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Utopia by Thomas More

Utopia (1516)

by Thomas More

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,94176532 (3.55)2 / 174
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English (58)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Hungarian (2)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (76)
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The structure of this edition:

Part I: Introduction by China Mieville
1. Close to the Shore
2. The Limits of Utopia
Part II. UTOPIA by Thomas More
Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
Part III: Essays by Ursula Le Guin
1. A Non- Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be
2. Utopiyin, Utopiayang
3. A War without End
4. Operating Instructions

To mark the 500 year anniversary of Thomas More’s book, I thought I’d finally read it. Or listen to it, as it where (“all Librivox recordings are in the public domain”.) It took a while to get used to the language of Ralph Robinson’s translation from the original Latin. I finally settled into the patterns of lengthy subordinate clauses thanks to Ruth Golding’s English cadences.

This is a frame story, told in dialogues by the author, who had gone to the island of Utopia and talked with those who live there. The book actually begins in our world with a discussion and critique of current day politics, government and issues (i.e. it is just to punish a man with death who steals?)

The word “utopia” has been present in my understanding of perfect, harmonious places undermined with a strong sense of socialism gluing it together. I was surprised that Thomas More’s Utopia lacked a few things, mostly due to my expectations: The balance of gender roles functioning on the island and the fact that they had a military to defend against attacks. I had to remind myself that in the story, this island is located in our real world. The book was pretty fluffy. The driving force that allowed me to get through it was the IDEA OF UTOPIA, that which China Mieville’s introduction reminds us never to forget in his introductory essay, “Close to the Shore”. “Limits of Utopia” waxed heavily on the state of our world environmentally and more or less, politically. LeGuin’s essays were very inspirational. “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be” has been published before and can be found on the web.

3.5 stars Thomas More’s book
5 The introductions and accompanying essays.
( )
  starlight17 | Mar 19, 2019 |
I recall reading this book, or excerpts from this book, many years ago, and finding it oddly interesting, but irrelevant. Now, knowing that Sir/St. Thomas More authorized the burning of six men for heresy, I cannot stomach seeing him described as a Humanist. Yes, despite the Catholic Church's equivocal canonization statement that he was a man limited by the culture of his times. Hmmm...

Maybe I will be able to read this book more objectively, should I live another 20 years. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
He had some great, forwarding thinking ideas about money and government but the book revealed the prejudices of his time. Utopia truly is not attainable until my selfishness is conquered. Long tortured sentences but it was a translation from Latin. ( )
  DonaldPowell | Feb 5, 2019 |
Utopia describes a different Commonwealth lifestyle. Would this lead to happiness? It's tough to say. Read it and see what you think. ( )
  Velmeran | Jan 26, 2019 |
I loved the dialogue in book 1; Raphael is really quite woke. While the structure of Utopia itself was interesting, I would have rather liked a story rather than a textbook explanation. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable. ( )
  Faith_Murri | Jan 5, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (109 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
More, ThomasAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Black, Walter J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Collins, J. ChurtonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
del Pozo, Joan ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deller, JeremyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donnelly, John PatrickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fiore, TommasoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Itkonen-Kaila, MarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jäckel, EberhardAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lumby, J. RawsonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marshall, Peter K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muggeridge, FraserDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prechtl, Michael MathiasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ritter, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodríguez Santidrián, PedroEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, John AnthonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheehan, John F. X.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turner, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Cleve, Hendrick, IIICover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wells, H. G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was recently a rather serious difference of opinion between that great expert in the art of government, His Invincible Majesty, King Henry the Eighth of England, and His Serene Highness, Prince Charles of Castile.
The moment we showed them [the Utopians] some books that Aldus had printed, and talked a bit about printing and paper-making -- we couldn't explain them properly, as none of us knew much about either process -- they immediately made a shrewd guess how the things were done. Up till then they'd only produced skin, bark, or papyrus manuscripts, but now they instantly started to manufacture paper, and print from type. At first they weren't too successful, but after repeated experiments they soon mastered both techniques so thoroughly that, if it weren't for the shortage of original texts, they could have had all the Greek books they wanted.
Well, that's the most accurate account I can give you of the Utopian Republic. To my mind, it's not only the best country in the world, but the only place that has any right to call itself a republic. Elsewhere, people are always talking about the public interest, but all they really care about is private property. In Utopia, where there's no private property, people take their duty to the public seriously. And both attitudes are perfectly reasonable. In other 'republics' practically everyone knows that, if he doesn't look out for himself, he'll starve to death, however prosperous his country may be. He's therefore compelled to give his own interests priority over those of the public; that is, all the other people. But in Utopia, where everything is under public ownership, no one has any fear of going short, as long as the public storehouses are full. Everyone gets a fair share, so there are never any
poor men or beggars. Nobody owns anything, but everyone is rich – for what greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety? Instead of being worried about his food supply,
upset by the plaintive demands of his wife, afraid of poverty for his son, and baffled by the problem of finding a dowry for his daughter, the Utopian can feel absolutely sure that he, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his great-great-grandchildren, and as long a line of descendants as the proudest peer could wish to look forward to, will always have enough to eat and enough to make them happy. There's also the further point that those who are too old to work are just as well provided for as those who are still working.
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Cover description: Sir Thomas More's entertaining description of Utopia, an island supporting a perfectly organized and happy people, was a best-seller when it first appeared in Latin in 1516. This work of a Catholic martyr has later been seen as the source of Anabaptism, Mormonism, and even Communism. Utopia revolutionized Plato's classical blueprint of the perfect republic, mainly by its realism. Locating his island in the (then) New World, More endowed it with a language and poetry, and detailed the length of the working day and even the divorce laws. Such precision gives a disturbing and exciting impact to Utopia, which still remains a book of the future.
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In Utopia Thomas More painted a fantastical picture of a distant island where society is perfected and people live in harmony, yet its title means 'no place', and More's hugely influential work was ultimately an attack on his own corrupt, dangerous times, and on the failings of humanity.… (more)

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Yale University Press

3 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300084293, 0300002386, 0300084285

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141043695, 0141442328

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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