In an essay "Of Cannibals," Montaigne gives an account of a primitive tribe of South American Indians; while treating their life style in toto, he pays special attention to their choice of leaders, their mode of warfare, and their treatment of captives. This work is a notable contribution to the vogue of fictionalized travel literature, which includes, in addition to More's Utopia, such works as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels and a host of major and minor later documents. Montaigne's philosophical approach to his subject is revealed in his repeated pointing of contrasts between those simple Indians and "civilized" Europeans with their mechanical progress, their gunpowder, and their Christianity. In almost every instance, civilization comes off second best in matters of rational behavior and especially where man's humanity to man is concerned.
Sir Thomas More was a Londoner from birth. He was born in 1478 in the last flowering of the late Middle Ages Roman Catholic world of that distant day. More was a brilliant student who studied at Oxford and at the law courts of Lincoln Inn. More rose high and became Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII. All was well with Sir Thomas as he served King and Country as lawyer, judge, diplomat, Steward of Oxford and Cambridge, pious Christian layperson and author. His book "Utopia" has become a deserved classic of satire.
Peter Ackroyd is the author of this 400 pages book making it much shorter than the definite biography of Sir Thomas by Richard Marius. Ackroyd portrays More warts and all giving a balanced view of the controversial man's life and times. More and his contemporaries are often quoted using the English of the period. This may prove annoying to many readers who prefer to read about him in a standard English format. This is a fine biography by one of England's best biographers.
The first discussions with Raphael allow him to discuss some of the modern ills affecting Europe such as the tendency of kings to start wars and the subsequent loss of money on fruitless endeavours. He also criticises the use of execution to punish theft, saying thieves might as well murder whom they rob, to remove witnesses, if the punishment is going to be the same. He lays most of the problems of theft on the practice of enclosure—the enclosing of common land—and the subsequent poverty and starvation of people who are denied access to land because of sheep farming.
Equality for all mankind is not a realistic goal in Wells's view. That, he believes, would mean a loss of individuality, and individuality is an inherent requirement of human nature. Similarly, competition is necessary to a thriving society. Taking what he considers a practical position, he sees the new society as divided into four classes of persons which he calls poietic, kinetic, dull, and base. There is a leader caste, called Samurai, which is drawn primarily from the poietic group, though some from the kinetic class may qualify. Persons who volunteer for Samurai membership must meet stringent requirements, both physical and mental; and they must pledge to conform to the rules of the caste, which forbid eating meat, smoking, drinking, gambling, and participation in public sports or entertainments. The Samurai furnish the World State with its administrators, legislators, lawyers, doctors, and other leaders. Furthermore, they are the only voters in the commonwealth. The male members of the Samurai are encouraged to marry women of comparable qualifications, and they are encouraged to produce children with the aim of improving the quality of the population. The lower classes of citizens, the dull witted, the criminals, and the deformed are exiled from society and prevented from childbearing.