As CS Lewis states “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
Literary representations are to be valued as they arise from a personal and intense artistic response to a particular context expressed in language, both considered and evocative. Therefore these representations not only reflect the values of their time but are of value for all times.
As the first atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945, 100 000 Japanese civilians lost their lives in a single blinding flash. This act was unimaginable, unprecedented and changed the world as we knew it, more importantly changed the way we thought at the time. Morality was compromised, human lives lost their value and entire social paradigms were shifted to accommodate the irrationality and gross inhumanity that was prevalent in World War II. In response to the shifting values of the post-WWII period, Cold War literature is characterised by an intensified questioning of the nature of humanity, human beliefs and values and is imbued with a sense of uncertainty and anxiety. John Hersey’s 1946 journalistic memoir, Hiroshima, Samuel Beckett’s 1956 absurdist play Waiting for Godot, Ken Kesey’s 1962 critique of behaviourism novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Ronald Regan’s Evil empire speech all encapsulate the post-war zeitgeist that suggests disenchantment with the political and religious structures of the time and an increasing anxiety towards the inevitability of death and the lack of humanity in the world. Through different forms they all respond to and captured the fear of mankind destroying itself and thus question the