Utopia

By: Thomas More
Fiction
1516
Rating: 4/5

Utopia

Here’s an interesting fact: Thomas More’s Utopia literally invented an entire genre of literature.

All of those utopian/dystopian fiction novels that we’re so fond of (Brave New World, The Hunger Games, Uglies, the list goes on…) all stem from More. He invented the word.

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.

a

*****

a

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

a

Coming up:

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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s