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A Utopia for all Seasons???

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17.12.2004

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Written by a great man

Disadvantages:
No discussion of ideas in the text

Recommendable Yes:

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10 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
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For those that want to know about the dispute about the meaning of the word "Utopia" please go to the end and start there otherwise continue ....

Plato's "Republic" is a seminal work and being philosophy can be read in any time in history it seems as it deals in ideas and concepts of governance.

"Utopia" by Sir Thomas Moore is not like Plato's "Republic" - I was surprised by this as "Utopia" always seemed that grandiose work by someone who is without doubt a great man (an actual saint in fact). However "Utopia" lacks a purpose because.....

The 1500s were a troubled time and people had to tread exceptionally carefully when dealing in ideas and so this was the reason for the use of a non-existent explorer. Under the pretence of a non-existent explorer recounting his tales of a far away country no one could really dispute that it existed nor dispute the fact that the country was run in the manner which it did.
In this way the Utopian ideas could be told.

Except there are no ideas here only a description of what the country looks like and how it runs. For those wanting a commentary and the whys and wherefores which are discussed throughout "Republic" you will be disappointed. In some ways this means you have to read between the lines and extract the implications of the actions of the people described, but this does mean that this book lacks a purpose really.

On describing property and lifestyle Utopia does nothing more than provide a narrative and if you wanted to you could say the book was a condemnation of the lifestyle. No one has, but that is because Utopia is thought to represent an ideal place. Remove the word "Utopia" and you are left with a description of a place to either love or revile.

This is the problem. I ought to mention that "Utopia" is split into two books and the first book explains nothing about the mythical country. In fact cannot remember really what the first book did say other than introduce the explorer and comment on the greatness of the king (Incidentally this is why some believe More was a ghost-writer for Henry VIII)
If you are finding the language hard just read Book 2 - this is the crux of the work and the language is easier.

I am a little worried this review is not coherent, but on reading this book you will see why the review I wanted to write cannot be done. "Utopia" lacks any discussion and really certain ideas such as
"The fact people only live in a house or 10 years before moving into another leaving their possessions and taking those in the next house" are meaningless as there is no need for it and how this makes the people better I don't know.

Still - as with all conceptual books - of course it is worth reading, but perhaps only Book 2 for some.
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*************************************************
********FOR MEANING READ HERE**********

Now a comment on "Utopia" as a word (which I said I would do)

"Utopia" is an invented word from the Latin words
"Eutopia" meaning 'Good place'
and
"Outopia" meaning 'no place' (pronounced 'otopia')

As you can clearly see the word "Utopia" could mean either and this was enough to prevent censure from the church authorities.

Some people think that "Utopia" means Good place and hence the word "Dystopia" means the opposite "Bad place"
However a dystopia does not mean this necessarily because if Utopia means no place the dystopia could mean an existing place.

So dystopia means bad place, but it is not the opposite of utopia which has a deliberately ambiguous meaning

Some people say that "Utopia" means no place because they pretend to be educated and laugh at people who think it means 'good place' however they are wrong as it means both.
And that is the final word on the matter.


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Comments about this review »

MAFARRIMOND 18.12.2004 16:44

A book I should read. Maureen

petitesquirt 18.12.2004 01:59

I found the book difficult to read ... will have to try again sometime.

flamesparrow 17.12.2004 18:25

With ya now... brain wasn't taking things in properly!!!

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Product details

Type Non-Fiction
Genre Philosophy
Title Utopia
Author Thomas More
ISBN 0140441654
EAN 9780140441659

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This review of Utopia - Thomas More has been rated:

"very helpful" by (58%):

  1. MAFARRIMOND
  2. stuleg
  3. Siobhany

and 4 other members

"helpful" by (42%):

  1. jesi
  2. a-true-ben
  3. Soho_Black

and 2 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.



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