The Circle (novel)

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Eggers, Dave. The Circle. New York: Knopf, 2013. Audiobook CD, unabridged. Dion Graham, reader. Random House Audio, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-9116-6. For further bibliographic information, summaries, and brief reviews, see entry.[1]

Near-future, gentle dystopia set mostly at the beautiful, full-frontal Californian HQ of a cult-like combination of GoogleCorp and Facebook. Some critics have (correctly) found the book heavy-handed, but subtlety isn't particularly a virtue in propaganda, and The Circle is agitprop in the tradition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, sharing the target of a lack of privacy: call it 1984 minus crude Party surveillance but plus the cybernetic and "digital" revolutions ("Secrets are Lies. / Caring Is Sharing. / Privacy Is Theft"). Usefully attacks "transparency" as an unexamined ideal — Yevgeny Zamyatin's We (ca. 1920) and its glass living units can be usefully invoked here — and post-modernizes the images of Charles Chaplin's Charlie on an assembly line during a speedup, and then trapped in the gears of a gigantic machine (MODERN TIMES [1936]).[2] Note scenes of the protagonist, Mae Holland, as a worker at her screens, in danger of being swamped by incoming messages; note also her parents' doing the arithmetic on how much time it would take them to respond to the deluge of "Zings" and other messages after Mae gives to the world their internet contact information. Useful reviews may be found, possibly ironically, at several places on the World Wide Web, including The New Yorker review of 30 October 2013[3] and an insightful brief review by Jason Harris on Rain Taxi.[4]

Made into a film, released 2017, q.v..

RDE, 24/XI/13, 3/XII/13. 12Dec15, 27May17