Memories, dreams and the decay of a utopia
ALTHOUGH the literature concerned with imaginary utopias is extensive, the list of novels devoted to life in utopian communities is comparatively short, which seems curious when one considers what perfect fictional fodder the slow dying of their persistence and their cost — are front and centre in Arcadia, the second novel by American writer Lauren Groff, which depicts the foundation, corruption and, finally, the dissolution of one such community.
The novel opens on a river bank in upstate New York in 1968. While women sing as they wash laundry by a river, a community gathers for the evening, their trucks and buses ‘‘ circled like bison against the wind’’, their leader saluting the sun, naked children darting through the trees on the camp fringes.
It’s a beautiful scene, one that captures the