Utopia (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

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 ...
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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:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
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: 9781411433397
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 111,983
  • File size: 412 KB

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

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 53 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2008

    Read This!!

    I just finished this book and talked about it with my college philosophy professor. It is an amazing book that will force you to think on human nature. This book however can not be taken for face value it is not a suggested form of government it is a tale of a world that will never be. Many readers assume it is meant to glorify communism but it is not. In direct translation from latin "utopia" means a nonexistent place. Also, the narrator "Hythloday" means speaker of nonsense or liar. So do not think of government or face value think on the insight into human nature and what we long for but can never be and I promise this will be a true eye opener.

    20 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    Easy Read

    I must say the translation of Utopia by Paul Turner is the best out of all Utopia books out there. Very easy to read, not lengthy and manages to maintain some humor that the original author intended in his book. I would recommend this version of Utopia to anyone who would want to read it for the first time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book that makes you think.

    One of the best I have read. It's funny but it is a catch-22 system.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Perfect World

    The book, Utopia, by Thomas Moore, is a book of great interest to the knowledgeable reader. In order to fully understand the concepts of this book, you must understand the time period and have some notion of government. In some ways the country described is flawed in our sense of today's culture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Short read

    Short read

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  • Posted November 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    My Favorite Book!

    Thomas More's Utopia is my favorite book of all time. I love his use of satire and the description of his Utopian world is so vivid it came to life in my imagination. I enjoyed this book so much that I read through it rather quickly. I hope to have time to reread sometime in then future!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2003

    Satire

    I hope people understand that this is book is a satire and is not to be taken for face value.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2002

    Maybe it is a distopia

    Well after reading this book for the first time, studying it at A level, i found it very difficult to understand at first. But then it became clearer. I would say that it is a blue print to a perfect world but after studying its contents thoughly it became obvious that this world is not so perfect. For example if the world was so perfect why have bond men, i thought the world was perfect and all were equal. If so equal why have syphogrants and those higher than others. It was a good book i must admit but my main concern is why did sir thomas moore doubt that any of this is true at the end of the book he promptly says 'utopian weal public which in our cities i may rather wish for than hope foR' is he meant to say this because i think it puts a downer on the book he of all people doubts his friend hythloday.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2000

    Utopia

    This book has been a very insperation to my own writings and dreams. I only wish that everyone could enjoy this book the way that I have. Also,why can't this book become a reality?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2000

    Thomas More

    Even though Utopia is far-fetched from today's society, More's beautiful and simplistic description of the 'good place' is only for those with the heart and imaginitive possiblities. It is true that nothing could compare to that today, if you can dream, read this. =0)

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    Posted July 1, 2010

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