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The Story of Utopias by Lewis Mumford
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The Story of Utopias (1922)

by Lewis Mumford

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In 1922 right after the war, Lewis Mumford wrote his first book, The story of utopias, covering the state of the field up until that time. When the book was reissued in 1962 with a new preface by Mumford, the text was not changed in any way and the new literature on utopia was not added. Yes, things changed in those forty years and in the next forty, but the underlying message remains – in spite of differing world events, man still strives for a perfect world, whether in escape or in reconstructing what is desired.

The book opens with a discussion of utopia, either the eutopia or good place, or the outopia or no place. (Later he discusses kakotopia or bad place, what we might call today dystopia although he never uses that term.) He then discusses the merits of several utopias, among them Plato’s Republic, Andreae’s Christopolis, More’s Utopia, on to Bellamy’s Looking backward and many more. From the beginning simplicity of reconstructing the world order to escape from life’s problems to complex solutions, each has roots in the society for which it was written. He also covers utopian communities in Europe and America, national utopias, and a thoughtful essay on the country house, a theme to which he will return in his later work. In addition to a bibliography, there is also an annotated list of utopias that he has discussed.

It is odd today not to see the two most famous works on utopia, Brave new world and 1984, but we see the precursors in other utopian novels. Yes, there are many more up to date books on the history of utopias but this one has a charm that makes reading it well worth the time. ( )
1 vote fdholt | Jun 7, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670001120, Paperback)

This early work is the first book written by the American historian, philosopher, literary critic and humanist, Lewis Mumford. In The Story of Utopias, Mumford deals with The New Age, socialism, social sciences, mysticism and utopia. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

This early work is the first book written by the American historian, philosopher, literary critic and humanist, Lewis Mumford. In The Story of Utopias, Mumford deals with The New Age, socialism, social sciences, mysticism and utopia.

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