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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations Tablet and e-reader formatted Original & Unabridged Edition Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic Bestselling Novel Short Biography is also included Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction A utopia is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfe How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations Tablet and e-reader formatted Original & Unabridged Edition Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic Bestselling Novel Short Biography is also included Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction A utopia is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities. The word was coined by Sir Thomas More in Greek for his 1516 book Utopia (in Latin), describing a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create an ideal society, and imagined societies portrayed in fiction. It has spawned other concepts, most prominently dystopia.


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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations Tablet and e-reader formatted Original & Unabridged Edition Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic Bestselling Novel Short Biography is also included Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction A utopia is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfe How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations Tablet and e-reader formatted Original & Unabridged Edition Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic Bestselling Novel Short Biography is also included Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction A utopia is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities. The word was coined by Sir Thomas More in Greek for his 1516 book Utopia (in Latin), describing a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create an ideal society, and imagined societies portrayed in fiction. It has spawned other concepts, most prominently dystopia.

30 review for Utopia: By Thomas More - Illustrated (Bonus Free Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    As the centuries roll by, more and more books are written about Utopian societies that should be established on Earth, but the few actually tried... fail. Sir Thomas or Saint Thomas More, depending on your affiliation, Utopia , ( greatly influenced by Plato's The Republic) is a satire about tumultuous English politics published in 1516. Raphael Hythloday a Portuguese traveler when Portugal ruled the seas with a very unlikely name for a native of that country. He recites the story of his life, ha As the centuries roll by, more and more books are written about Utopian societies that should be established on Earth, but the few actually tried... fail. Sir Thomas or Saint Thomas More, depending on your affiliation, Utopia , ( greatly influenced by Plato's The Republic) is a satire about tumultuous English politics published in 1516. Raphael Hythloday a Portuguese traveler when Portugal ruled the seas with a very unlikely name for a native of that country. He recites the story of his life, has visited many nations in the world but none which effected him so much like his five- year stay on Utopia. The interested listeners are Sir Thomas More and his friend Belgian Peter Giles, both historical figures, a strange tale unfolds, can the two others believe him? The island republic of Utopia is apparently somewhere in the south Atlantic but never fully disclosed its exact location, where people work only six hours a day, choose their own leaders, despise gold and silver, wear the same type of clothes and no private property, however all their needs the state provides, maybe not living lavishly , yet comfortably, Raphael views all this in the capital, Aircastle . Although they have slaves, mostly criminals and some soldiers captured in war, Utopians seldom fight for themselves hiring foreign mercenaries. This was just another barbarous place until a man named Utopus, conquered it during ancient times, he ordered the digging of a large trench and turning a huge peninsula into an island, letting the sea through, which isolated Utopia from the chaos of the mainland. Organizing an unique republic where everyone works, and education continues all their lives in neat, clean, small cities looking admittedly like all the rest on the isle, when the population grows to an unmanageable number, new colonies are formed in foreign territories . Nonetheless a couple of days a month the inhabitants go to farms and help out, nobody is above getting their hands dirty. Healthcare is free and old people are always provided for in this peaceful land of equality...if you are a citizen. Thomas More knew his ideas were impractical but he wanted to give hope to the poor and oppressed , show the world a better way to live, the imbalance of society had to change or hunger, violence and war would follow, 500 years later the planet has not progressed, the foul not gone away. Regardless the future is very long and humans are an adaptable species.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Thomas More's life blah blah feudalism, in which virtually all power resided with enormous white ducks while the peasants had to wear roller skates even in bed. The late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries blah blah Renaissance, a flowering of platform heel shoes and massive shagging blah blah Italy blah blah large glands. Aspects of this blah blah the ducks. Blah blah discovery of smaller ducks, at first denied by Pope Barbary VII. Vasco da Gama proved ducks were American not from Byzantium Thomas More's life blah blah feudalism, in which virtually all power resided with enormous white ducks while the peasants had to wear roller skates even in bed. The late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries blah blah Renaissance, a flowering of platform heel shoes and massive shagging blah blah Italy blah blah large glands. Aspects of this blah blah the ducks. Blah blah discovery of smaller ducks, at first denied by Pope Barbary VII. Vasco da Gama proved ducks were American not from Byzantium. Humanists emphasized the dignity of all reasonably large men, their thought and writings and their halfway-impressive private parts. Blah blah Scots Porridge Oats blah blah Erasmus not a duck, Leonardo partly a duck, John Knox almost entirely duck. They saw feudal society as irrational, consisting of small piles of nondescript rubbish, but adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit (add a little to a little and you get a great flooking heap – Hovis, “Second Dialogue Concerning the Scrofula”). With the Reformation, the face of Europe was warped by intense mascara and facial tattooing. England was no exception; protestants continuously blah blah until it almost fell off. Then the English King Eider VIII, blah blah Pope blah blah roll me over lay me down and do it again. More (feathered in the right arm and lower back only) wrote Utopia in 1516, just before the outbreak of the second game of Football. Utopia, originally written in Latin and later translated into Latin, depicts what its narrator Sir Dakota Fanning claimed to be an ideal human society. The book was a huge success, so at least the author’s life became a whole lot more ideal, if you know what I mean. He was now able to afford to prove the famous old saying amare et sapere vix deo conceditur (even the wise find shagging essentially ludicrous - Horace, "Third Dialogue Concerning the Proper Disposition of Horses").

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Review FYI - Read years ago, wrote review in college... Thomas More was the first to coin the word “utopia.” More was the son of a court judge, and a page to Archbishop Morton throughout his youth in London. He was profoundly affected not only by these two great gentlemen, but also by the philosophy of humanism that was spread by Erasmus during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe. As a result of More’s fanatical advocacy of socialism and communism, he was tried, and later Review FYI - Read years ago, wrote review in college... Thomas More was the first to coin the word “utopia.” More was the son of a court judge, and a page to Archbishop Morton throughout his youth in London. He was profoundly affected not only by these two great gentlemen, but also by the philosophy of humanism that was spread by Erasmus during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe. As a result of More’s fanatical advocacy of socialism and communism, he was tried, and later executed on July 6th, 1535, at the age fifty-seven. Sir Thomas More is studied today as a leader of Renaissance literature in England because of his famous work Utopia, which was published in 1516. In his work, More creates an ideal society on an imaginary island in strange waters. The word “utopia” is best translated from the Greek as “a place that can never be” because a “utopia” is a perfect society; however, More was simply using this perfect society to satirize life in London during that time period. He was not proposing a solution to England’s ills. Before Thomas More began writing his masterpiece, he was privileged to read several other works, which enabled him to write Utopia. Plato’s Republic, St. Augustine’s City of God, and the stories about Paradise and The Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis profoundly influenced More. He was also inspired by several Renaissance reports he received from the Portuguese-owned “New World.” All of these influences led More “to confront all the serious evils of his day, religious, social, and political, but he considered philosophically their remedy, and that in a manner far in advance of the period at which he wrote… Utopia has been interpreted to condone every kind of political theory directed to the transference of power and wealth to self-styled reformers” (Warrington xii). More wanted to reform the society that he lived in; however, it was next to impossible to reform a society that had already been set in its ways. According to Thomas I. White, “More’s Utopia has been aptly described as a work that can be read in an evening but may take a lifetime to understand. One reason for this is that the book is built on the intellectual equivalent of a geological fault. The simple landscape suggested by Utopia’s structure and conception belies subterranean forces that push and pull the book in different directions. The resulting tensions may not lead to earthquakes, but they certainly erupt in dramatically different interpretations of More’s little classic” (White 37). Thus, it is difficult to know what More’s intentions were in writing Utopia. Per Chad Walsh, noted critic and interpreter of utopian societies, “a utopia is often an oblique satire on the writer’s own society, though it need not be. It can represent simply his attempt to conceive of a perfect society… More offered Utopia as a guide to the improvement of an England that badly needed it. He wished to show that poverty, crime, cruel punishments, and invidious distinctions between classes are not in the order of nature, but are man’s doing, and that man could equally create a just and happy social order” (Walsh 26). He was offering one or two suggestions, but at the same time, he was also satirizing the foolish thoughts of some philosophers and politicians of the day. Yet, critics to this day have continually debated whether More’s Utopia was a satire on the way in which London society operated, or whether it was what he truly felt London society should try to mirror. One can agree, despite whatever contradictions there are to those who claim More’s Utopia was a satire, that England definitely needed some guidance during this period. It seems that More’s Utopia was read as a solution, though it was only meant to be a satire that had some valuable ideas. While an ideal society seems to be the best solution to England’s problems, one cannot help but ponder why men would dream utopian dreams. “Man is an animal with an imagination; he can conceive of things that do not yet exist, [and] may never exist. Man has the curious and awesome ability to transcend himself and nature… There is also the theory that man once lived in a utopia, but does no longer, and that he is always trying to return. The name of this first utopia was Eden” (Walsh 29). It does not seem that whether or not man already lived in a utopia, or is simply wishing to live in one now, is the central thesis of More’s satire. The important questions still remain: How is Utopia a satire on English society? Is More merely showing men what he believes is the best way to rid London of its problems? Richard Marius has the answer. “More could not have created an ideal society with so many flaws that affronted liberal imagination. More had truly intended to cast Utopia as a dystopia, not a good place but a bad place, one where rule of reason had obliterated the gentler human virtues” (Marius 11). Although there were several seemingly perfect solutions throughout the contents of Utopia, it was not a ten-step program for London society during the sixteenth century. “Utopia [is] viewed as a prototype of the obverse genre, the dystopia. The paradigm More created simply lent itself ideally to satire, because the distance between his imaginary society and the society in which he lived enabled him to contrast the two” (Fox 12). “It is not a blueprint but a touchstone against which we try various ideas about both our times and the books to see what then comes of it all” (Marius 12). More’s work was indeed a satire on the many men who continually dreamed of living in a utopian society. He saw where English society was in comparison to where other countries and civilizations were, and knew that he had to create a society that would give its people ideas, but not build the specifics of the said society for them. Therefore, Utopia was merely a suggestion of ideas (one or two, not as an entirety) that could be conceived as helpful, tolerable and ideal. In fact, “More’s own society was rigidly hierarchical and highly regulated, so Utopia may not have seemed as restrictive to him as it does to us. Thus, it is easy to understand why a writer would want to satirize a bad commonwealth” (Logan 8). In satirizing this commonwealth, More was simply presenting a society that was so perfect that it could not truly exist; however, people enjoy reading about ideal utopias because it gives them some kind of hope for the future. “It shows the best society not as a normative or prescriptive model but as actually achieved, as already in existence. Utopia is a description of the best (or, in anti-utopia, the worst) society not as an abstract ideal, and not simply as a satirical foil to the existing society in full operation in which we are invited vicariously to participate” (Kumar 25). “More published Utopia for the purpose of showing… the things that occasion mischief in commonwealths; having the English Constitution in view. The island of Utopia is, in fact, England. More designed [it] to show how England would look, and what shape her relations with abroad would assume, if she were communistically organized” (Kautsky 14). By participating in this communistic utopia, More is able to present a few suggestions, as well as ridiculous (meant to be taken as jocular, and nothing else) ideas, all the while discussing his semi-radical viewpoints on three major issues. The three specific aspects of utopian life that Sir Thomas More attacked in this satire were communism/socialism, religion and marriage/family. More’s own socialistic outlook on society dates back to when he was arrested and executed for his beliefs. Richard Marius tells readers “ I believe that the answer to the questions in More’s own mind [about socialism] was not that we should create a communist society. But [he does] believe that part of the response that More intended was to make us at least ask the questions, for to question society is to see it, and we must see it before we can do anything to reform it” (Marius 5). Since their leader Utopus basically imposed communism upon the Utopians, one can assume that More was studying the idea that a communistic society is indeed the solution for London society. He was not suggesting this, but merely saying that the equality offered amongst a socialistic society would provide stability. More does include a section on how the Utopians change their houses every decade so that no one person gets accustomed to a higher standard than another; however, the houses are exactly identical according to the section on The Geography of Utopia. Marius later notes that “The communism of the utopia deserves another word to this generation that has seen this once mighty ideology crumble to dust in most places where it once seemed imperial, irresistible and eternal. I’ve [also] noted that the Utopians acted on the premise that to eliminate poverty, the entire economic and social order had to be radically rebuilt from the ground up. That was precisely the view of Karl Marx, but More and Marx came to radically different conclusions about what the social order would be if it were rebuilt” (Marius 8). The idea of rebuilding the entire society from scratch comes along by way of Utopus, who senses that again, equality amongst the people can only be achieved when things are created from originality, not from existing lands. Unless man rebuilds everything he owns, there can be no sense of justice. Similar in the ideas of socialism and communism, man must work together to bring about the overwhelming outpouring of parity. Thus, More is not suggesting that communism is the only way to go - the “be-all, end-all” answer to the problems in London society; he is satirizing the idea that everything has to be destroyed (and rebuilt) in order to gain fairness and equality. London society was still heavily distinct amongst classes at the time. Marius writes that “to the middle-class people like ourselves, our messy and fragmented society looks good in comparison to Utopia. Here, More’s Augustinian conception of sinful humankind becomes burdensome to the soul, for in the Utopian commonwealth, individualism and privacy are threats to the state. I suspect that we see as clearly as anyone does in Utopia just why communism did not work. The weight of human depravity was simply too much to be balanced by eliminating private property” (Marius 5). A communistic society that contains laws saying that private property is not allowed in society will never last long. People have an inner need to own something, and More is pointing this out in Utopia; he laughs at those who want to take everything away from the people of English society. He basically tells the readers that if such a thing were to occur, they should beware of an outbreak of war. He concludes by showing how much the Utopians are afraid of war. Exactly. They are so afraid of war that it is necessary to have such a militaristic society with communism at the helm in their society; however, it would not work in London society. According to Kenyon, “More argues [that] men could attain salvation only if temptation were first to be removed. Given this, it was evident to More that social institutions required radical emendation. Consequently, in Utopia, More is to be discovered proposing a series of alternative arrangements such as communism which, he hoped, might remove the temptation of sinfulness presented by existing institutions such as private property” (Kenyon 54). More thought that some of the socialistic views would work in English society, but he knew that London was not ready for an overhaul. He thus satirized what it would be like if England were communistic. There would not be a single freedom such as private property. Just as communism was a seriously discussed issue as one solution for a utopian society, so were the fundamental laws of religion. “More posits in Utopia a set of social institutions designed to reduce temptation, limit available choices, and channel the will in a requisite direction. The question of whether by living under such constraining institutions individuals nevertheless exercise free will is not developed by More to the extent that it might be” (Kenyon 58). Thus free will , as in the free will to choose whatever religion you want to follow, is a prime target for satire in this work. At the time when More lived, there were many ongoing debates over Puritanism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. “The discussion of religion presented in Utopia generates a problem not least because we are informed that although they do not subscribe to full-fledged sixteenth-century Catholicism, the Utopians follow a religion that in terms both of its doctrines and its externals maintains several important prescriptive recommendations relevant to the salvation of Christians” (Kenyon 97). In Utopia, all can practice a religion of any form that they wish. They are required only to attend a church service, which operates in the same manner as a college campus mass does. All of those that attend can take from the service what they wish to since there is no one supreme denomination in the city of Utopia. After More’s struggles with a corrupt church, no wonder he would satirize his experience with religion. “In all [of] these ways, More showed himself, and his Utopia, to be the product of a new age. His Utopia has a rationalism and a realism that we associate typically with the classical revival of the Renaissance, and that are to be found equally in the architectural utopias of fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italy… Utopia is a fiction whereby the truth, as if smeared with honey, might a little more pleasantly slide into men’s minds” (Kumar 21). More cast his utopian society as one in which life was perfect and ideal, thus it had to be considered satirical since there is no such thing as perfection. By sugarcoating his views and ideas, he was able to create a utopian land that affected humankind more than he expected. He could show mankind how foolish their thoughts were on trying to perfect and correct everything that was wrong with society. A little error can sometimes keep things more in balance. If everything and everyone were perfect, what would man have to strive for? More was simply presenting a satirical solution to society that he never meant to assume the role of the “be-all, end-all” problem-solver.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    The term 'utopia' in the way we use it today, to refer to an ideal but unattainable state, comes from this book, which More wrote in 1516. The form is political critique disguised as fantasy disguised as travelogue. More casts himself as the recorder of Raphael Hythloday's travels to the island of Utopia, where, despite their lack of Christianity, the people are closer to realizing the Christian ideal society through rational government than Europe ever was. Today serious criticism doesn't have The term 'utopia' in the way we use it today, to refer to an ideal but unattainable state, comes from this book, which More wrote in 1516. The form is political critique disguised as fantasy disguised as travelogue. More casts himself as the recorder of Raphael Hythloday's travels to the island of Utopia, where, despite their lack of Christianity, the people are closer to realizing the Christian ideal society through rational government than Europe ever was. Today serious criticism doesn't have to move under such elaborate cover, so our first impulse might be to read it like an escapist fantasy novel. But the book is really a counterpoint to the autocratic statesmanship (waning feudalism) outlined in Machiavelli's The Prince (written a few years earlier) and the new economic relations of enclosure (rising capitalism) emerging in England at the time. Think of it as a sequel to Plato's Republic and an inspiration for Swift's Gulliver's Travels. More asks: what if money and private property were abolished? Almost 500 years later it remains an interesting question. The book is also, though short, full of wit and imaginative scenarios. On every page!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    Interesting, mostly just because it's cool to see what people (or at least Thomas More) considered to be an ideal society back then. Because really, it isn't. There's a lot that I thought was really strange about Utopia (Latin for "no place"), but here's what I remember most: when parents are considering marrying their children off, they have the two teenagers stand naked in front of each other (accompanied by dependable chaperones, of course) so they can make sure neither of them has any weird Interesting, mostly just because it's cool to see what people (or at least Thomas More) considered to be an ideal society back then. Because really, it isn't. There's a lot that I thought was really strange about Utopia (Latin for "no place"), but here's what I remember most: when parents are considering marrying their children off, they have the two teenagers stand naked in front of each other (accompanied by dependable chaperones, of course) so they can make sure neither of them has any weird deformities or anything. Logical on paper, I guess, but what I wondered was, what happens if the marriage negotiations fell through? Did these two people occasionally run into each other at the market, make brief eye contact, and then quickly run away, pretending they didn't know what the other looked like naked? I just think that would be all kinds of awkward. Read for: Early British Literature

  6. 4 out of 5

    Florencia

    This book was published in 1516 and it's divided into two parts. The first one made my eyes feel exhausted, so I can sum up all that just by saying that More found his friend Peter and this one introduced him to a fella named Raphael, a man who visited several countries to satisfy his desire to see the world. He shared some opinions of the political scenario of his time (a bit familiar; whether you are talking about yesterday's kingdoms or today's democratic governments, some things never change This book was published in 1516 and it's divided into two parts. The first one made my eyes feel exhausted, so I can sum up all that just by saying that More found his friend Peter and this one introduced him to a fella named Raphael, a man who visited several countries to satisfy his desire to see the world. He shared some opinions of the political scenario of his time (a bit familiar; whether you are talking about yesterday's kingdoms or today's democratic governments, some things never change) and talked about some general aspects of this awesome island called Utopia. The other two guys couldn't believe that such a land could subsist, since it was a place where, for instance, private property didn't exist. A million words and a couple of eyelashes later, Raphael started to talk specifically about Utopia: all things relating to their soil, their rivers, their towns, their people, their manners, constitution, laws... And here I stop. Laws. This society has few laws. Why? They very much condemn other nations whose laws, together with the commentaries on them, swell up to so many volumes; for they think it an unreasonable thing to oblige men to obey a body of laws that are both of such a bulk and so dark as not to be read and understood by every one of the subjects. That last line seems to have been quite a source of ideas to the great Kafka. And I agree: laws should be simpler, everybody should be able to understand them; and that bureaucracy that sucks life out of people should be eradicated, etc., etc. And so did the Utopians: few laws and, of course, no lawyers. (…) they consider them as a sort of people whose profession it is to disguise matters and to wrest the laws; and therefore they think it is much better that every man should plead his own cause, and trust it to the judge... By this means they both cut off many delays. Ignore this paragraph. I need to vent and I am going to hide it for your own good. (view spoiler)[Well, More, this is a bit irritating. It's not my fault that we have a collapsed legal system, I'm not the one who spends a month signing one freaking paper! [email protected]#$% bastards that after two months they give you one lousy answer while the moron that also had to study tons of books for five [email protected]#$% years (and has to watch those laws being violated just like that) has to answer to the client and try to explain why the freaking process is taking like five years of his/her LIFE, DAMN IT. (hide spoiler)] Breathe. Excellent. Anyway, this is a book about an ideal land, a pagan place. Saint Thomas' perfect society was one that worshiped the sun or the moon or believed in a Supreme Being. A society ruled by reason had to believe in something. People who didn't believe in the afterlife, commonly known as atheists, were considered beasts because they rejected a state of rewards and punishments to the good and bad people after life on earth. So, such a human being who is not afraid of anything but the laws is more likely to break them to satisfy his appetites... Not a warm and fuzzy land for the non-believers. It has to be said, Utopians despised atheists and treated them like animals and forbade them ranks and honors and stuff, however, they did not punish them in order to avoid hypocrisy: so that men are not tempted to lie or disguise their opinions . Not that bad, huh? As I said, this was a perfect place with no private property, with slavery (adulterers, watch out), with few laws and where everyone was happy with no legal problems to solve (yup, More, being a great lawyer himself, apparently wasn't a big fan of lawyers... sly creature!). Suddenly, a disturbing image comes to mind: Jokes aside, this is an interesting book to read with a lot of coffee in your system. A man imagined what a perfect country should be like, and yes, it is not that perfect. This book started a bit slow for me, but then it got better. I would recommend this to people who enjoy history, otherwise you can drink all the coffee Colombia has to offer, but you still won't reach page 5. Dec 24, 13 * Also on my blog. ** Photo credit: Gif from The Simpsons by Matt Groening / via Giphy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    Published in 1516 and originally written in Latin, Utopia is a framed narrative depicting a life on a fictional island. It is often described as sociological and political satire. Utopia is one of those books that one reads for educational purposes. I did find it enjoyable, but it is definitely more an educational read. I mean I cannot say that Utopia is a particularly entertaining book to read. It is interesting, but let's face it, not really a page-turner this one, right? Not surprisingly, I f Published in 1516 and originally written in Latin, Utopia is a framed narrative depicting a life on a fictional island. It is often described as sociological and political satire. Utopia is one of those books that one reads for educational purposes. I did find it enjoyable, but it is definitely more an educational read. I mean I cannot say that Utopia is a particularly entertaining book to read. It is interesting, but let's face it, not really a page-turner this one, right? Not surprisingly, I found Utopia to be interesting primarily from a historical point of view. In addition, I find the act of writing Utopian literature as something that is worth thinking about. (Questions that come to my mind. Why do human being have this desire for creating Utopia? Why have all our efforts to create it failed miserably?) So, yes it is definitely an interesting book, the kind that can make one think.It is more playful in tone that in might seem at first. It might be boring to some, but if you're interested in literature, classics or this particular historical period, you might find it interesting. I actually found Thomas More ideas to be somewhat revolutionary for his time and original. Some of his thinking was unexpected and hence alluring. Although, I must say that many of More's suggestions for improving society are unrealistic and well just plain silly. All in all, I liked Utopia and I don't regret reading it. In some ways I found it to be fascinating, but then again I was (well still I'm) interested in how a mind of Renaissance or humanistic thinker worked, so if you're not you might not enjoy this as much. On the other hand, If you're interested in Renaissance or Utopian literature, this could be a great educational read for you. In my opinion, one of the best ways to get a real feel of a certain historical period, you should read as many literal works from that time, even if they're not great literature or super interesting. To conclude, this is a great educational read. Not a great work of classical literature, but a fascinating book nevertheless.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Not a book that I can recommend for enjoyment, masterful prose or good storytelling. Rather I think the value in reading is to see the backwardness of a Utopia envisioned by Thomas More, an ‘enlightened’ man for the times. Of course it is easy to be judgmental about his writings when looking in the rearview mirror at a book nearly 500 years old. More, a high level adviser to King Henry VIII envisions an island nation, ‘Utopia’ where they don’t engage in wars and where there is a great deal of dis Not a book that I can recommend for enjoyment, masterful prose or good storytelling. Rather I think the value in reading is to see the backwardness of a Utopia envisioned by Thomas More, an ‘enlightened’ man for the times. Of course it is easy to be judgmental about his writings when looking in the rearview mirror at a book nearly 500 years old. More, a high level adviser to King Henry VIII envisions an island nation, ‘Utopia’ where they don’t engage in wars and where there is a great deal of discussion on commerce, judges, absence of lawyers, the importance of slaves and how in tough cases a fair prince is the final arbiter. Catholicism is the way forward. Women have no rights. And so on. More’s writing is unimaginative by modern standards, most middle schoolers today could come up with better utopias if given an assignment. To be fair, More applied a more pragmatic lens to his Utopia. But when compared with Shakespeare’s writings that came out half a century later there isn’t much imagination here. 3 stars. A quick read that has some genuine historical value and came from someone who is acknowledged as a supreme intellect for his time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    This is another book that I had to read because the title become a word in English...I liked the fact that Thomas More was looking for solutions; solutions we are still looking for in this age of globalization - when every country has their own utopian vision. Perhaps that is the "utopian paradox" - how can we all live in peace with differing definitions of utopianism?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lynne King

    Painful like pulling teeth...An experience not to be repeated.

  11. 5 out of 5

    El

    (I read this book as part of a reading project I have undertaken with some other nerdy friends in which we read The Novel: A Biography and some of the other texts referenced by Schmidt.) In 1516, some guy called Thomas More put out this little book describing a fictional place called Utopia. What kills me about this little book is that More wrote it in Latin. Latin. I can barely write in English most days. So this island of Utopia shows a completely organized society where everyone seems to be exc (I read this book as part of a reading project I have undertaken with some other nerdy friends in which we read The Novel: A Biography and some of the other texts referenced by Schmidt.) In 1516, some guy called Thomas More put out this little book describing a fictional place called Utopia. What kills me about this little book is that More wrote it in Latin. Latin. I can barely write in English most days. So this island of Utopia shows a completely organized society where everyone seems to be exceptionally happy, and I don't even believe drugs were involved. I mean, I'm not sure what else to say about the "plot" that people don't already know, even if one hasn't read the book. We all have heard of the concept of a "utopia", and a bunch of people after him have written their own versions, and a lot of times they're super boring because when people wax philosophical about the way they wish things were, it usually turns into this emotionless list of pros with very few cons. More somehow avoids this by creating this narrative between himself and some dude named Raphael who describes this place, Utopia, to More. Maybe that's also a cop-out, a pathetic way for More (who was no angel, by the way) to say "I want all this to happen, but I don't have the stones to say it, so I'll pretend like this other guy told me about it, and then I don't have to really do anything." There's that option. Or there's this other option, since we're talking about the evolution of the novel and all, that More wrote a fictional account to build this world that he imagined, and he did it without just telling a traditional story. I've just read Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Virginia Woolf's Orlando somewhat recently, two other books that play with style - in the former, a fake autobiography; in the latter, a fake biography. And here, in Utopia, we have a fake... what... travelogue? Sure, why not. Much like Sir Mandeville in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. I mean, who really thinks today that Mandeville met people in another country whose faces were on their chest between their shoulders? I look at Utopia in a similar light. A friend asked in a thread about this whether or not I thought this was a work of satire. That was a great question, and one I hadn't considered while reading. (Let me preface this by saying I don't read satire well. Somehow satire just sort of falls flat for me, or I don't recognize it all.) I don't think More necessarily meant for this to be a satire. I also don't believe he was saying this is how he hoped society would be one day, or that there would be any real benefit to this. I felt it was just a story he was telling, one that may not have right or wrong answers, but he'd throw it all out there for the reader to decide for themselves. I think we all have a concept of a utopian society in our heads, but if we actually shared those thoughts with others, more likely than not someone else would say "No way, that's ridiculous and I would think x or y would be horrible." My version of utopia may not be your version, and vice versa. (Though my utopia has a lot of puppies and books and burritos; what could possibly be wrong with all of that? Unless you're allergic to puppies... you get my point.) I found this an interesting read, and super quick. I had in my mind this would be a difficult read, or take me a while. But that's probably because I read this right after Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur which took me months to read, and here's another 16th-century book, and guh, what if it takes another couple of months... so I was a bit nervous going into it. I'm happy to say, however, that it read quickly and I found it enjoyable. Even the comments that should be offensive (like the bit about the pregnant women being sick all the time) felt more tongue-in-cheek than More saying pregnant women repulsed him. Or maybe I was just so happy to be done with stupid Malory that nothing More said could be wrong. Next up: The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, Sir Philip Sidney

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    You wouldn't abandon ship in a storm just because you couldn't control the winds. -- Thomas More, Utopia After reading Hilary Mantel's amazing first two Booker-prizing winning books of her Henry VIII trilogy (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies), I felt I needed to actually bust into Thomas More's Utopia. How could I consider myself educated and not have at least tasted a bit of More's utopian ideal, his veiled criticisms of European culture and values, and his unobtainable vision of the ideal soci You wouldn't abandon ship in a storm just because you couldn't control the winds. -- Thomas More, Utopia After reading Hilary Mantel's amazing first two Booker-prizing winning books of her Henry VIII trilogy (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies), I felt I needed to actually bust into Thomas More's Utopia. How could I consider myself educated and not have at least tasted a bit of More's utopian ideal, his veiled criticisms of European culture and values, and his unobtainable vision of the ideal society? At times Utopia seems overdone/overripe, like even More wasn't buying his own brand of guiding, noble principles. Still, Utopia works because it is playful and ironic. I'm not sure I would view it as great (to me it doesn't measure up to either Plato's The Republic or Swift's Gulliver's Travels), but I do believe the interaction between More's brand of political idealism with Cromwell's ruthless pragmatism, ended up creating in England something really GREAT.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mahdy

    Thomas More is traveling in the Low Countries when he sees his friend, Peter Giles. Giles introduces him to a well-traveled friend of his, Raphael Hythloday. Raphael speaks of many countries and their policies and laws, and freely criticizes the laws of their own countries.He then begins speaking of a country, Utopia, which he thinks is ruled very well and is a perfect country. More begs Raphael to speak more of Utopia, and he does. He first tells of their towns, which are all as identical as poss Thomas More is traveling in the Low Countries when he sees his friend, Peter Giles. Giles introduces him to a well-traveled friend of his, Raphael Hythloday. Raphael speaks of many countries and their policies and laws, and freely criticizes the laws of their own countries.He then begins speaking of a country, Utopia, which he thinks is ruled very well and is a perfect country. More begs Raphael to speak more of Utopia, and he does. He first tells of their towns, which are all as identical as possible, and have a maximum of 6,000 families. He then speaks of their magistrates, who are called Philarchs, and are chosen every year by thirty families. An Archphilarch overlooks every ten Philarchs. The Utopians' manner of life is unusual, as gold is of no value, and everything is therefore free. Also, they spend their lives in the city and in the suburbs, living in each place for two years at a time. Laws dictate that they are not to travel without a 'passport', which can only be obtained from the Prince and states where and for how long they are allowed to travel. Slaves and marriages are spoken of next. Prisoners of war are not taken as slaves, unless they fought in the battles; women are not to be married before eighteen, and men before twenty-two. Sexual encounters before marriage are prohibited, as are polygamy and adultery. There are no lawyers in Utopia, as everybody defends himself or herself in court. Their military discipline is such that everyone trains for the army on a daily basis, however, the Utopians prefer to hire armies rather than to let their own people go to war, and as money does not matter much to them they can do this without much discomfort. Women are encouraged to join their husbands at war. Religion is the last topic that is spoken of, and there are many religions in Utopia, as people are free to practice whatever they believe. However, the law states that they must all believe in one Divine Being and that they are forbidden to believe that the human's soul dies with his body. Raphael speaks of the way the country and the people deal with the issues and problems associated with each of these topics, and how we could learn from them and their wisdom.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    In a classic what-was-I-thinking moment, I purchased “Utopia,” a 600-year-old book billed on Amazon as a “…fiction and socio-political satire.” I am two-thirds of the way through the book, and I am guessing that satire meant something else in the early 1500s. The book actually reads as a long-winded, mostly one-sided conversation, almost like reading ancient philosophy. As I plowed further and further into the book, I began to create furrows of my own. While I suppose it is unfair to inject today In a classic what-was-I-thinking moment, I purchased “Utopia,” a 600-year-old book billed on Amazon as a “…fiction and socio-political satire.” I am two-thirds of the way through the book, and I am guessing that satire meant something else in the early 1500s. The book actually reads as a long-winded, mostly one-sided conversation, almost like reading ancient philosophy. As I plowed further and further into the book, I began to create furrows of my own. While I suppose it is unfair to inject today’s world into (the not yet Sir) Thomas More’s creation, it was too tempting to ignore the opportunity. Almost. The book talks about Utopia, an island protected from the outside world by natural boundaries that would give the most seasoned sailor pause. All the sins and temptations of the world are ignored or ridiculed here, a world where everyone works (including doing their turn at the farm), plays, studies, and even is given at least eight hours of time to sleep. Anyone who breaks the law becomes a slave, and performs the menial work for the rest of the populace. Today, we might view this combination of socialism/communism/slavery as something abhorrent, or at least an impossibility. There are many parts of this perfect society which would not make sense today, although it was tempting to consider that Utopia had no lawyers…or wouldn’t that make sense, either? Hmm… They also condoned state-sanctioned suicide, meaning as long as you received permission from the powers-that-be, it was okay to poison yourself. Or starve yourself. Or whatever worked. While this book could have been considered controversial by 16th Century standards and brushes up alongside treason (the opening bits of king-praising were probably a life-saving requirement), the presentation in today’s world is a bit quaint at best and best suited primarily for those who are students of history or of Sir Thomas More. As a historical piece of literature, I would give it five stars. Judged against 16th Century readers, it is a fantasy that can only be wished for; for modern readers, a tough slog that causes more questions to emerge than the potential problems it hopes to solve. Three stars. Need to mention, this illustrated version (Kindle edition ASIN: B074WBKDXR) is not worth the price, which also had a bearing on the final decision of three stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gary Inbinder

    I first read Thomas More’s “Utopia” fifty years ago in a college English Lit. course. At the time, my knowledge of More was limited to “A Man for All Seasons,” a film I’d seen, and very much liked, when it was first released in 1966. When I read “Utopia”, about two years after I viewed the film, I was bothered by what appeared to be contradictions within the text and also between the text and the character of its author. For example, compare a quote from “Utopia” on the subject of religious tole I first read Thomas More’s “Utopia” fifty years ago in a college English Lit. course. At the time, my knowledge of More was limited to “A Man for All Seasons,” a film I’d seen, and very much liked, when it was first released in 1966. When I read “Utopia”, about two years after I viewed the film, I was bothered by what appeared to be contradictions within the text and also between the text and the character of its author. For example, compare a quote from “Utopia” on the subject of religious tolerance: “...no man ought to be punished for his religion" to More’s harsh treatment of Protestants, most notably William Tyndale, a translator of the Bible into the vernacular. In the end, Sir Thomas was punished for his religion as he had punished others for theirs. But was his condemnation of others for heresy against the Catholic Church and his execution for treason for refusing to openly acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the Church of England a distinction without a difference? “Utopia” is the product of a specific time, place and culture and ought to be considered within its historical context. Therefore, I’m going to begin with a brief biographical sketch of More and his world. Thomas More (1478-1535) More was born during the reign of Edward IV of the House of York, in the last decade of the thirty-year War of the Roses, a period of internecine warfare between the royal houses of Lancaster and York nicely summed up in Cardinal Wolseley’s lines from “The Man for All Seasons”: “Let the dynasty die with Henry Vlll and we'll have dynastic wars again. Blood-witted barons ramping the country from end to end.” More agreed in principle with Wolsey’s argument that the peace, stability and order established under the Tudor kings should be preserved for the common good. His conflict with the cardinal involved the means used to achieve the desired ends. Where does one draw the line when it comes to taking questionable, or even immoral or wicked means, to achieve a good end? In More’s case that bright line was established early in life; a line between his dual loyalties to Church and State. Where did his duty lie when those two ruling powers came into conflict? More was born a member of the privileged class. His father, Sir John More, was a judge with political connections good enough to get his talented twelve-year-old son a coveted position as page in the household of Archbishop Morton. Morton was both prelate and statesman, a Lancastrian who wisely switched sides to serve Edward IV. Following Edward’s death, Morton fled imprisonment under Richard III and aided Henry Tudor Earl of Richmond, the future Henry VII. After Richard’s defeat and death at the battle of Bosworth (1485) Morton became King Henry’s chief adviser. His services to both Church and State raised Morton to Archbishop of Canterbury and then to lord chancellor and cardinal, a prince of the church and the second most powerful man in England. Morton was impressed by the serious, studious and clever young page, so much so that he sent the young Thomas More to Oxford to advance and complete his studies. More was a great success as a classical scholar proficient in both Latin and Greek. After Oxford, the eighteen-year-old More was sent to London to study law at The Inns of Chancery, which qualified him for the Bar. During this period, he displayed an ascetic bent by wearing a hair shirt and practicing self-flagellation, and he continued ascetic practices throughout his life. Between 1503 and 1504 More joined the Carthusian monks' in their spiritual exercises. More reached a critical crossroads in his career: Would he pursue a strictly religious life, or remain a layman dedicated to the law and politics? He chose the latter, standing for election to Parliament in 1504 and marrying the following year. The fact that he didn’t choose to pursue a career as both cleric and statesman, like his mentor Morton and Morton’s successor, Cardinal Wolsey says something about the man’s character. It reminds me of the scene between the Cardinal and Sir Thomas in “A Man for All Seasons. More refuses to support Wolsey’s efforts to secure the king’s divorce because he disapproves of Wolsey’s method of coercing the church in England by threatening to confiscate its wealth. Cardinal Wolsey: More! You should have been a cleric! More: Like yourself, Your Grace? More rebukes the cardinal with sarcasm, implying that “A man cannot serve two masters.” More might have temporarily avoided the Church/State conflict by remaining a layman, but ultimately when tested, he couldn’t avoid the conflict between his duty to his sovereign and state and his own conscience. In doing so, he exchanged a life of material wealth and power for martyrdom and sainthood. From the time he was admitted to the Bar and entered parliament, More’s rise was to power was steady and swift. He became a trusted adviser to the young King Henry VIII. While acting as the king’s envoy in Flanders he drafted his description in Latin of the imaginary island Utopia, which was completed and published in 1516. During the course of the next thirteen years More continued to climb the ladder of temporal success until, upon the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, he accepted the position of lord chancellor, the first layman to hold that office. Three years later, unable to support the king in the matter of Henry’s divorce from Queen Catherine, he resigned his office. He remained silent on the subject of the divorce and the king’s new title as head of the Church of England, believing the legal maxim, Qui tacet consentiret (silence gives consent) would defend him from a charge of treason. But in the end, More’s silence put him in direct conflict with the king, and that sealed his fate. UTOPIA: Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia. This translates, "A truly golden little book, no less beneficial than entertaining, of a republic's best state and of the new island Utopia". The original draft title was wryly humorous. This was shortened to the less cheeky, De optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia: "Of a republic's best state and of the new island Utopia". Utopia means nowhere, and its founder Utopos is literally “nobody.” Frame Narrative In Book One, More is on a real-life mission to Flanders to resolve a dispute between Henry VIII and the Prince of Castile. While in Antwerp, More encounters his friend, the Humanist Peter Giles (aka Pieter Gillis aka Petrus Aegidius) who introduces More to the fictitious Portuguese seaman and explorer, Raphael Hytholoday. Giles vouches for Hytholoday (the name literally means speaker of nonsense) as more than just a traveler; he’s well-read and a good and wise man. Can this good and wise man effectively serve a European prince? Raphael “The Speaker of Nonsense” doesn’t think so. The set-up allows More to initiate a discussion about contemporary problems such as the tendency of monarchs to start wars and to waste money on conquest and courtly splendor. He also argues against the death penalty to punish theft, saying the thieves might as well murder their victims to remove witnesses since the punishment for theft and murder is the same. There follows a discussion about the socio-economic causes of theft that set the stage for Hytholoday’s Utopian narrative suggesting that waste, greed and an unequal distribution of wealth and property are the root causes of crime. The proposed solution is a form of communism. In this section More was careful to include a reference, in his own voice, to his mentor Cardinal Morton who ably served both Church and State, implying that a good and wise man, like More himself, could hold such a position under a Tudor monarchy. Book Two: Hytholoday’s Utopia “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” New Testament The above quote forms a red thread woven into the fabric of Hytholoday’s narrative, and More uses that Biblically inspired theme to critique greed and corruption in both the Church and State. But he uses a cautious indirect attack by putting the criticism in the mouth of his “speaker of nonsense” and addressing his arguments in Latin for a limited audience of Renaissance scholars. The Utopian socio-economic system covers a number of topics that were controversial in More’s time and some remain so to this day. To discuss each and every one of them requires at the very least a well-resourced essay, and perhaps a book as long or longer than “Utopia” itself; such a discussion extends far beyond the scope of this GR review. More left the discussion open-ended. At the end of Hytholoday’s narrative, More provides a “disclaimer”, indicating that while there were some good, or at least interesting policies in the Utopian system, there was also much that he found absurd. These matters include government, national defense, trade and foreign relations, education, work and leisure, economics, slavery, laws both civil and criminal, marriage & divorce, healthcare (including euthanasia/assisted suicide for the terminally ill), and religion, with an argument for tolerance. I’ll limit my observations to Utopia’s government, economics and religion with some reference to related matters. Utopia’s government: More designed a complex form of republic grounded in the family and extended families. The extended families might be compared to the Tribes of the ancient Roman Republic that elected their senators and tribunes. In Utopia, groups of thirty families elect magistrates to govern them. A larger group nominates four candidates for election as Prince, and the magistrates choose the Prince from that list. Utopian Economy: The economy could be described as “Christian Communism” See Acts 4:32-35, "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. ... 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." The Utopians are pagans but, according to Hytholoday, the best among them are amenable to Christian conversion. More takes some time sketching out a complex system for the island, including a means of foreign trade, that works without private property and money. However, this system is a “thought experiment” for scholarly debate that allows More, hidden behind the persona of his “speaker of nonsense”, to criticize the socio-economic conditions of his time. “I can have no other notion of all the other governments that I see or know than that they are a conspiracy of the rich, who on pretense of managing the public only pursue their private ends, and devise all the ways and arts they can find out: first, that they may without danger preserve all that they have so ill acquired, and then that they may engage the poor to toil and labor for them at as low rates as possible, and oppress them as much as they please." At the end of the long narrative, More provides the following disclaimer: “When Raphael had thus made an end of speaking, though many things occurred to me, both concerning the manners and laws of that people, that seemed very absurd, as well in their way of making war, as in their notions of religion and divine matters—together with several other particulars, but chiefly what seemed the foundation of all the rest, their living in common, without the use of money…” (emphasis added) More ends by saying that Raphael was tired and therefore, out of consideration, More did not press the narrator with a dispute over the seeming absurdities of the Utopian narrative. However, More does say he looks forward to a future discussion, which leads him to close as follows: “In the meanwhile, though it must be confessed that he is both a very learned man and a person who has obtained a great knowledge of the world, I cannot perfectly agree to everything he has related. However, there are many things in the commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments.” (emphasis added) Conclusion: Wish rather than hope. The inconsistencies that bothered me fifty years ago remain unresolved, but at least I’ve gained some insight into the seeming contradictions. Hytholoday, the “Speaker of Nonsense” argues for his own peculiar brand of Utopian Socialism like a character in one of Plato’s Dialogues. More, a rising star as both scholar and statesman, plays Socrates. He uses the narrative to critique his own society by offering a radical alternative, and then equivocates by stating that while many of the manners and customs of Utopia “seemed absurd”, and therefore impractical, there were “many things” that “he wished rather than hoped” would be followed by the European governments of his day. But he doesn’t specifically state what it was that he “wished rather than hoped” for. The Utopian way of life is in marked contrast to the experience of the peoples of Tudor England and the several European states, not to mention the way almost everyone lives today. The greatest absurdity is to think that people in a modern society could be “happy” under the constraints of strict conformity; to wear the same plain clothes; to eat the same plain “healthy” foods; to live in the same houses, and so forth. Most people are competitive; they have some ambition to get ahead in life; they respond to material incentives. More was no different. From the time he was a page to Cardinal Morton, he worked diligently to advance himself. As he climbed the ladder of success, he didn’t object to having “Sir” in front of his name; he didn’t refuse the office of “Lord Chancellor” when it was offered, and before he had his falling out with the king, he and his family lived lives of privilege, ease and comfort compared to the vast majority of the people of England, or of any other nation on earth at that time. But that doesn’t necessarily make him a hypocrite; it makes him human. In "A Man for All Seasons," Richard Rich, a former friend, now Sir Richard, Attorney General for Wales and dressed splendidly to display his newly achieved status, gives perjured testimony that sends More to the block. More looks at Rich’s badge of office and sadly remarks: “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales?” More is a saint. For those who share his faith, he’s eternally happy in a much better place than either this world or the imaginary Utopia. Rich became Lord Chancellor of England, a wealthy baron with a large family, who died peacefully in his bed. Where is he now?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    More's fusion of Christianity, socialism, and republicanism reflects his humanist conception of an ideal society, and in so doing constitutes criticism of contemporary English society. More argues that virtue is natural and something for which all humans have an innate desire. He characterizes virtue more concretely than most philosophers of his day, defining it as doing the utmost to increase happiness (found primarily in simple pleasures) for all. The state should remain minimal and intervene More's fusion of Christianity, socialism, and republicanism reflects his humanist conception of an ideal society, and in so doing constitutes criticism of contemporary English society. More argues that virtue is natural and something for which all humans have an innate desire. He characterizes virtue more concretely than most philosophers of his day, defining it as doing the utmost to increase happiness (found primarily in simple pleasures) for all. The state should remain minimal and intervene only when people fail to be virtuous. England, by this rule, is not virtuous because its rulers prevent the people and the state from behaving naturally. Rulers should not seek wealth, possessions, conquest, and power. Human beings are ends, not means, and rulers have no right to sacrifice them in efforts to gain these unnatural desires. Civilization should instead be primitive and harmonious. Because individuals are more important than property, there should be no capital punishment. Instead, criminals should be punished with slavery, and when reformed they should be returned to society. Prisoners of war, taken in self-defense, could also be enslaved. When aggressive nations are defeated, educated citizens should be sent to rule them. Utopia was written specifically as a response to Henry's break with Rome; More had hoped that reform would be initiated by the Church. He had little hope of reform coming from rulers, whom he saw as entirely selfish in their oppression of their subjects for their own ends. Wealth and power are corrupting influences which destroy human reason's natural virtue and ability to know God (More believed that in a state of nature Christian revelation was unnecessary). Here endeth my general explanation. For more in-depth study of More, I recommend Carl Kowsky and Russell Aimes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    JAN 2017: Youtube 6mins 54secs utopia vs. dystopia 6mins 18secs ------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06y9b6t Description: 2016 is the 500th Anniversary of Thomas More's classic work of speculative fiction, which has entered the culture so deeply that the name of his fictional island is the accepted term for our hopes and dreams of a better society. Poet Michael Symmons Roberts dramatisation brings More's strange and enchanting island to JAN 2017: Youtube 6mins 54secs utopia vs. dystopia 6mins 18secs ------------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06y9b6t Description: 2016 is the 500th Anniversary of Thomas More's classic work of speculative fiction, which has entered the culture so deeply that the name of his fictional island is the accepted term for our hopes and dreams of a better society. Poet Michael Symmons Roberts dramatisation brings More's strange and enchanting island to life, told through the memoirs of Raphael Hythloday. More goes on a diplomatic trip to Antwerp, to sort out a dispute in the commercial wool trade between Britain and the Netherlands. While he is there he meets an old man who is clearly widely travelled. More complains about the petty politics of the trade dispute, and the old stranger bemoans the state of contemporary society. There is a better way, he says, and I have seen it. The stranger introduces himself as the explorer and adventurer Raphael Hythloday, who at the height of his career of was sent out from Antwerp to explore an unmapped and remote part of the ocean. After months of sailing, he chanced upon an island society unlike any he had seen before. The island was called 'Utopia'. Utopia fleshes out the story of Raphael's visit to the island, giving us vivid descriptions of the place and its society, its laws and social patterns and customs. All the bearings for this new drama are be taken from the rules and descriptions of the island in More's book, and the clues he gives about Raphael's visit. RE-VISIT VIA R4 Raphael Hythloday Raad Rawi Young Raphael Nacho Aldeguer Thomas More Michael Peavoy Achorian Michael Peavoy Peter Giles Cameron Blakeley Abraxa Emily Pithon Barzanes Jonathan Keeble Macaria Fiona Clarke Bettie's Books

  18. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Classics Cleanup Challenge #9 Audio #157 I'm going to be completely honest with y'all because we're all friends here, right? I only read this because I felt like I should have by this point in my life. Good lord I practically slept through it. So dull, but the narrator was good so I think that may have increased my star rating?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    Utopia is Thomas More's response to Plato's The Republic . In Utopia, More introduces the "ideal society" through a fictitious state of the same name of which location is unclear. According to More, this ideal society is a model of equality and justice. There are gender equality and no class structure. The Utopian society enjoys shared living; all property and wealth are held in common. There are no private properties. There is a rigid structure of governance and conduct of society and every Utopia is Thomas More's response to Plato's The Republic . In Utopia, More introduces the "ideal society" through a fictitious state of the same name of which location is unclear. According to More, this ideal society is a model of equality and justice. There are gender equality and no class structure. The Utopian society enjoys shared living; all property and wealth are held in common. There are no private properties. There is a rigid structure of governance and conduct of society and every citizen follows them obediently, for there are severe punishments for disobedience. The state of Utopia is governed in accordance with communist and socialist ideals. It is quite interesting to note that the communist and socialist ideas that were advocated by Plato in his Republic were reiterated by a 16th-century British social philosopher, even more rigidly. And the fact is that it was written three-centuries ago the Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx which was the paving stone for the Communist States. Thomas More was a prominent statesman. He once worked as an under-sheriff and knew the social disorder and inequality. He saw how the poor suffered and how the nobility and landed gentry abuse their labour. What he witnessed made him reflect on social reform and his own views found a voice through Utopia. One cannot, therefore, dismiss Utopia lightly as fictitious and imaginative. It is More's own reflections based on his own societal defects. But given the time period in which he lived in, it was suicidal to express these views publicly. So he creates Utopia and brings it to the public as an account which was narrated to him by a Portuguese traveler by the name of Raphael Hithloday. A major part of the book is dedicated to establishing equality, and this through by the introduction of a rigid structure. The motto seems to be equality and justice as whatever cost. The "cost" is liberty and freedom. However, some of the views expressed are noteworthy. More had been mindful of how little land was used by the nobles and gentry to cultivate thus by providing labour opportunities. Much of the land according to him were wasted on gardens and hunting grounds of which he was critical. There are also views expressed on religious tolerance. There was religious disharmony brewing in British society at the time, so he felt called upon to express liberal views on religion. As long as one accepts God and not advocate atheism, it was to be accepted as an individual right and tolerated. What is more surprising is More's liberal support on euthanasia! As a devoted catholic, Thomas More really surprised me there. I thought Utopia was a political satire, but it is not so. It is rather a political criticism and an advocacy for a better society. It is a fantastical state and even More while expressing his views had his doubts on achieving such status. Centuries later, we now see that that is impossible and that humans somehow value liberty and freedom more than equality.

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    The perfect society as a critique of Tudor England 30 November 2013 I was going to open this commentary with 'where no man has gone before' until I realised that the opening to Star Trek is actually 'Space, the final frontier' and then rambles on a bit more before saying 'to boldly go where no man has gone before'. You may be wondering why I am connecting a book written by a 16th century clergy man with a very popular science-fiction series from the 1960s, and in some cases I may be asking that q The perfect society as a critique of Tudor England 30 November 2013 I was going to open this commentary with 'where no man has gone before' until I realised that the opening to Star Trek is actually 'Space, the final frontier' and then rambles on a bit more before saying 'to boldly go where no man has gone before'. You may be wondering why I am connecting a book written by a 16th century clergy man with a very popular science-fiction series from the 1960s, and in some cases I may be asking that question myself. Is it because I am simply being off topic? Well, not really, because what we have in Star Trek, or at least in the more modern versions of the series, is an ideal society where humanity has managed to solve all of its problems, and that we are now a superior people who can lead the galaxy as a shining example of morality (though if you have a careful look at the series you will notice that this utopian society ends up collapsing in its own contradictions). I noticed that I have used utopia in the above paragraph, and if there is one thing that this book as contributed to the English language, and that is the word utopia, which basically describes a perfect society. However, as much as I have criticised Star Trek in the past for creating a belief (at least among science-fiction nerds) that there will be some critical event in the future that will turn human society around and make everybody realise that they have basically been pricks to each other and that they suddenly have an epiphany that they will stop being pricks, and actually start being nice to each other and to begin to work for the betterment for each other, they are clearly not the first to have created this ideal (and will certainly not be the last). I don't necessarily think that this is what More is saying in his work though because I suspect that what he is doing to using it as a criticism of current English society and instead of simply writing down a long list of what was wrong with society at that time (such as the example he gives at the beginning with thieves being executed for simply stealing a loaf of bread), he is painting a picture of what a perfect society would look like, and using this as a goal that society at his time should start moving towards. More certainly was not the first person to create such a picture, and anybody who has read Plato will certainly see the influence that Plato has had on More. In a way this book seems to have been substantially influenced by Plato's Republic, as well as Plato's writings on the city of Atlantis (and the suggestion here is that More knew that Atlantis never actually existed, and that it was simply a place that Plato created to demonstrate a template of his perfect society). The interesting thing we notice about his society is that there is a focus on learning, as well as a focus of work, however work does not last so long as to result in the workers having no free time. In fact, everybody in the society has a form of work to do (which is a criticism of the classed English society of the time, where the workers would work pretty much all of their lives, while the privileged classes would live in luxury off of their backs). However, I note that the free time does not involve sitting down in front of a TV watching sport (or at least the sixteenth century equivalent) or going to the pub and gambling while drinking beer. This has been a criticism (as espoused in Aldous Huxley) about giving the working class too much free time, and that is because they will simply waste it. That, in a way, is true, because even though I would love to have free time now, I have noticed (and this was the case with myself as well) that a lot of people do not use their free time effectively. I wonder around the pubs here in suburban Melbourne and see that they are full of people sitting at pokie machines drinking beer and gambling. When I was younger, while I have never been addicted to gambling, I would generally waste my free time doing similar things (namely roleplaying, or preparing roleplaying games). However, the idea of learning, and encouraging a hobby for people to do in their free time is a good thing. The problem is that it simply does not work. Once cannot force people to learn, nor can one force people to have a hobby. People generally gravate towards laziness, in the same way that water flows downhill the easiest way possible. However, I find that making human nature as an excuse as to not to attempt to progress human nature is a pretty poor excuse, and if we had maintained that position then the advancements that have brought us to the position that we are now in would never have occurred. However, what I do believe is that we should be able to tap into every persons potential. There are indeed a lot of people out there that, unless they are given a push, will never desire to reach their potential, however there are others that cannot reach their potential due to being bound in some form of slavery. As such, we need to fight against these enslaving forces to enable humanity to truly reach their potential.

  21. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    From the Intro to the Kindle edition: ‘More’s “Utopia” was written in Latin, and is in two parts, of which the second, describing the place ([Greek text]—or Nusquama, as he called it sometimes in his letters—“Nowhere”), was probably written towards the close of 1515.’ This was a surprise to me as I thought ‘utopia’ meant someplace idyllic. By definition, ‘an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.’ Synonyms are paradise, heaven (on earth), Eden, Garden of Eden, Shangri-L From the Intro to the Kindle edition: ‘More’s “Utopia” was written in Latin, and is in two parts, of which the second, describing the place ([Greek text]—or Nusquama, as he called it sometimes in his letters—“Nowhere”), was probably written towards the close of 1515.’ This was a surprise to me as I thought ‘utopia’ meant someplace idyllic. By definition, ‘an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.’ Synonyms are paradise, heaven (on earth), Eden, Garden of Eden, Shangri-La, Elysium. The name of the book has given an adjective to our language—we call an impracticable scheme ‘Utopian’. So what was Utopia exactly? No place? Or some place too good to be true? The novel was never published in England during More’s lifetime. The first part, called “The Dialogue of Counsel” is More’s correspondence with several people he had met on the continent. Then he engages in dialogue with a traveler Raphael Hythlodaeus, to whom More was introduced in Antwerp. They discuss how best to deal with the social ill of theft and thieves and how to counsel princes. The second part or book is devoted to the description of the island of Utopia, its geography, community life, economy, philosophy and legal system. Here are just a few interesting characteristics of life in this no-where place:Since everyone works, the actual work day is only six hours. Citizens alternate living between cities and country on a two year cycle. Utopians direct education toward learning useful skills. Marriage is highly esteemed and war is to be avoided if at all possible, yet it is recognized the island must always be prepared for the eventuality. There is no private property, but there is slavery; slaves being condemned criminals, captured prisoners, or foreigners brought in for other reasons. Divorce is permissible under certain circumstances and so is euthanasia. There is no single religion but when Christianity is introduced, many were baptized. Listening to the description as I did I couldn’t help liking some of the utopian ideas and finding others reprehensible. I am not convinced More meant to describe his ideal place. Of course it is possible, but I believe he has given us a start, more like a seed, than a final product—something to get us mentally working on our own ‘perfect place’. I have never tried to create my own, but I suspect it is much harder than any of us imagine it to be…

  22. 4 out of 5

    Delirious Disquisitions

    Thomas Moore’s Utopia is a two part thesis outlining the fictional country of Utopia and its people as the measure of what a perfect commonwealth should look like. Book I acts as a prologue to the main story in Book II. Here we are introduced to Moore, his friend Peter Giles, and a fictional character named Raphael who acts as our primary source into the Republic of Utopia. In Book I, Moore takes his time to lay out the current political, geographic, economic, and social scene in England during Thomas Moore’s Utopia is a two part thesis outlining the fictional country of Utopia and its people as the measure of what a perfect commonwealth should look like. Book I acts as a prologue to the main story in Book II. Here we are introduced to Moore, his friend Peter Giles, and a fictional character named Raphael who acts as our primary source into the Republic of Utopia. In Book I, Moore takes his time to lay out the current political, geographic, economic, and social scene in England during this time. Thus when we are ultimately introduced to Utopia in Book II it is immediately recognizable as a foil to England. Moore also spends considerable time constructing a credible background for Utopia in history, geography, and even language. It's finally after setting up the question of why there is a need for Utopia that Moore segues into the details of a perfect Utopia in Book II. Book II outlines the geographical, political, economic, and social landscape of Utopia. But while we are supposed to read Utopia as the ideal version of England during Moore’s time, there are a lot of problematic instances inter-textual instances within the text itself. For one thing the rigid physical and psychological structure of Utopia doesn’t account for arbitrary human emotions or fallacies; something that is reflected in Raphael’s character in Book I. The idea of public property, notion of a homogeneous society and its people, the hive mind mentality, elitist nature of the Utopians is more dystopia in nature than an ideal paradise. The cultish nature of the Utopian society is one of the truly disturbing aspects of the novel. Geographically, Utopia is very much isolated from the outside world their only point of contact being if anyone happens upon the island. Internal movement as well is severely limited with citizens needing permission from the authority to travel even between towns. Everyone produces just the right amount of food or resources to get by. Even the population is carefully monitored. Such restriction is ultimately why Utopia is a futile dream: a society that cannot progress and just recycles itself endlessly would stagnate, and as such is impossible to realize. There are still other problematic issues with the Utopian way of living such as restriction on clothing, appearance, even the spending of leisure time. Moreover, although Utopia is a secular country it holds the Christian model of religion as the most superior. As Utopia is very much a monastic society based on the fundamental idea of reward in the afterlife, atheism as the antithesis of this idea is considered taboo. The Utopians go so far as to enslave such people or cast them out of society. Speaking of which, Moore treats slavery with such casualness as to be insulting. There are many throwaway references to slavery, with it being the most popular replacement for hangings or death penalties. Women likewise are treated with the kind of sexism that was very common at the time. Rather, Moore is progressive in some instances when he shows the women actively participating in everyday market labor. Yet despite its controversial nature, Utopia is still a revolutionary text that is still very much relevant to contemporary times. Issues like enclosures, monopoly of wealth or resources by a few, loss of agricultural land, etc. There is enough inherent contradictions within the text to suggest Moore wrote Utopia as more of a satire coating some fundamental truths about society. Ultimately, whether we think of Utopia as an impossible ideal, a satirical piece, or a manifesto of change it forces us to think critically of the society around us and the question contemplate plausible change. 3.5 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robb

    This was a fantastic book. I am really surprised I hadn't heard of this author or this book before. It has been quite a while since a book was able to affect and stimulate me on an intellectual level. Utopia is a great work that touches on so many ideas that were surprisingly well ahead of his time. He developed theories on Communism, capitalism, philosophy, religion, social justice centuries before big names such as Marx, Engles, Smith, Locke, Rawls, etc came onto the scene and told us the best This was a fantastic book. I am really surprised I hadn't heard of this author or this book before. It has been quite a while since a book was able to affect and stimulate me on an intellectual level. Utopia is a great work that touches on so many ideas that were surprisingly well ahead of his time. He developed theories on Communism, capitalism, philosophy, religion, social justice centuries before big names such as Marx, Engles, Smith, Locke, Rawls, etc came onto the scene and told us the best way to operate a society. I read several other reviews from people about this book and they are not very flattering. Of course, people need to realize that this book was written in the early 1500s and these ideas were nothing short of revolutionary when it was written and not as some have put it "pinko propaganda". More wrote Utopia in such away to make these theories less prescriptive and more of a satirical look at how humans structure a society and how they will never actually be able to achieve something as perfect as Utopia. I enjoyed Book I much more then Book II as it was more of a dialogue about what is wrong with society, which surprisingly was just as applicable in today's age. Book II was pretty much a description of how Utopia operates on the many levels required for a society to function. Both were well written however. I recommend this book to everyone as it has something for everyone in it. You cannot read this book and not take something from it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I very much enjoyed this classic piece of literature. Unlike some other reviewers, I don't think it is meant to be a model for a real society. It is in fact a quixotic idea of what a perfect society might look like, but I am not going to criticize a work of fiction just because it is not necessarily a realistic plan for a real state/country/world. That being said, I do believe the purpose of More's work is to make people seriously consider some of the things that are wrong with our culture and ho I very much enjoyed this classic piece of literature. Unlike some other reviewers, I don't think it is meant to be a model for a real society. It is in fact a quixotic idea of what a perfect society might look like, but I am not going to criticize a work of fiction just because it is not necessarily a realistic plan for a real state/country/world. That being said, I do believe the purpose of More's work is to make people seriously consider some of the things that are wrong with our culture and how to improve upon it. I found myself highlighting scores of passages, particularly those about education. (Full disclosure: I am a teacher, so naturally I have idealistic views about education.) More writes in very long, drawn-out sentences, but the basic idea of one of my favorite passages is, "If we do not properly educate people so they cannot be financially independent and so resort to stealing, what else are we doing but making thieves and then punishing them?" As a teacher for at-risk students, I see this behavior all too often, and I do believe that many of society's ills can be corrected in youth if only schools have the resources. My main issue with this book was More's writing style. As I mentioned before, he writes in extremely long sentences, mostly separated by semi-colons, which can make for tedious reading. Sometimes one sentence takes up a whole page. Other than that, I enjoyed the work.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mario

    For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them. Well this was quite a surprise. After I read a few pages of this book, I thought that I was going to hate every single minute of reading it, but now I can say that I quite enjoyed it. Utopia is a book about 'a good place For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them. Well this was quite a surprise. After I read a few pages of this book, I thought that I was going to hate every single minute of reading it, but now I can say that I quite enjoyed it. Utopia is a book about 'a good place', where society works perfectly and no one is oppressed. Money does not exist, no one owns anything - so everyone are rich. No one is poor and no one is starving. Too bad Utopia in translation means 'no place', right? But nevertheless, Utopia was quite a smart little book, and it proved an interesting few points. So I definitely do not regret reading it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have so much respect for Moore, for what he endured in his life, for the courage to stand by his convictions -- even when facing financial, social, and ultimately his own ruin. His vision of Utopia is beautiful. It certainly set the stage for socialism (I know "humanists"). However, much like many socialist thinkers, he does not take human nature into account at all. His society works, only if everyone in it subscribes to his specific moral code, values, and drive. In that way, it is a stiflin I have so much respect for Moore, for what he endured in his life, for the courage to stand by his convictions -- even when facing financial, social, and ultimately his own ruin. His vision of Utopia is beautiful. It certainly set the stage for socialism (I know "humanists"). However, much like many socialist thinkers, he does not take human nature into account at all. His society works, only if everyone in it subscribes to his specific moral code, values, and drive. In that way, it is a stifling society. What happens to the driven man (overachiever); the mad; the greedy man; the Machiavellian schemer? All these personalities and many more exist within humanity. A society needs room to accommodate and anticipate them.

  27. 5 out of 5

    A.J.

    If you need a reason to be a pinko communist sissy, I imagine you can do a little better than this. The Greek word for utopia actually means "no-place" or "nonsense". For the two or three of you who still haven't figured out why people use Marx's Manifesto as toilet paper, you might actually appreciate the ideas presented here, but bear in mind that it's likely not even Thomas More himself was taking it seriously. You could call this a work of fiction as much as one of philosophy or political th If you need a reason to be a pinko communist sissy, I imagine you can do a little better than this. The Greek word for utopia actually means "no-place" or "nonsense". For the two or three of you who still haven't figured out why people use Marx's Manifesto as toilet paper, you might actually appreciate the ideas presented here, but bear in mind that it's likely not even Thomas More himself was taking it seriously. You could call this a work of fiction as much as one of philosophy or political theory––in fact it's downright tiresome just trying to figure out what the hell More's argument is. To a dirt-poor farmer digging potatoes for the fifth round of stew this week, Utopia might sound like a grand place to live. Little work, plenty of food, and you get to see your potential wife naked before you marry her. What a life. Yet the same thing always happens. Someone somewhere gets the idea in his head that he isn't going to be any better off whether he works half strength, full strength, or not at all. Then someone else starts to think he's more equal than everyone else. It doesn't take a feat of imagination to see More's little world dying from a million small cuts, because if there's anything I've learned about the human race so far, we can't do anything in groups without an inevitable typhoon of bullsh#t. As a historic piece of literature, I've certainly read worse. But the implementation of this society is downright laughable. Just read Animal Farm and you'll see what I'm talking about.

  28. 5 out of 5

    LydiaMae

    Jam packed with good old fashioned wit and sarcasm. EVERYTHING has a double meaning. Read for an university program but still thinking about all the deep meanings...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    Notes collected: "you [Raphael] neither desire wealth nor greatness" More had been assigned by King Henry VIII to get to Flanders. In Brussels he's got a dear friend named Peter, who introduces More to this philosopher/traveller called Raphael Hythloday. His four voyages have been published; he's Portuguese by birth and knows a lot about nations and countries. He's been to Ceylon, India and many other places. But More is puzzled: how such a man is not serving under a monarch....why not to a Notes collected: "you [Raphael] neither desire wealth nor greatness" More had been assigned by King Henry VIII to get to Flanders. In Brussels he's got a dear friend named Peter, who introduces More to this philosopher/traveller called Raphael Hythloday. His four voyages have been published; he's Portuguese by birth and knows a lot about nations and countries. He's been to Ceylon, India and many other places. But More is puzzled: how such a man is not serving under a monarch....why not to apply his thoughts to public affairs? Raphael replies he's been under the equator...much further than the deserts ...and further away in a place where men know about astronomy and other subjects. The Philosopher says: "now I live as I will". He knows about the "laws and manners of the Utopians". But he knows also about those "proud" rulers of Britain,...in Church and State. (Utopian alphabet) Who are the Utopians; what's Utopia? To be updated

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    This book has been close to a revelation for me. It took me completely by surprise, considering these ancient books always seemed rather dry to me, however intelligent their writer. I don't know how much of this is owed to the translator, Paul Turner, but I reckon at least enough for him to merit the explicit mention here. I used to be, I still am in fact, very fond of dystopian novels. Brave New World and 1984 are classic examples which I thoroughly enjoyed. But after reading Utopia, I'm left fa This book has been close to a revelation for me. It took me completely by surprise, considering these ancient books always seemed rather dry to me, however intelligent their writer. I don't know how much of this is owed to the translator, Paul Turner, but I reckon at least enough for him to merit the explicit mention here. I used to be, I still am in fact, very fond of dystopian novels. Brave New World and 1984 are classic examples which I thoroughly enjoyed. But after reading Utopia, I'm left far more impressed. It's infinitely more challenging to try and come up with a society model that works, rather than one that screws things up. Granted, Utopia more than probably wouldn't work, and some of the notions are dated. Thomas More's treatment of women's role in society probably will not make him very popular with our contemporary ladies, not to mention his statements on the "mentally deficient" as well as those on atheists and slavery. Utopia can only work because of the mistakes other countries around it make, and by cashing in on it, either by using their criminals as slaves or their thirst for gold as a weapon against them, ruling out the possibility of a worldwide Utopia, but somehow expecting that those who are left out stand idly by. The reason why I like this book is not because I think an Utopia would work, but because I greatly appreciate the effort of trying to design such a place. I feel some lessons could be distilled from it, despite its shortcomings, and these lessons are brought in such a humble tone that the book never strikes me as condescending in that respect, making it all the more powerful. Aside from the dated notions mentioned before, More's emphasis on Christianity might offend some people as well, but I chose to read it as an afterthought rather than the cherry on the cake (as it was probably intended). Reading it that way allowed me not to forget about some ideas where Thomas More was indeed ahead of his time, apparent in small issues such as female priests or big ones such as euthanasia, international treaties and freedom of religion. Thomas More seemed so much ahead of his time, bringing up all these points still relevant today, but was he really? Or was he so perfectly in tune with human nature that what he wrote down applies as much to what happened 1000 years before he was around as 500 years after it? There is something universal and timeless in this book that can't be ignored I think. I haven't given many books five stars so far, but this one gets them, not only for having me thoroughly enjoy it while reading, but for inspiring me to think about life and society in my own modest way, long after I closed it. I'm definitely going to return to it one day. In closing, and as I couldn't say it better myself, some quotes I particularly liked: On his friend Peter Gilles: "Certainly he is a very fine person, as well as a very fine scholar. He is scrupulously fair to everyone, but towards his friends he shows so much genuine kindness, loyalty and affection, that he must be unique in his all-round capacity for friendship. He is unusually modest, utterly sincere, and has a shrewd simplicity all his own. He is also a delightful talker, who can be witty without hurting anyone's feelings. I was longing to get back to England and see my wife and children, as I had been away for over four months; but my homesickness was to a large extent relieved by the pleasure of his company and the charm of his conversation." (Doesn't this describe the kind of friend we should all aspire to be?) "However, there are also physical pleasures which satisfy no organic need, and relieve no previous discomfort. They merely act, in a mysterious but quite unmistakable way, directly on our senses, and monopolize their reactions. Such is the pleasure of music." "For, if you think that sort of thing will make you happy, you'll have to admit that your idea of perfect felicity would be a life consisting entirely of hunger, thirst, itching, eating, drinking, rubbing, and scratching - which would obviously be most unpleasant as well as quite disgusting." "For they assume that He has the normal reactions of an artist. Having put the marvelous system of the universe on show for human beings to look at - since no other species is capable of taking it in - He must prefer the type of person who examines it carefully and really admires His work, to the type that just ignores it and like the lower animals remains quite unimpressed by the whole astonishing spectacle." "For instance, the Utopians fail to understand why anyone would be so fascinated by the dull gleam of a tiny bit of stone, when he has all the stars in the sky to look at." "The Utopians never make any actual treaties of the kind that are so constantly being made, broken, and renewed by other nations. What, they ask, is the good of a treaty? Aren't all human beings natural allies already? And if a person's prepared to ignore a fundamental bond like that, is he likely to pay much attention to a mere form of words?" "...you can't rely on treaties at all. The more solemnly they're made, the sooner they're violated, by the simple process of discovering some loophole in the wording. Indeed, such loopholes are often incorporated deliberately in the original text, so that, no matter how binding one's commitments appear to be, one can always wriggle out of them, thus breaking treaty and faith simultaneously. The fact is, such diplomacy is downright dishonest. If the very people who pride themselves on suggesting such tricks to their rulers found the same sort of thing going on in connection with a private contract, they'd be the first to denounce it, in shrill, self-righteous tones, as sacrilegious and criminal."

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