By: Thomas More
Here’s an interesting fact: Thomas More’s Utopia literally invented an entire genre of literature.
He’s not the first to describe the ideal society; Plato, for one, did that in his Republic. And that’s actually a really important point about Utopia: it’s a Renaissance humanist work. The humanists believed in reviving the classics like Plato and taking these ancient Greek ideas and incorporating them into the Christian faith.
So there are Greek references throughout this work.
What’s also interesting is that More’s word utopia derives from ou and topos, which means no place. There’s a deliberate pun on eu and topos, which means good place, which is much more of how we think of the term today.
And that’s kind of how this whole book goes. You never really know how you’re supposed to take it. Is More’s utopia a place we should be striving for, or is it an impossibility he’s satirizing?
The answer is probably a bit of both.
Another tidbit to know about this one: if you know Greek, you’ve got an automatic advantage. And if you don’t know Greek, well, hope you’ve got an annotated version. Because most of More’s jokes can be found in his names.
So if you’re interested in science fiction, if you write science fiction, if you claim that any other utopian work is your favorite, if you just want to understand the genre better, if you want to read a hilarious Renaissance work, or if you want a philosophical read, then grab this one. It’s short, it’s good, it’s witty. You won’t be disappointed.
If you liked Utopia, check out these books:
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Republic by Plato
The Prince by Nicolo Macchiavelli
The Book of the Courtier by Baldesar Castiglione
Blues for Mister Charlie: A Play by James Baldwin
Christy by Catherine Marshall
The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka by Roald Dahl
Plainsong by Kent Haruf