Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Stephen Vincent Benét's By the Waters of Babylon. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Waters of Babylon: Introduction
Waters of Babylon: Plot Summary
Waters of Babylon: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Waters of Babylon: Themes
Waters of Babylon: Quotes
Waters of Babylon: Characters
Waters of Babylon: Symbols
Waters of Babylon: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Stephen Vincent Benét
Historical Context of By the Waters of Babylon
Other Books Related to By the Waters of Babylon
- Full Title: By the Waters of Babylon
- When Written: 1937
- Where Written: United States of America
- When Published: The story appeared in the July 31, 1937 issue of The Saturday Evening Post as “The Place of the Gods,” and was first published under the title “By the Waters of Babylon” in The Pocket Book of Science Fiction in 1943.
- Literary Period: Modernist Literature/ Lost Generation
- Genre: Short story, Speculative fiction, Post-apocalyptic fiction
- Setting: Upstate New York and New York City (referred to as the “Place of the Gods” or “newyork”) in a post-apocalyptic, post-technological world.
- Climax: John finds the remains of the “dead god” and realizes that the gods were, in fact, an earlier, technologically advanced human society.
- Point of View: First person limited
Extra Credit for By the Waters of Babylon
Benét’s Fears for the Future. In the years leading up to WWII, Benét grew increasingly alarmed by the rise of fascism in Europe. His fears for the future of democratic society inspired him to write the poetry collection Burning City. Published in 1936, the poems offer a nightmarish vision of a world where technology has turned against humans and society is embroiled in a political and moral crisis.