The exploration of a South Sea utopian commonwealth is of limited scope because of the author's overriding preoccupation with the sexual relations of the natives, leaving almost entirely unexplained such concerns as governmental organization, legal system, distribution of labor, and methods of warfare. Regarding the economy, we are simply told that there is no private property.
Italy was unquestionably the fountainhead of Renaissance civilization. As early as the 14th century, men of enlightenment, notably Petrarch and Boccaccio, were introducing Renaissance concepts and proclaiming a new allegiance to classical antiquity, and through the 15th century a feverish development toward new attitudes and styles marked the work of brilliant artists, scholars, philosophers, and men of letters. Through most of the 15th century, the achievements were predominantly Italian, but by the beginning of the 16th century the movement was spreading to other countries of western Europe; at the same time that Italy was losing her political independence through conquests by French, Spanish, and Austrian armies, she gradually yielded her preeminence in the arts and letters to France, Spain, and England.
Bacon left this work unfinished, and it is impossible to say how he planned to treat other aspects of life in New Atlantis. He did not discuss the social and governmental systems of the islanders; hence, we do not know what his attitude toward communism was. Marriage was held sacred. His Atlantians exhibited a love of finery in costumes and jewelry that sets them apart from the typical utopians.
These statements occur near the end of Book 1, which began, after some preliminaries, with a conversation about the justice of the death penalty for theft. (In an endnote on page 145, Miller tells of a report from 1587 that "in the reign of Henry VIII alone 72,000 thieves and vagabonds were hanged.") Hythloday believes that theft is a necessary consequence of personal property. Unstated but evident is that he believes also that personal property is not only a sufficient condition for theft (which makes theft a necessary consequence of it), but also a necessary condition for theft (which makes theft contingent upon it). Removing personal property, then, removes the possibility of theft, he believes: with the unexamined assumption that you cannot steal what you already own in common with everyone else. But of course you can: you take it and keep it for yourself so no one else can use it, taking what belongs to everyone, and not sharing it with anyone. Only the coercion of others, through established law or otherwise, can alter this. But then you are back to the existence of theft and social restraints to admonish and respond to it.
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Lost Horizon (1937) is an American drama-fantasy film directed by Frank Capra. It follows the life of wise diplomat who after the plane crash in uncharted regions of Himalayas discovers the perfect utopian city of Shangri La. There he and his crew members struggle with the fact of will they stay in this utopia or return to the real world. This movie adaptation of the novel starred Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and John Howard.
For students wishing to understand fully the extent of interest in the creation of imaginary commonwealths and fascination over accounts by mariners of remote regions, certain other works of fiction not precisely utopian ought to be examined. Examples are: Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Voltaire's Candide (especially the Eldorado episode), Samuel Johnson's Rasselas, Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance, and Herman Melville's Typee.
Looking Backward (1888) by Edward Bellamy, the most successful and influential American author writing in the utopian vein, presents a vision of a glorious future society. Julian West, a young, aristocratic Bostonian, falls asleep under a hypnotic trance in 1887, but through a remarkable set of circumstances, is awakened in the year 2000. His host family in this new age introduces him to their amazing society, explaining their institutions and the rationale for their system.
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