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 lesson West learns is that all industry and all institutions are under the control of the national government, a system which, he is informed, has proved to be far more effective than the earlier one of free, private enterprise because of the elimination of wasteful competition. These enormous nationwide political and industrial institutions are structured on the plan of a military organization.
The importance of More's Utopia in the history of utopian literature begins to be clear as we examine the documents published in the century following its publication. Patterns of uniformity and occasional divergences have been displayed. The utopian societies described — without exception — develop systems aiming toward equality and justice. Equality is attained in nearly every instance through community of property and the elimination of money, also through equitable sharing of labor, community rearing of children, and often community dining. Plain, uniform clothing is usually prescribed, and any kind of luxury or ostentation is discouraged, Bacon's New Atlantis excepted. The governments are made up of carefully selected elders of demonstrated character and competence. Variations appear in connection with the question of community of women, proposed by Plato but rejected by More. Campanella and some later writers follow Plato but most follow More. The acceptance of slavery in the community, approved by both Plato and More, is not adopted by their followers.
Yet, the puzzle is that some of the practices and institutions of the Utopians, such as the ease of divorce, euthanasia and both married priests and female priests, seem to be polar opposites of More's beliefs and the teachings of the Catholic Church of which he was a devout member. Another often cited apparent contradiction is that of the religious tolerance of Utopia contrasted with his persecution of Protestants as Lord Chancellor. Similarly, the criticism of lawyers comes from a writer who, as Lord Chancellor, was arguably the most influential lawyer in England. It can be answered, however, that as a pagan society Utopians had the best ethics that could be reached through reason alone, or that More changed from his early life to his later when he was Lord Chancellor.
Thomas More lived from 1477 to 1535. He was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1535 for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. Utopia, written in Latin, was published in 1516. It was translated to English by Ralph Robinson in 1551. The translation by Clarence Miller was published by Yale University Press in 2001. [This review is based on the Miller translation.]
Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) is a science fiction thriller film, which was adapted from the novel "Colossus" by Dennis Feltham Jones. This classic SF movie describes the events that happened when the powerful supercomputer (which controlled military defense capabilities of both Soviet Union and the USA) became sentient and held the entire world as a hostage in its quest to secure world peace.
Other significant innovations of Utopia include: a welfare state with free hospitals, euthanasia permissible by the state, priests being allowed to marry, divorce permitted, premarital sex punished by a lifetime of enforced celibacy and adultery being punished by enslavement. Meals are taken in community dining halls and the job of feeding the population is given to a different household in turn. Although all are fed the same, Raphael explains that the old and the administrators are given the best of the food. Travel on the island is only permitted with an internal passport and any people found without a passport are, on a first occasion, returned in disgrace, but after a second offence they are placed in slavery. In addition, there are no lawyers and the law is made deliberately simple, as all should understand it and not leave people in any doubt of what is right and wrong.
Gattaca is a science fiction film directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law. It depicts the life in the futuristic dystopian Earth society, in which quality genetic makeup controls the destiny of every person. The main protagonist Vincent was born in an old-fashioned way. He is seen as genetically inferior and is doomed to a life of servitude. He tries to change his destiny by buying identity of Jerome Eugene Morrow, a potential swimming star whose career ended in a car accident.
The one major work preceding More's in the field was Plato's Republic. Its influence on Utopia is extensive and unmistakable. To begin with, the central theme of both works is the search for justice. In the Republic, the rulers are to be a group of intelligent, unselfish men called the guardians or philosopher-kings, who conduct public affairs for the good of the whole nation. The principle of community of property is in effect: "No man calls anything his own." Gold and silver coinage is outlawed, and there is a rigid proscription against luxury and ostentation. Throughout the society, life is directed by a highly moral code of conduct. An educational system for the intelligentsia is elaborately and idealistically designed. Equality of men and women is proposed in both works, though with certain qualifications. There is allowance made in Plato's scheme for the practice of slavery, as there is in More's. There are, on the other hand, departures from Plato in Utopia, some quite radical. The Republic establishes sharply defined class distinctions — the ruling intelligentsia; the warrior class; commoners, consisting of merchants, artisans, and laborers; and finally, at the lowest level, the slaves. Utopians recognize no such gradations among their citizens. The religious beliefs and practices in the two books are, of course, quite different. There is also a sharp difference in the treatment of families. In the Republic, women and children are held in common — "there is no marrying nor giving in marriage" — and mating is regulated to serve eugenic ends; whereas in Utopia, the family unit is the core of the entire social structure.
Men Like Gods (1923) by H. G. Wells – Men and women in an alternative universe without world government in a perfected state of anarchy ("Our education is our government," a Utopian named Lion says;) sectarian religion, like politics, has died away, and advanced scientific research flourishes; life is governed by "the Five Principles of Liberty," which are privacy, freedom of movement, unlimited knowledge, truthfulness, and freedom of discussion and criticism.
“ [A] permanent possibility of selfishness arises from the mere fact of having a self, and not from any accidents of education or ill-treatment. And the weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones. They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motor-car or balloon. ”
Utopia (1516) by Thomas More represents one of the most important books in the European humanism. Through his book, he described fictional pagan, communist city-state that was governed by reason, and addressed the issues of religious pluralism, women's rights, state-sponsored education, colonialism, and justified warfare. Book greatly popularized the concept of "utopias", and was one of the biggest influences in the works of many philosophers, novelists and movements.
In George Orwell's 1984 (1949), the society of the year 1984 which Orwell projects for us is based on the assumption that a "limited" nuclear war of the 1950s had left civilization severely crippled and that government controls were seized by well-organized opportunists employing the familiar methods of a police state to maintain power. London, the scene of the novel's action, is the capital of Oceania, one of three superpowers. The other superpowers are called Eastasia and Eurasia. The city of London contains a few enormous government buildings and a small number of fine apartment buildings, but the vast majority of the buildings are eighteenth- or nineteenth-century houses in dilapidated condition which provide shelter for the common people. There are also a good many neglected bombed-out areas. Certainly this is not a picture of somebody's dream city.
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.
One of the first signs of renewed enlightenment in England, after the rude and bloody 15th century, was the appearance of a group of "humanist" scholars that flourished at Oxford and in London in the early decades of the 16th century, notably John Colet, William Latimer, Thomas Linacre, Reginald Pole, and Thomas More — a group that Erasmus pronounced both congenial and distinguished.