- Series: Isis (Hardcover Large Print)
- Hardcover: 206 pages
- Publisher: Transaction Large Print (January 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1560005459
- ISBN-13: 978-1560005452
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 494 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,706,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Utopia (Isis (Hardcover Large Print))
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
The Life of Thomas More is Peter Ackroyd's biography--from baptism to beheading--of the lawyer who became a saint. More, a noted humanist whose friendship with Erasmus and authorship of Utopia earned him great fame in Europe, succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as Lord Chancellor of London at the time of the English Reformation. In 1535, More was martyred for his refusal to support Henry VIII's divorce and break with Rome. Ackroyd's biography is a masterpiece in several senses. Perhaps most importantly, he corrects the mistaken impression that Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons has given two generations of theater and film audiences: More was not, as Bolt's drama would have us believe, a civil disobedient who put his conscience above the law. Ackroyd explains that "conscience was not for More an individual matter." Instead, it was derived from "the laws of God and of reason." If the greatest justice in this book is analytic, however, its greatest joys are descriptive. Ackroyd brings 16th-century London to life for his readers--an exotic world where all of life is enveloped by the church: "As the young More made his way along the lanes and thoroughfares, there was the continual sound of bells." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
According to Ackroyd (Blake; Hawksmoor), More "embodied the old order of hierarchy and authority at the very moment when it began to collapse all around him." Symbolizing that collapse was Henry VIII's defiance of the pope in the "great matter" of his much-desired divorce of Catherine of Aragon. Refusing to compromise with the break from Rome, More willed his own death. He dies well in Ackroyd's narrative, but he does not live a life as saintly as he leaves it, piously amassing wealth and power, piously writing philosophical works as ambiguous as Utopia and as scatological as Responsio, piously harassing religious reformers and smugly condemning them to the stake. As a biographer of More (the first since 1984), Ackroyd is also an effective novelist. He evokes late-medieval London in sight and in smell; sends More on his workaholic schedule of legal, political, diplomatic and courtly activities; exploits familial and hagiographic anecdotes for their story values; and repeats unscholarly untruths (as Luther's cloacal epiphanies) because fiction can be more colorful than fact. Only Henry VIII in Ackroyd's large cast fails to be realized in the round, but the king, recognizing More's loyal services, does "graciously" reduce his sentence from disemboweling to beheading. After an awkward, conditional start ("But it might be more fruitful to recognise... "/ "...but it might be worth rehearsing certain of its aspects... "/ "It has in the past been noticed... "), Ackroyd's clotted language metamorphoses into elegant English, and the nobility of More's demise will move readers who persist to the end. 27 b&w illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club and QPB selections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
More's "Utopia" is the longest and best of the three works presented in this book, at least as far as fleshing out the details of how a utopian civilization would really look, particularly when situated among other civilizations. But, since most people are familiar with it to some degree, I'll discuss the other two writings in more detail.
Bacon's "New Atlantis" is the least satisfying of the three utopian civilizations. First, it isn't complete, barely beginning before it ends. Second, it seems to be more about scientific specialization (i.e. how the New Atlantic culture has made great strides in various fields of science [e.g. agriculture, astronomy]) than about utopian society per se. It is interesting how Bacon relates these islanders, far from Europe, to the famed ancient Atlantean society.
Neville's "Isle of Pines" is an interesting tale of shipwreck and discovery. A ship sinks near the coast of a faraway island, killing everyone except a man with the last name "Pine" and a few women, one of whom is black. What follows is a fascinating story of old/new-world racism and debauchery. Basically, the Pine fellow starts bedding ALL the women (two of whom, if I recall, are sisters) because, you know, they're not getting rescued any time soon and they've got to keep civilization going. Eventually, they all dispense with the wearing of clothes. Then ALL the women get pregnant and turn into baby factories and everyone breeds like rabbits until there are hundreds of people within one or two generations. The interesting tack that Neville takes is that Pine only sleeps with the black woman at night, she "craftily" sneaking into his bed. In addition, her progeny happen to be the bad apples of the island, which is discussed from the perspective of some visiting sailors many years after the shipwreck. Fascinating view into the European mind from several centuries back.
The alphabet and poems at the beginning immediately display the creative and structured thought of More, introduce the island of Utopia, and display the humorous wit of More that will continue to make you chuckle throughout the course of the book.
The letters serve as the background to the authoring of books 1 and 2. It adds a sense of reality to them by describing where the subject matter for the books comes from and creating a pretend internal debate about whether or not a book on Utopia should be written by More at all. More's considerations in that staged internal debate are highly enjoyable to any avid reader.
The real fun to this book is how More uses plays on words, he comments on or uses writings of other classic authors, and he parallels or completely contradicts happenings and/or beliefs his own real life holds. For instance, book 1 weaves together completely fictional characters and situations together with real people, situations, and history that have impacted him in reality (This is the same concept of adding truth to falsehood to make falsehood more believable as is displayed in The DaVinci Code). More's talent is further displayed as he is able to discuss social governance issues in the entertaining and more relatable format of dialogue.
Book 2 describes in depth the structure of the Utopian society. It handles everything from governance within Utopia and relations with societies outside of Utopia to the handling of religion and the growth of morals in society members. While More presents some thought provoking concepts and ideas in this book, he clearly states that they are all based on the assumption that there's no such thing as greed, fear of want, or vanity in Utopia (pg 61).
This particular edition of Utopia comes with a short bio of both author and translator. It also includes a time line of More's life, a helpful introduction, further reading suggestions, a note on the text and translation, an appendix, a glossary, and a multitude of footnotes. If you are not already well versed in Latin, the writings of Greek and Latin philosophers, and English history, than I highly recommend you soak in all this added information from the translator and book editor that is included in this edition both before and while you read Utopia.
My only complaint of this edition is that I don't like flipping back and forth between the text of the novel and the notes in the back. I wish they had put the notes at the bottom of the page. Other than that, I really enjoyed this edition of Utopia and applaud More's witty creativity.
Most recent customer reviews
This is an Easter present for my kids.Read more