A Traveler from Altruria (1894) by William Dean Howells is a utopian novel that describes the differences between the late 19th century US and fictional island of Altruria. During the novel, visitor from Altruria compares the lifestyle of those two countries, discovering that US is still lagging in the political, economic, cultural, or moral aspects of life. This critique of capitalism and its consequences was greatly influenced by the previous utopian works - The City of the Sun, New Atlantis, Looking Backward and News from Nowhere.
Considerable emphasis is given to scientific experimentation, aimed at improving industry, health, and general living conditions. To that end a great laboratory for the natural sciences is operated, and an exhibition hall of science, industry, and the arts offers educational opportunities through scale models of machinery and mural paintings similar to those in the City of the Sun.
Hythloday, speaking in Book 1, agrees with Plato and the people of Utopia that "as long as everyone has his own property, there is no hope of curing them and putting society back into good condition." (48) More disagrees and believes, along with Aristotle and Aquinas, "that no one can live comfortably where everything is held in common. For how can there be any abundance of goods when everyone stops working because he is no longer motivated by making a profit, and grows lazy because he relies on the labors of others." (48)

Utopia has a quality of universality, as revealed by the fact that it has fascinated readers of five centuries, has influenced countless writers, and has invited imitation by scores of "Utopianists." Still, however, an examination of the period of which it was the product is necessary in order to view the work in depth. Remembering that Utopia was published in 1516, we need to recall what some of the major events associated with that era were, who More's great contemporaries were, and what were the principal ideas and drives that framed the cultural patterns of that brilliant era, the Renaissance.
The text of Utopia is in two books. Book 1 was written after Book 2. It is in Book 2 that the society of the place named `Utopia' is described by a traveler, Raphael Hythloday, who through his travels had lived there for a time and has returned to England to report on what he learned. Book 1 is a lead-in to Book 2 and was probably intended to establish interest in the subject of Book 2. The narrative form of Book 1 is a conversation of Hythloday with Thomas More and Peter Giles, and of Book 2 the form is a monologue by Hythloday.
Denis Diderot's Supplement to Bougainville's "Voyage" (1772) is a prime example of the eighteenth-century vogue of primitivism which was spurred by Rousseau's thesis of the "noble savage" and which generated such novels as St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia and Chateaubriand's Atala. Diderot's book makes a case for the simple, natural ways of a South Sea Island culture as reported by Bougainville, a French explorer. The central portion of the story presents an imaginary dialogue between a French chaplain and a native of Tahiti (Orou) in which a comparison is made between the customs and institutions of Europe and those of Tahiti. The way of life of the islanders is eloquently defended, and that of the Europeans discredited. According to the Tahitian, man's natural instincts, which are equated with the laws of nature, are interpreted as justifying complete freedom in sexual relations. Their observance of community property is defended as minimizing personal conflicts and legal entanglements and promoting a general concern for the welfare of the community as a whole.
×