Utopia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Utopia, by Sir Thomas More, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a ...
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Utopia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Utopia, by Sir Thomas More, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

One of the most influential books in the Western philosophical and literary tradition, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia appeared in 1516. The formidable Henry VIII had recently assumed the throne in England, and conflicting ideas about religion were fueling the Reformation throughout Europe. A scathing satire, Utopia was hugely successful and vaulted More to the forefront of the growing humanist movement.

The story of Utopia is told by a mysterious sailor named Raphael Hythloday, who travels to the New World with the Italian explorer Vespucci and remains at a fort built at the farthest point reached. From there, he discovers a strange island kingdom named Utopia, a pagan and communist city-state in which language, social customs, dress, architecture, and education are identical throughout the country’s fifty-four cities. The Utopians have eliminated wealth, the nobility, and currency. Labor and goods are distributed equally and property is held in common. And there are no monasteries, alehouses, or academies to tempt a person to withdraw from society.

Given More’s satiric leanings and eventual execution, is Utopia simply an attack on Europe’s wickedness? Or is it a philosophical tract extolling the ideal way to live? Ultimately, Utopia navigates a course between the desire to create perfection and the pragmatic understanding that perfection, given the fallibility of mankind, is impossible.

Wayne A. Rebhorn is Celanese Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written extensively on Renaissance literature in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and Latin, on authors from Boccaccio through More and Shakespeare down to Milton.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593083694
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Wayne A. Rebhorn is Celanese Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written extensively on Renaissance literature in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and Latin, on authors from Boccaccio through More and Shakespeare down to Milton.
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Read an Excerpt

From Wayne A. Rebhorn’s Introduction to Utopia

Omnium horarum homo: a "man for all hours.” That’s what Desiderius Erasmus calls his friend Thomas More. The phrase appears in the letter that serves as the preface for Erasmus’s masterpiece, The Praise of Folly, and is also the source of Robert Bolt’s title for his play and movie about More, A Man for All Seasons. Bolt’s title transforms More into a secular saint, a model of individual integrity, a man "for all seasons”—that is, for all of history. Indeed, the French translated the title of Bolt’s film as Un Homme pour l’éternité, making More into "A Man for Eternity.” This is not, however, what Erasmus meant by the words he penned in 1511, long before More achieved martyrdom, suffering death rather than accept Henry VIII as the head of the Church. Erasmus is actually praising More for being able "to play the man for all hours with everyone.” More is an ideal figure, in other words, because he is adaptable, able to get along with all sorts of people in all sorts of situations and as circumstances change from hour to hour, what Erasmus means by "folly”—that is, a supreme versatility in living life in this world. The historical More certainly possessed such versatility, so that when Erasmus decided to praise "Folly,” or Moria in Greek, it is not surprising that the name of More, Morus in Latin, should have popped into his head not just as an appropriate dedicatee, but as someone who epitomized all the best meanings he attributed to folly in his work.

Erasmus’s compliment to More makes More into a player, someone who knows how "to play—or act—the man” (hominem agere) in every situation. Indeed, in his biography of More, almost the very first thing his son-in-law William Roper does is to praise More’s success at improvisational acting when he was still a young page in the household of the learned John Cardinal Morton: "Though he was young of years, yet would he at Christmastide suddenly sometimes step in among the players, and never studying for the matter, make a part of his own there presently among them, which made the lookers-on more sport than all the players beside.” Even a cursory review of More’s life and works reveals his ability to play many incredibly varied roles, some of which were even opposed to one another. For example, More was a faithful husband and devoted father, but also an ascetic who seriously considered entering a monastery. He was a learned humanist scholar and translator of the classics, but also a propagandist for the Tudor regime and a mud-slinging critic of Luther. More won cases as a clever lawyer and fought to preserve his economic, social, and political status, but he was also a deeply religious devotional writer who looked down on attachments to this world. An impartial and fair-minded negotiator, civil servant, and magistrate, he became an implacable opponent and persecutor of heretics; best known for his role as a lord chancellor who willingly implemented Henry’s policies and paid his royal master almost servile deference, he was also, at the end, a defender of his own conscience against monarchical tyranny. Finally, More stands on the world stage as an unfettered genius capable of imagining brave new worlds in his greatest literary and philosophical achievement, even though he was also an uncompromising defender of received traditions and of an ancient, long-established institution that was deeply opposed to change. Luther once said of Erasmus, complaining of the Dutch humanist’s mutability and contradictoriness, "Erasmus of Rotterdam, where will you stand fast?” He could almost have said the same thing about Thomas More.

More’s complexities and contradictions go to the heart of the Renaissance and the Reformation, the two great cultural upheavals England, like the rest of Europe, experienced in the early decades of the sixteenth century—and would continue to experience for many years after More’s death in 1535. In these two social transformations More played a key role both in what he did and in what he said or wrote. Nor was More merely an important English figure; he was also well known on the European continent, respected everywhere as a humanist writer and political thinker, and, finally, either admired as a martyr for the true faith or disparaged as a fool for not seeing the insufficiency of the Catholic Church.

More’s reputation in the last century has been equally complex and contradictory. The Catholic Church finally beatified him in 1886 and made him a saint in 1935, and many scholars and historians, some Catholic and some not, have admired his deep commitment to his religious faith. His Utopia has been celebrated by others for its relatively egalitarian social structure, its religious tolerance, and its economic system—a system in which all things are held in common and which thus seems to anticipate the ideals of socialism and communism. Indeed, Utopia was one of the first books authorized for translation into Russian after the Communist Revolution in 1917. By contrast, in Bolt’s 1960 A Man for All Seasons, More has turned into a secular saint who defends his "self,” not his "soul,” against tyrannical political authority. Finally, More has been attacked by others as a mediocre statesman and condemned for his servile relationship to Henry, a servility best seen in the exaggerated expressions of deference he made to the King, as recorded in Roper’s Life, while Protestant polemicists have objected to the largely popular press he has enjoyed and have stressed his persecution of heretics, instead.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 101 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2003

    Misunderstanding

    It is a fool who reads Utopia and thinks More a devoted communist. Analyze the names of those involved, the problems of Utopia, and More's as well as Erasmus' humanistic works and it becomes an analysis of the nature of man. The structure of poverty, the effects of property and patronage all create a cycle of despair. Most important of all, his relation to Plato's Republic. Does the philosopher advise the king, or is that a futile endeavor of compromise and corruption. Decide for yourself, but realize that Utopia is a staggering and insightful work, full of wit and humor. It should be read by all philosophers, historians and interested readers.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    Don't miss the point

    I loved this book from begining to end. It is such an insightful look at the human spirt and desires. Moore wrights of a perfect world that is in truth, not perfect. Those that missed the point of the story, that this is a satire of human life, need to reread the story and discuss it with others. The point of the story is to show that even in a perfect world there are inperfections, and no matter how we justify them, someone will always be unhappy. Loved the book, definetly a story high school seniors need to read.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2003

    Wonderfully Written

    In Utopia Thomas More inspired me in his descriptions of a perfect society, and how he later influenced such thinkers as Karl Marx and the Utopian socialist of the 19th century. It is my belief that some thinkers may have mis-interpreted Utopia as somthing it isn't, what it certainly is not, is an outline for goverment, and More attempts to tell us that with his outlandish names for the main characters. If u are not sure on weather or not to buy Utopia i highly reccomend it, for it tells us a story about a place we will never see, but i still dominates our imaginations.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    Wrong book

    This is not Utopia!

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2002

    A book to turn America communistic.

    An excellent book for one who wishes to surrender their mind and body.

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2000

    Dreaming Utopia

    The first half of 'Utopia' is but a history lesson - teaching us 16th-17th century English laws and its obsurdities. The second half of 'Utopia' talks about... Utopia! A world where an idealist lives and an existenlist goes insane (again). To call 'Utopia' the 'best philosophical work ever written', as some other reviewers of this title did; I can't but wonder how many 'philosophical works' has this person actually read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Great book!

    Filled with plenty of scenarios that force you to ponder ethical dilemmas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2012

    BOGUS - NOT UTOPIA? RATHER IT IS KANT ON POLITICS

    Kant is like gagging on a hair ball when expecting St Thomas More!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Not utopia book :(

    I was not happy with this book. I was hoping to read a great book.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    Not so impressed !

    First i thought this was some kind of Robinson Crusoe. Not really. It's a philosophy book, but i don't agree with nothing in this book. I'll stick with Nietzsche or Redbeard. It has some good points, but...i am not impressed by this book.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2002

    Utopia

    I didn't like the entire first book but the second book was exactly what I was looking for. I'd like to move there.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2000

    Nice Book to Dream About

    I had to read this book for one of my English classes. Just by reading the title I knew the book would be something I would enjoy reading. Our professor shared with us that Book 2 of this book was written before Book 1 after we finished reading Book 1. So I thought that was very interesting. A Utopia is the kind of 'perfect world.' But even by the book, it is not a place I would like to live in. The author really does captures the imagination of his characters. When you want to really escape the world, you would want to enter this book 'Utopia' it really helps.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2010

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