Utopia (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions)

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9780393932461: Utopia (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions)

Inspiring, provocative, prophetic, and enigmatic, Utopia is the literary masterpiece of a visionary statesman and one of the most influential books of the modern world.

Based on Thomas More’s penetrating analysis of the folly and tragedy of the politics of his time and all times, Utopia (1516) is a seedbed of alternative political institutions and a perennially challenging exploration of the possibilities and limitations of political action.

This Norton Critical Edition is built on the translation that Robert M. Adams created for it in 1975. For the Third Edition, George M. Logan has carefully revised the translation, improving its accuracy while preserving the grace and verve that have made it the most highly regarded modern rendering of More’s Renaissance Latin work.

“Backgrounds” includes a wide-ranging selection of the major secular and religious texts―from Plato to Amerigo Vespucci―that informed More’s thinking, as well as a selection of the responses to his book by members of his own humanist circle and an account by G. R. Elton of the condition of England at the time More wrote.

“Criticism” now offers a more comprehensive survey of modern scholarship, adding excerpts from seminal books by Frederic Seebohm, Karl Kautsky, and Russell Ames, as well as selections from stimulating and influential recent readings by Dominic Baker-Smith and Eric Nelson. In the final section, on “Utopia’s Modern Progeny,” the opening chapter of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is now complemented by excerpts from another great work in the complex tradition of utopian and dystopian fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Throughout the Third Edition, the editorial apparatus has been thoroughly revised and updated.

An updated Selected Bibliography is also included.

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Review:

The Life of Thomas More is Peter Ackroyd's biography--from baptism to beheading--of the lawyer who became a saint. More, a noted humanist whose friendship with Erasmus and authorship of Utopia earned him great fame in Europe, succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as Lord Chancellor of London at the time of the English Reformation. In 1535, More was martyred for his refusal to support Henry VIII's divorce and break with Rome. Ackroyd's biography is a masterpiece in several senses. Perhaps most importantly, he corrects the mistaken impression that Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons has given two generations of theater and film audiences: More was not, as Bolt's drama would have us believe, a civil disobedient who put his conscience above the law. Ackroyd explains that "conscience was not for More an individual matter." Instead, it was derived from "the laws of God and of reason." If the greatest justice in this book is analytic, however, its greatest joys are descriptive. Ackroyd brings 16th-century London to life for his readers--an exotic world where all of life is enveloped by the church: "As the young More made his way along the lanes and thoroughfares, there was the continual sound of bells." --Michael Joseph Gross

Book Description:

Thomas More's Utopia is one of the supreme achievements of Renaissance humanism. His complex and ironic account of an imaginary communist society has not only given rise to the genre of utopian fiction but has been an inspiration to generations of political reformers.

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