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Utopian Thought in the Western World (Belknap Press) Hardcover – October 31, 1979

ISBN-13: 978-0674931855 ISBN-10: 0674931858 Edition: First Edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A masterwork of impeccable scholarship--brilliant, profound, extraordinarily wide-ranging, and altogether engrossing. Bound to be the definitive book on its complex subject for a long, long time. (Robert K. Merton)

A magnificent achievement in the history of ideas, combining sharp historical analysis with vivid intellectual portraits and elegance of style. (Max Lerner)

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A masterwork of impeccable scholarship--brilliant, profound, extraordinarily wide-ranging, and altogether engrossing. Bound to be the definitive book on its complex subject for a long, long time. (Robert K. Merton) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Belknap Press
  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; First Edition edition (October 31, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674931858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674931855
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,611,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"The great utopians have been our great realists." With this powerful insight the Manuels embark on a journey of 2,500 years which leaves the mind spinning. From Plato's Mediterranean Republic to More's island of Utopia; from Bacon's New Atlantis to Marx's Paradise of the Proletariat; and from Campanella's City of the Sun to McLuhan's Global Village, the utopian instinct has set in motion a series of visions which have been the key drivers behind major social and scientific accomplishments in the western world.
In chronicling what they call "the utopian propensity of mind," the Manuels essentially create a new genre, at once literary and philosophical. At its broadest, it would reach into the religious sphere - the "utopian moments" of Eastern Enlightenments, the Revelations of St. John on the island of Patmos. But the Manuels, wisely, pull back from the cosmic view to the generally secular, social, visions of a better world on earth.
The best utopians are realists, in that they focus the fire of their vision on the concrete specifics of this world, transporting them into the framework of an ideal universe. The vision, to quote a poet, is that of "real toads in imaginary gardens." Setting out from points of contact in the real world, they move into uncharted territories and terrains, places where no one has yet gone. Etymologically, "Utopia" is the Great Good Place which is No Place. Chimerical, fantastic, improbable, and motivating, Utopias are the engines behind our evolutionary imaginations.
At 900 pages and 17 pounds, this beautifully written, erudite and witty book from the 1970s is an unrecognized national treasure, waiting, like some ancient artifact of utopia itself, to be uncovered and released to the world.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John C. Landon on August 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This massive volume is one of the best on the subject of utopian themes and literature. The discredit foisted on the genre in the wake of Communism makes us forget the rich literature of the early modern, beginning with More, and proceeding through such figures as Harrington and many others. The rich detail of this history is beautifully summoned from its cultural archive, and the best critique of this art-form is not the obsessive "I'm alright Jack" of conservatives but the actual exploration of the history.
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Utopian Thought in the Western World (Belknap Press)
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