Thomas More born Feb 1, 1478 passed July 6, 1535. He was a social philosopher, statesman and a renaissance humanist.
This precedes the novel and gave birth to a new way of writing. Think of DeFoe and Swift.
It is important to note it opposed King Henry the VII and was executed for his stance against Henry placing himself as the head of the Church of England. General brief history: King Henry wanted to get divorced, the church said no. He broke away and did what he wanted to do. He also expanded the navy at this time, changed the English constitution and expanded his royal power during this time. He was a spendthrift and engaged in useless wars.
Era: Renaissance Philosophy
Notable work: Utopia written in 1516 (16th century text) It was written in England.
Genre: work of fiction and socio-political satire. It was written in Latin and it is a frame narrative.
Depicts a society and tells of its religious social and political customs.
Socialism written about in this book is where we first see ideas of socialism and will later be co-opted and repurposed in Marxist theories a
The Great Caliban: The Struggle Against the Rebel Body
Created an entire genre, Utopian Fiction
It is a frame narrative showcasing the customs.
The key word I thought of quite often while reading this work was the idea of cultural capital and the emphasis placed on work. In particular the notion of the display of wealth being repugnant. This could be a direct scorn towards the time where wealth was a sign of status. Even now we display our wealth. Whereas someone who works and is a part of their society is deemed as valuable.
More opposed the Protestant Reformation and opposed the kinds separation from the Catholic Church he refused to acknowledge King Henry as the head of the church.
Fun Facts: Hythloday is a man who is said to speak Greek and some Latin, his name also means speaker of nonsense. Utopia is also a mashing of words, Eutopia (good place) and Outopia (no place).
Book 1 in Utopia serves as an introduction to book 2.
It seems there is a debate whether More intended this book to be satire for or against socialism.
BOOK 1 SUMMARY:
The book begins when More, an ambassador for England and King Henry the VII travels to Antwerp. He spends time talking to his friend Peter Giles, who introduces him to Raphael Hythloday, who is a philosopher and world traveler. The three men meet and Hythloday recounts his adventures over dinner.
He spends time recounting tales of various societies he has visited. Hythloday discusses his discontent with European societies, with their excessive spending, their wars, the state of the people, and the ways in which criminals are punished. He believes the state of Europe is shameful compared to the Utopian states. Because of his stance Giles and More believe he would be a great advisor to kings, a claim Hythloday denies, citing that his ideas are too controversial.
BOOK 2 SUMMARY:
It follows the travels of Hythloday, which are linked to the voyages taken by Amerigo Vespucci. He claims to have spent 6 months in Cabo Frio, and then he finds himself on the island of Utopia, where he spends 5 years. The island itself is about 200 miles across with a 15-mile channel was created to separate it from the mainland.
The island itself is comprised of 54 cities and each city is divided into 4 equal parts. Each city is limited to 6000 households and has no more than 10-16 adults living in a house. If a city is lacking in families, people can be moved to help fill that cities needs. In cases of overpopulation they move over to the mainland. Mainlanders are given the opportunity to join the Utopia.
They use a election to choose a representative and the representatives elect a Prince to overrule them. This position is for life unless he is disposed or is revealed to be a tyrant.
The island is shared equally, no private property and all goods are shared. On the island of Utopia there is no such thing as privacy, as there are no locks and essentially you own no property because you move to a new house every 10 years.
For occupation, every citizen participates in Agriculture and must also learn another trade: weaving carpentry, metalsmithing and masonry. All able-bodied citizens must work, and it is for 6 hours. People do occupy positions such as priests. They are usually picked for their knack of education.
Everyone wears the same clothes and there are no fine clothes or jewelry to be had here. The display of wealth is considered to be vulgar. Gold is community wealth and they use it for things such as chamber pots or shackling their slaves.
Slavery is apart of life in Utopia, usually it is individuals from other countries or criminals. You can be released for good behavior. Having premarital sex or committing adultery or visiting another state without the proper identification can cause you to become a slave in Utopia.
Children are decked with jewelry and as the child gets older, they are encouraged to give it up.
Gold is used to trade with other communities, but they have no use for it since everything is shared.
It is a welfare state with free hospitals and euthanasia is permissible, you can divorce.
Freedom of religion is permissible.
They distance themselves from war but will aide their allies.
Text in genre: You can see the influence it lays for Marxist theories and also the utopian genre that comes after it, the formation of the worlds is quite interesting.
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