Book - 1992
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Random House, Inc.

First published in 1516, during a period of astonishing political and technological change, Sir Thomas More's Utopia depicts an imaginary society free of private property, sexual discrimination, violence, and religious intolerance. 

Raphael Hythloday, a philospher and world traveler, describes to the author and his friend an island nation he has visited called Utopia (combining the Greek ou-topos and eu-topos, for "no place" and "good place," respectively).  Hythloday believes the rational social order of the Utopians is far superior to anything in Europe, while his listeners find many of their customs appealing but absurd.  Given the enigmatic ambivalence of the character that More named after himself and the playful Greek puns he sprinkled throughout (including Hythloday's name, which means "knowing nonsense"), it is difficult to know what precisely More meant his readers to make of all the innovations of his Utopia.  But its radical humanism has had an incalculable effect on modern history, and the callenge of its vision is as insistent today as it was in the Renaissance. With an introduction by Jenny Mezciems.

(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)

Baker & Taylor
Presents the English statesman's classic denunciation of sixteenth-century tyranny and corruption, and vision of an ideal society

Blackwell North Amer
One of the most influential books in the Western tradition, Thomas More's Utopia (1516) describes an imaginary island community enjoying perfect social and political harmony. This volume is the first to offer the original English translation of the work in an edition that allows students to explore in depth Utopia's historical and intellectual contexts as well as the circumstances of its reception. Based on Ralph Robynson's revised and corrected 1556 translation, with modernized spelling and extensive annotations, this edition returns students to the voice of the past, allowing them to experience the text as it was first encountered by early modern English readers.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, [1992]
Copyright Date: ©1992
ISBN: 9780679410768
Branch Call Number: 321.07 MORE
Characteristics: xxxi, 144 pages ; 21 cm
Notes: Translated from the Latin


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Jul 17, 2017

Surprisingly quick and easy to read given the age of the text (>400 years). Which is as much a compliment to the translator as the original author. Even the translation was done 50+ years ago.

This book is an object lesson in "the more things change, the more they stay the same". It's divided into two books - the first of which describes the problem with life in most parts of Europe (unequal distribution of both resources and opportunity, systems set up to allow the rich to exploit their power to make themselves even richer at everyone else's expense, excessive punishments for "crimes of the poor", etc.) The second book describes a fictional island nation that has found an alternative way of life that is presented as vastly superior and fairer.

It's really quite disturbing how relevant the first book is to today's society. It does not feel dated at all.

The second book has a few issues that remind you of how long ago it was actually written. Despite being a "perfect society", Utopia is still pretty sexist and sees nothing wrong with slave labour. Its methods of dealing with the "human nature breaks communism" issue are pretty harsh, and I don't know that many people would actually want to live in such a bland place. Still, living in a bland place beats getting hanged for stealing bread to feed your kids because you can't find work.

All things considered, it's amazing to me that these ideas were publicized so very long ago and are still so incredibly relevant today.


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