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Utopia: Thomas More [Paperback]

By Thomas More (Author) & Clarence H. Miller (Translator)
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Item description for Utopia: Thomas More by Thomas More & Clarence H. Miller...

Preeminent More scholar Clarence H. Miller does justice to the full range of More's rhetoric in this new translation of "Utopia", one of the most important works of European humanism. Professor Miller includes a helpful Introduction that outlines some of the important problems and issues that the classic raises. Illustrations.

Publishers Description
First published in 1516, Saint Thomas More's Utopia is one of the most important works of European humanism. Through the voice of the mysterious traveler Raphael Hythloday, More describes a pagan, communist city-state governed by reason. Addressing such issues as religious pluralism, women's rights, state-sponsored education, colonialism, and justified warfare, Utopia seems remarkably contemporary nearly five centuries after it was written, and it remains a foundational text in philosophy and political theory.

Preeminent More scholar Clarence H. Miller does justice to the full range of More's rhetoric in this new translation. Professor Miller includes a helpful introduction that outlines some of the important problems and issues that Utopia raises, and also provides informative commentary to assist the reader throughout this challenging and rewarding exploration of the meaning of political community.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Utopia: Thomas More by Thomas More & Clarence H. Miller has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Univ PR Books for Public Libry - 01/01/2002 page 31
  • Choice - 12/01/2001 page 752

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Yale University Press
Pages   173
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.81" Width: 5.14" Height: 0.54"
Weight:   0.46 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 8, 2001
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300084293  
ISBN13  9780300084290  

Availability  0 units.

More About Thomas More & Clarence H. Miller

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Clarence H. Miller, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at St. Louis University, served as executive editor of the fifteen-volume Yale Edition of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More. Jerry Harp, a poet and a Renaissance scholar, is assistant professor of English at Lewis and Clark College.

Thomas More was born in 1478 and died in 1535.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Constitutions
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Consciousness & Thought
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Medieval Thought
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Modern Renaissance
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Movements > Humanism
8Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > Ideologies > Communism & Socialism
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( M ) > More, Thomas

Reviews - What do customers think about Utopia: Thomas More?

Unfortunately too 16th century in its thinking  Oct 6, 2007
I bought this book because it is a revered "classic". While I am sure More's intent might have been good, and his ideas even acceptable during his time, the main problem with his theory is the lack of freedom allotted to the individuals in his utopia. This sort of thing just does not fly these days.
It's a book  Jan 10, 2007
I needed Utopia for a class, so whether or not I enjoyed it is pretty much irrelevant. I doubt this book is being read for personal enjoyment, but it wasn't a bad read.
Literary Garden of Eden  Dec 16, 2006
This was required reading for a graduate course in the Humanities. A great story and important historical work in literature. History of Utopia begins with Thomas Moore's book in 1516 he coins the phrase Utopia. Ideal societies have been around before like Garden of Eden, city on a hill. For Moore the idea of utopia was intended to be an ironic one. One of the problems you are faced with when reading his utopia is that you cannot really tell when he is serious and when he is being satirical. He writes on the border of the lyrical and satirical, you cannot really tell when he is trying to be funny or serious. The other problem is the Thomas Moore who speaks to us in the story is not the Thomas Moore who actually lived. He wrote himself into a character. He is intending it to be ironic. Utopia is Greek for "Good Place, and "no place." He is punning an ironic two-sided term he clearly intended irony when he wrote this text, which provided the foundation for a new genre for social representation. Now, according to Lewis Mumford, who wrote the book "The Story of Utopia" 1922, one of the first comprehensive studies of Utopian representation in Western Civilization, the word Utopia signifies human folly or human hope, the vain hope of perfection. The vain hope of remaking our own imperfect natures, so that we can establish the blissful harmonious communal life. On one hand, he is entirely playful and paradoxical. Thomas Moore could be bigoted (against Protestants), small minded, not a saint as portrayed. Among all the things, he was a great wit, great sense of humor. On the other hand, it seems that Utopia could be a reflection of his devout Catholicism. He has been represented as a Roman Catholic martyr. In which case you want to take him seriously, altering the model of menses a set of new aims for moral and social objectives. Of course, Moore's death is important to consider in this life he is glorified in the film, "A Man for All Seasons." He was a Renaissance man, he was a lawyer, statesman, Christian humanist a classical scholar an advocate for women's rights he was also Henry 8's Lord Chancellor.

In 1514, he was sent to Flanders to negotiate a wool treaty and while there, he meets and befriends Peter Giles who is the town clerk of Antwerp, and allegedly tells him "It is my intention to write a book about the way a country should be governed according to my principals. But, it is dangerous to write about those things in England while king Henry the 8 wrath is so easily encouraged, I could perhaps write that I met an old sailor in your house and introduce that man as a globetrotter, who had traveled all over the world and had seen places that we don't even know the existence of. What he had seen there was so unbelievable as compared to the life in Europe that the islands the countries he had visited would seem to belong to another world. Therefore, the title of my book will be "Utopia" a word that means "no where." That sailor will have traveled all over Europe and lived sometime in France Germany, and England. That is why he could compare the ideal community he got acquainted with in Utopia, to the ones he got to know in our countries, and that way I would keep myself out of the matter." After he returned to London, he wrote the fist chapter. Now, what would that tell us about the Utopian imagination, the creation the public presentation of a Utopia? Moore was beheaded in 1535; he would not recognize marriage to Ann Boleyn as lawful to the church. In 1534, Henry becomes head of the church, but Moore remains loyal to pope. In 1935, Moore is canonized. We have to take Moore's religion very seriously. Moore thought Protestants should be burned, he was greedy and proud, not a perfect man. Yet he had this wish for a Utopia.

All utopian fictional ideas of mythic proportion occupy kind of distant realm of the afterlife, myth, faith that unite all of these elements in a matter that is so rich and potentially illuminating and invaluable for scholars students that are interested in working across boundaries and in understanding and exploring the value of working across boundaries. Societies woven and inhabited by populations some of them very select, the exceptionally virtuous or blessed in some cases getting there requires a metaphysical transformation, in other cases it requires a harrowing journey that has to be understood as some ways metaphorical and some ways literal. There is always a sense that to reach Utopia requires a transformation of the human self how do we get away from our flaws, how do we get away from our seemingly inevitable and invariable nature of our being.

These places offer anecdotes to painful and tragic realities to human existence. They are historical in nature you cannot understand any utopia, whether it is represented in a sci-fi movie, or novel or feminist utopia; they must be placed in some kind of a historical context. A fascinating proposition to explore, all utopias all acts of the utopian imagination strike us as constituting in one manner or another statements, critiques or observations about the world we occupy at that given moment. Therefore, any utopia is a reflection and study of the world that we are occupying at that given moment and what we wish it were rather than what it is at that moment. Therefore, utopia is a deeply and inescapably a historical manner organizing the human imagination. I don't think any utopia works in a fixed and eternal way because for every generation and every age they have to imagine their own utopia. Of course utopian experiments were not just talking about fiction or wishing it were so, were talking about actual Soviet Revolution of 1917, were looking at movements looking to bring about radical profound social and political changes that are so deeply utopian in nature. So utopians are aesthetic, philosophical, sociological, they are imagined and fictional, but you can look a history and find attempts most of which failed to bring about these kind of communities that Emerson, Thoreau, these 19th century American egalitarian attempts to create the ideal agrarian society. 1960 hippies reawakening movement of going back to the natural and living off the land. Even today's green and ecological revolution you find in them utopian aspects that resonate so richly with the history of envisioning the ideal society, an ideal place.

Oscar Wilde once said "A map of the world that does not include Utopia, is not even worth glancing at for it leaves out the one country at which humanity has always landed, and when humanity lands there it looks out sees a better country set sail. Progress is the realization of utopias." So when we talk about utopias we are not only talking about a desire or a wish or a longing for perfection, we are talking about an order of progress, a way in which we intend to advance, a way in which we envision or imagine improvement and progress. A progress narrative, psychoanalysis is utopian. Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is a scientific expression of the utopian imagination. The idea that where id was, the ego shall be. The idea of a talking story, the idea that we can master our neurosis that we can harness them that we can move from unconscious behavior to conscious behavior. Marxism and all the grand philosophies of the 19th and 20th centuries are grand utopian narratives. Feminism is a grand utopian narrative in and of itself.

Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy, and literature.

Very Satisfied with Product  Nov 3, 2006
I was happy to receive my book in great condition. The process was easy and shipping took but a short time. I was very pleased.
Utopia: Not As Free As You Might Think   Aug 19, 2006
When Thomas More wrote UTOPIA in 1516, he attempted to postulate how human beings could create a society that would be as nearly perfect as possible. At least that is what is commonly believed that he tried to do. For those who have read his book, they immediately see some troubling issues. The first sticky point is to define what he meant by the term "utopia." Did he mean a totally democratic state; such as the ancient Greeks had, in which each citizen had direct voting in all issues? Or perhaps More was simply updating Plato, who saw his Republic as a society governed by a carefully selected breed of rulers who would rule an equally carefully selected brood of subjects? Or again, was More attempting to strike an impossible balance between the burgeoning rise of Renaissance humanism with a stifling set of conflicting Christian religions? It is too easy for moderns to suggest that he was merely holding up Utopia as a fun-house type mirror by which he wished his contemporaries could see themselves reflected as zigzag images and perhaps be ashamed enough--or exhorted enough--to alter their behavior for the better. We today are tempted to judge his meaning by 20th century standards, which do not always draw a clear distinction among the virtues that More's Renaissance contemporaries took for granted but today we dismiss as outdated, or worse, irrelevant.

The book itself has two parts. The first includes More, who places himself in the book as a traveler to Antwerp who meets Peter Giles, who in turn introduces him to Raphael Hythloday, a name that Moore punningly notes that in Greek means "nonsense speaker." Hythloday mentions that he journeyed with Amerigo Vespucci to America and along the way encountered the mythical land of Utopia. This first part is slow reading in that More does little more than discuss some general reforms of potential benefit to England, most of which involved agrarian, economic, judicial, military, and criminal justice matters, all of which obliquely suggest that what worked in Utopia might work in England as well. It is the second part that has generated considerable controversy as to what More really meant his readers to grasp.

For those who come to the second part of UTOPIA and expect a 16th century version of Eden, the results are profoundly shocking. When More details the basic government setup as one in which its citizens are living in a ruthless police state with the death penalty meted out for a variety of reasons, readers suddenly grasp that Utopia may not be all that different from Plato, who similarly envisioned his society as one free from the degenerating influences of poetry and the basic tenets of free speech. When this sobering concept sinks in, then the term "utopia" begins to lose its cache as a synonym for a land of unrivalled happiness. But if these readers look at Utopia through the eyes of More and not their own, then a different Utopia arises. As an educated classicist fully versed in traditional Christian orthodoxy, More was trained to evaluate any social structure according to the non-Christian but humanistic Cardinal Virtues of wisdom, fortitude, temperance, and justice, and then compare these to the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity. More made it clear that both sets of virtues were needed to make Utopia an enduring entity. More was not optimistic enough to truly believe the social inequities in England (or Utopia for that matter) could be so easily eliminated merely by rearranging the pieces of the social pie. What humans of any society needed to ensure genuine freedom from tyranny was mastery of the far more unmanageable Seven Deadly Sins. Of these More suggests that by downplaying the importance of gold, by limiting the nature and amount of material wealth, and by forcing all citizens from the highest to lowest to share in all types of drudgery, that the worst of the sins, Pride, will be vanquished, thus leaving Utopia as ready to endure in the face of what to other and less advanced societies would be tantalizing but deadly temptations.

What emerges then in Utopia is a mythical land based on equally mythical virtues that can house a citizenry such as never existed in human history nor is likely to. But More felt that even if his contemporaries managed to alter for the better their profligate ways, then a small sliver of Utopia might result. For More and perhaps for us today, that might be good enough.


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