Building Heaven on Earth: Romance and Realism in Gore Vidal’s Visit to a Small Planet
Romance and realism are almost contrary to each other. Realism focuses on real life, its issues and realities being objective and unromantic. Instead of idealizing life, it actualizes it. So, it keeps its feet on earth whereas romance has an alluring effect because of its flight from the hard practical life into heaven presenting an idealized form of life. This study explores this combined perspective of two opposite approaches in Gore Vidal’s Science fiction Visit to a Small Planet (2019). Vidal deals with the elements of romance and realism simultaneously. This synthesis is more interesting because the story itself is a Science Fiction. Thus he builds heaven on earth giving a realist critique of present-day civilization at one hand and romantic elements at the other. The play is primarily a Science fiction, which deals with futuristic ideas, space exploration, advanced science and technology and time travel. So this study finds that Vidal’s play provides entertainment, presents realistic picture of society and civilization and forwards an idealized idea of better future. In this way, the combination of romance and realism is quite significant. This attempt may relate to the existing issues in our contemporary world of rupture and turmoil where contemporary civilization faces multiple problems and serious concerns on moral, ethical, cultural, social, economic and other grounds. Moreover, this study may inspire further research that combines contrary and different approaches to analyze and explore literary texts which are generally enriched with multiple themes.
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