, utopia—all terms featuring prominently in contemporary fiction and discourse: the last twenty years have seen a spate of books, plays and films with ‘apoca-lyptic’ themes and/or titles, as also of scholarly essays seeking to represent\ud or explain some aspect of our world in terms of the biblical prophecy
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