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Utopia Paperback – April 25, 2013
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Ackroyd's efforts to present More and the late medieval ethos are very successful.Read more ›
I think my favorite part was the method the Utopians used to minimize the importance of gold, fine apparel, and money. Gold and jewelry were considered baubles only interesting to children. They marked their slaves by bedecking them with gold. He related a story of a foreign ambassador coming to visit the Utopians. They mistook the gold bedecked ambassador as the slave and the plainly clothed slave as the ambassador and treated each as such.
I highly recommend this relatively short book as a glance into how people in the Middle Ages viewed the ideal society and also as a legitimate look at ongoing social problems. More highlights pride as one of the biggest problems facing society. It appears to be a continuing issue.
It's easy to sum up More's heaven-on-earth in a few words. It portrays a communal, democratic society. It is paradoxically unregulated and tightly regulated - overwhelmingly, More's citizens just want to do what is best for their society, and that covers a remarkably narrow range of possibilities. There are, of course, some who break the laws of the land, and More deals with them harshly. "Harsh" is a relative term, though, and his punishments were hardly harsh in a day when it was a hanging offense to steal a loaf of bread for your starving family. (That's actually the introductory topic, the one that leads up to the description of Utopia.)
It's also a strongly religious society. Religious tolerance is a matter of law, a novelty by the standards of More's day and the standard of his own behavior. 'Tolerance', however, meant tolerance of any monotheism that wasn't too animistic, and certainly didn't tolerate the unreligious.
This translation from More's original Latin is modern and smoothly readable. Even so, I wonder how another translator would have handled some of More's neologistic names, like the unpleasant 'Venalians' who are the Utopians' neighbors. No answer is right, but other renderings may convey more and grate less. Those are quibbles, though. It's a good book as well as being a Great Book, and casts an interesting shadow into modern communism, theocracy, and ideas of the good life. I recommend it highly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the greatest minds to come out of a tumultuous times. Would that more politicians were like this Man For All Seasons.
Mr. Read more
The year 2016 is the five century anniversary of this book, though it was originally pubished in Latin. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Sounds of the Rainforest CD
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that this is a translation from Latin and the translation is necessarily a betrayal of the original text. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
This book didn't hold my interest. I didn't finish reading it. The author has an odd view of utpoia IMO. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jonas Grumby
Thomas More's Utopia often makes the influential classics list but I am at a loss as to why? I can't help but think that if it were not for his fame achieved by disputing with... Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. Matlack
Thomas More put to writing a vision of the ideal society. As with most visions of the ideal society, he had some good ideas that were eventually put in place, but he also had many... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ILikeBooks