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Another World and Yet the Same: Bishop Joseph Hall's "Mundus Alter et Idem" (Yale studies in English) Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Series: Yale studies in English (Book 190)
  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300026137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300026139
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,142,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, Latin

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Format: Hardcover
For students of Neo-Latin or of eutopian/dystopian literature, this is an essential text. The translation is well done and the notes are very helpful. Highly recommended. The narrator of this work, Mercurius Britannicus, makes a voyage of exploration to the great southern continent, south and west of South America, where he visits four nations, Crapulia, Viraginia, Moronia, Lavernia, whose inhabitants embody the opposite of the four traditional virtues: temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice. Crapulia (Latin crapula - drunkenness or hangover) is the land of gluttons, gourmands, and drunkards. Viraginia or Gynia Nova (Latin virago - female warrior) is the home of the damnable regiment of women, where the men are effeminate, not brave. Moronia is the land of fools; their chief is Il Buffonio Ottimo Massimo, a satirical portrait of the Pope. Lavernia (Laverna, the Roman goddess of thieves) is the land of thieves of various types. The name of one of Lavernia's provinces, Plagiana, gave "plagiarism" to the English language.
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Obviously, as the translator and editor of this book I am prejudiced in its favor, but I do think it's a book that more people should know about. Written in Latin in 1605, it attempts to show that travel may not lead one to more wonderful lands; in fact, many of the lands one visits may actually be repulsive places. Mercurius Britannicus, the narrator of this book, travels to four very repulsive lands, including a land of gluttons and drunkards, a land of fools, and a land of thieves and mountebanks. In each place he visits, there are recognizable parallels to places rather close to home, places Europeans would know rather well. For example, in the first land he visits, the ruler is chosen by weight and the circumference of his stomach. Should he at any time lose weight, he is immediately deposed, and the crown handed to the next most corpulent leader. Americans, who have been subjected to senators, governors, and presidents who have little to recommend them, should see this hyperbole as applicable to our own government. (And the parallels to Germany's Oktoberfest are obviously intentional.) Written some 89 years after More's Utopia, it is the first dystopia--a genre that has led to such wonderful modern works as Brave New World and 1984. Generally available only in libraries (only 800 copies were printed), it's worth reading if you can find it.
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