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Utopía

Utopía

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Utopía

Bewertungen:
3/5 (1,124 Bewertungen)
Länge:
128 Seiten
2 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 28, 2014
ISBN:
9786050339093
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

"Utopía", cuyo nombre original en latín es "Libellus . . . De optimo reipublicae statu, deque nova insula Vtopiae" (en español, "Libro Del estado ideal de una república en la nueva isla de Utopía") es un libro escrito por Tomás Moro y publicado en 1516.


El libro consta de dos partes. La primera es un diálogo que gira principalmente en torno a cuestiones filosóficas, políticas y económicas en la Inglaterra contemporánea al autor y la segunda parte es la narración que uno de los personajes del diálogo realiza de la isla de Utopía.


El nombre de la isla fue inventado por Moro y los estudiosos de su obra le atribuyen dos orígenes, ambos del griego. Uno es "ou", que significa "no" y el otro "eu", que significa "bueno". En ambos casos, el prefijo se complementa con la palabra "topos", que se traduce como "lugar".


Aunque con el paso del tiempo el término utopía se haya popularizado como sinónimo de perfección, u objetivo inalcanzable, Tomás Moro no le atribuye explícitamente ese significado en su obra.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 28, 2014
ISBN:
9786050339093
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor


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Utopía - Tomás Moro

Libro Primero

Plática de Rafael Hitlodeo sobre la mejor de las Repúblicas

El muy invicto y triunfante Rey de Inglaterra, Enrique Octavo de su nombre, Príncipe incomparable dotado de todas las regias virtudes, había tenido recientemente una disputa sobre negocios graves y de grande importancia con Carlos, el poderoso Rey de Castilla, y, para conciliar las diferencias, me mandó Su Majestad como embajador a Flanders, en compañía del sin par Cuthbert Tunstall, a quien el Soberano, con gran contento de todos, acababa de dar el oficio de Guardián de los Rollos. Por temor a que den poco crédito a las palabras que salen de la boca de un amigo, no diré nada en alabanza de la prudencia y el saber de ese hombre. Mas son tan conocidos sus méritos que, si yo pretendiera loarlos, parecería que quisiese mostrar y hacer resaltar la claridad del sol con una vela, como dice el proverbio.

Como se había convenido de antemano, en Brujas encontramos a los mediadores del Príncipe, todos ellos hombres excelentes. El jefe y cabeza de los mismos era el Margrave —como le llaman allí— de Brujas. varón esclarecido; pero el más ilustrado y famoso de éllos era Jorge Temsicio, Preboste de Cassel, eminente jurisconsulto, inteligente y con grande experiencia de los negocios, hombre que, por su saber, y también porque la naturaleza le había hecho ese don, hablaba con singular elocuencia. Celebramos luego un par de conferencias y no pudimos ponernos enteramente de acuerdo sobre ciertas estipulaciones, por lo que ellos se despidieron de nosotros y se marcharon a Bruselas para saber cuál era la voluntad de su Príncipe.

Yo, mientras tanto, me fuí a Amberes, porque así lo requerían mis negocios.

Estando en aquella localidad vinieron a visitarme varias personas, pero la más agradable visita para mí fue la que me hizo Pedro Egidio, ciudadano de Amberes, hombre que en su patria gozaba fama de ser íntegro y honrado a carta cabal, muy estimado entre los suyos y digno aún de mayor consideración. Es sabio, es virtuoso, sabe mostrarse amable con toda suerte de personas ; pocos jóvenes habrá que le aventajen en eso. Para sus amigos tiene un corazón de oro; es con ellos afectuoso, leal y sincero; no se le puede comparar con nadie. No puede ser más humilde y cortés. Nadie como él usa menos del fingimiento o del disimulo, nadie tiene una sencillez más prudente. Además, su compañía amable, su alegre afabilidad, hicieron que su trato y su conversación mitigaran la tristeza que me embargaba por hallarme lejos de mi patria, de mi esposa y de mis hijos, y apagaron, en parte, mi ferviente deseo de volver a verlos después de una separación que duraba más de cuatro meses.

Cierto día, luego de haber oído misa en la iglesia de Nuestra Señora , que es el templo más hermoso y concurrido de toda la ciudad, cuando me disponía a volver a mi posada, tuve le fortuna de ver al antes mentado Pedro Egidio hablando con un desconocido de avanzada edad, rostro curtido por el sol, luengas barbas, terciada la capa al hombro con descuido, todo lo cual me dió a entender que su dueño debía de ser marino. Vióme Pedro, acercóse a mí v me saludó. Iba yo a responderle cuando, señalando al hombre con quien le había visto conversar antes, me dijo:

—Tenía la intención de llevarlo en derechura a vuestra casa.

—Le hubiera recibido bien por traerlo vos —repliqué.

—Diríais que por sí mismo, si le conocierais. Nadie como él, entre los hombres que viven hoy, podría contaros tantas cosas acerca de los países y hombres incógnitos. Y yo sé lo mucho que os gusta oír hablar de esto.

—Veo que acerté, porque a primera vista le juzgué marino.

—Pues os habéis equivocado. Cierto es que ha navegado, mas no como el marino Palinuro, sino como el hábil y prudente Príncipe Ulises; más bien como el sabio filósofo de la antigüedad Platón. Porque este mismo Rafael Hytlodeo conoce tan bien la lengua latina como la griega. Es mejor helenista que latinista, pues se entregó al estudio de la Filosofía y sabe que los latinos no han escrito libros eminentes, salvo algunos pocos de Séneca y de Cicerón. Es portugués y dejó la hacienda que tenía en su tierra natal a sus hermanos. Luego se unió a Américo Vespucio, pues tenía el deseo de ver y conocer los países remotos del mundo. Acompañó a éste en los tres últimos viajes de los cuatro que hizo, cuya relación se lee ya por todas partes. No volvió con él de su último viaje. Tanto porfió Hytlodeo en quedarse con los veinticuatro hombres que dejaba allí Vespucio, que éste, contra su voluntad, hubo de darle la licencia que le pedía. Quedóse, pues, allí como era su gusto, pudiendo más en él su afición a los viajes y a las aventuras que el temor a morir en tierra extraña. Siempre tiene en los labios estas dos máximas: El Cielo cubrirá a quien no tenga sepultura y El camino que conduce al Cielo tiene igual largura y está a la misma distancia desde todas partes. Esta fantasía suya le hubiera podido costar cara si Dios no hubiese sido siempre su mejor amigo. Después de haberse marchado Vespucio, viajó atravesando muchas regiones en compañía de cinco de sus compañeros. Con maravillosa fortuna arribó a Taprobana, y de allí se fue a Calicut, donde halló naves lusitanas que lo devolvieron a su patria.

Luego que Pedro me hubo contado todo esto, le di las gracias por haberme deparado la ocasión de tener un coloquio con un hombre así —plática que tan agradable y beneficiosa me iba a resultar— y me volví a Rafael. Nos saludamos uno a otro y dijimos aquellas cosas que se dicen al trabar conocimiento. Después fuimos a mi casa, y allí, en el jardín, nos sentamos en un banco de verde hierba cubierto y nos pusimos a platicar juntos.

Nos refirió Rafael cómo, después de la partida de Vespucio, él y los compañeros que se quedaron allí lograron ganar poquito a poco, con suaves y persuasivos discursos, la amistad y los favores de los naturales del país, y entablar con ellos relaciones, no sólo de paz, sino familiares, y hacerse gratos a cierto personaje principal, cuyos nombre y nación he olvidado, la liberalidad del cual les procuró todo lo que habían menester para proseguir su viaje: barcas para cruzar las corrientes de agua, carros para ir por los caminos. Dióles además un guía fiel, que había de llevarlos hasta los otros Príncipes.

Así, después de muchas jornadas, hallaron ciudades y Repúblicas llenas de gente y gobernadas por muy justas leyes. Bajo la línea equinoccial, y a ambos lados de la misma, hasta donde llega el sol en su carrera, hállanse los vastos desiertos, abrasados y secos por razón del perenne e insufrible calor. Allí, todas las cosas son feas, espantosas, aborrecibles, y no gusta mirarlas. Viven fieras y serpientes y algunos hombres no menos crueles, feroces y salvajes que aquéllas. Mas algo más allá todas las cosas empiezan a hacerse más agradables poco a poco; el aire es suave y templado, el suelo está cubierto de verde hierba y son menos feroces las bestias. Y por fin vuelven a hallarse gentes y ciudades que hacen continuamente el tráfico de mercaderías, tanto por mar como por tierra, no solamente entre ellos y con las comarcas vecinas, sino también con los mercaderes de los países remotos. Tuvo ocasión de ir a muchos países, pues todas las naves que estaban prestas a hacerse a la vela recibían con agrado a Hytlodeo y a sus compañeros. Las primeras naves que vieron teman ancha y plana la carena; las velas estaban hechas de papiros o de mimbres y aun a veces de cuero. Después las hallaron con velas de cáñamo y las quillas terminadas en punta; finalmente hallaron otras en todo semejante a las nuestras.

Los marinos eran también muy diestros y hábiles; sabían bien las cosas del mar y las del cielo. Rafael ganó su amistad enseñándoles el uso de la aguja magnética, que desconocían hasta entonces, pues eran temerosos del mar, en el cual. sólo se arriesgaban durante el estío. Mas ahora tienen tal confianza en esa aguja que no temen ya el tempestuoso invierno; se arriesgan más de lo debido, y bien pudiera ser que lo que ellos juzgaron un bien les traiga, por imprudencia suya, los mayores males.

Sería muy larga la narración de las cosas que Hytlodeo nos contó acerca de lo que había visto en las tierras en que él había estado. Tampoco es mi propósito narrarlas aquí. Tal vez hablaré de ello en otro libro, principalmente de lo que es útil que sea conocido, como son las leyes y ordenanzas que, según él, han sido prudentemente dictadas para que sean cumplidas en aquellos pueblos, que viven juntos en buen orden merced a su sistema de gobierno. Le preguntamos largamente sobre tales extremos, y él, con suma amabilidad, satisfizo nuestra curiosidad. Mas no le hicimos preguntas acerca de los monstruos, porque eso ya no es nuevo. Nada es más fácil de hallar que las aulladoras Escilas, las voraces Celenos, los Lestrigones devoradores de hombres u otros grandes e increíbles monstruos como esos. Pero es extremadamente raro encontrar ciudadanos gobernados mediante buenas leyes. Aunque Rafael vió en aquellas tierras recientemente descubiertas, bastantes instituciones extravagantes e insensatas, notó en cambio otras muchas de las que pueden tomar ejemplo nuestras ciudades, naciones, pueblos y reinos para enmendar sus faltas, sus enormidades y sus errores. De esto, como ya tengo dicho, trataré en otro lugar.

Ahora sólo me propongo referir lo que nos contó acerca de las costumbres, leyes y ordenanzas de los Utópicos. Mas antes debo explicar por qué discurso llegamos a tratar de aquella República. Hytlodeo consideraba con gran discreción las cosas malas que había podido ver acá y allá; la mejor que en ambas partes había visto, y se mostraba tan profundo conocedor de las costumbres y Ieyes de los diversos países, que parecía haber pasado toda su vida en cada uno de ellos. Suspenso ante semejante hombre, dijo Pedro:

—En verdad, maese Rafael, que me sorprende grandemente que no os halléis sirviendo a algún Rey, pues estoy cierto de que no hay ningún Príncipe a quien no fuerais grato en seguida, ya que podríais agradarle con vuestra profunda experiencia y vuestro conocimiento de los hombres y de los países. Instruirle con muchos ejemplos y ayudarle con vuestros consejos. Si esto hicieseis, os darían un buen empleo, y podríais proteger a la vez a vuestros amigos y parientes.

—En lo tocante a mis parientes y amigos —respondió— no tengo de qué preocuparme, pues ya he hecho mucho por ellos. Los demás hombres no se desprenden de sus bienes de fortuna hasta que se sienten viejos y enfermos, y aun entonces, pese a que no pueden usarlos, no renuncian a ellos de muy buen grado. Yo, estando todavía en la flor de mi juventud y sano, repartí los míos entre mis amigos y parientes, y creo que estarán contentos de mi liberalidad y que no querrán después que me haga esclavo de un Rey.

—¡Dios me libre de proponeros que os esclavicéis! —dijo Pedro — Hablo de servir nada más. Creo que sería el

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1124 Bewertungen / 28 Rezensionen
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  • (3/5)
    Utopia describes a different Commonwealth lifestyle. Would this lead to happiness? It's tough to say. Read it and see what you think.
  • (4/5)
    I loved the dialogue in book 1; Raphael is really quite woke. While the structure of Utopia itself was interesting, I would have rather liked a story rather than a textbook explanation. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable.
  • (5/5)
    One of the classic that has withstood the critics throughout the years. It was written in 1516. The work was written in Latin and it was published in Louvain (present-day Belgium). Utopia is a work of satire, indirectly criticizing Europe's political corruption and religious hypocrisy. Many believe it may had been a major influence of the Protestant Reformation which begun the following year in 1517. Many later works has been based upon it.
  • (4/5)
    Utopia is the book that put the word "utopia" in our lexicon. Utopia, the word, is generally used to describe a place in which everything is a happy land where everybody is happy, and life is relatively easy. Like most children's fiction, where even the most dastardly of villains is just a litterbug or a liar, and he or she learns a valuable lesson before too many pages have passed.The book itself is written as a frame story in which More is telling others about his visit of a man named Raphael (though his last name depends on which translation you're reading), who told him about this wonderful island in the New World called Utopia, in which everybody is happy, even the slaves!Raphael goes on to explain the aspects of this island, and how it works, presenting a sort of proof-of-concept for better living (hint, hint, you new, developing nations in the New World!).No study of utopian writing is complete without at least starting here, so this book is highly recommended to any utopian (or even dystopian) reading schedule. It's also highly recommend if you like philosophical writing, and are looking for some great new ideas to consider.
  • (4/5)
    Utopia is a work written by Thomas More in response to the grave inequality and injustice in 16th Century England. It is difficult to take seriously, unlike the Politics and the Republic, as though it borrows heavily from ancient Greek thought, it is concerned more with satirising and correcting the problems of the times than with philosophising and arguing towards something absolutely ideal. This is made obvious in several ways: the account of Utopia is given by a traveler who has supposedly been there, and the names of the country, the cities, rivers, people, etcetera are all jokes, several of the policies in the country are merely told to ridicule current western practice, and many of the details are capricious and not given reasons for.Underlying the satire is a serious message though, that through equality, fair dealing, and general niceness, general happiness can be achieved. Utopia seems less practical than other works on ideal states, as well as less ideal, but as a commentary on 16th Century England it excels. To understand the reasoning behind this book it only needs to be understood in context. Contemporary England was unfair, property was being taken from the peasants by the thousands, to use to pasture sheep to make money for the government and the wealthy via the wool trade. This lead to a large proportion of the population being homeless and without means to survive, they turned to crime to survive and in turn were hanged for petty crimes, while the rich were living it up and swaggering round in fine clothes and jewels.More being an all round good egg disliked this, and this is why an essentially communist system is advocated here, communism being an improvement on severe feudalism, and blind equality being an improvement on gross inequality. The state described here would have seemed close to perfection for the average inhabitant of England at the time, but it doesn't stand up today in comparison to the superior systems described in the more rationally thought out Greek political writings. More gets away with it though, and this remains a worthwhile read, as a satire and a work of humour it compensates for its theoretical failings. What lets it down politically are the extreme socialist and communist values, which just don't strike me as satisfying. I prefer the proportionate equality described in Aristotle's Politics, and don't believe a system where everyone is treated exactly the same would work. More when writing this did not intend it to be taken completely seriously, but it is hard to tell quite where he is joking and where he is serious; this probably lessens its worth as a piece of political philosophy, but on the whole makes it more enjoyable a read.
  • (4/5)
    The word "utopia" was coined by More for his book from Greek for "no" and "place." There's some controversy as to whether this work is meant as serious or satire. Given not just the name of no place but things like the explanation of why the island is not reachable (someone coughed when the location was announced) I suspect the later. Moreover, this ideal state seems notably radical for a man who was famously a very orthodox Catholic. There's equality between the sexes (sorta), divorce, married and women priests, sanctioned euthanasia and religious tolerance (sorta). And it's a state without lawyers imagined by a man for whom that was his profession. I can't imagine from all I know of the man that what he presents is his ideal. I think it's more satire, more fanfic of Plato's Republic, than serious prescription. I mean c'mon, the slaves' chains are made of gold, children use jewels as playthings? Even the surname of the narrator, Raphael Hythloday, means "spreader of nonsense." Anyone really think More meant this all seriously? It's certainly not my ideal. Utopia is a republic that elects it's leaders. But like Plato's ideal republic it's one where lives are very tightly controlled. Where people live and their work is chosen by the state; there's no private ownership, no privacy, internal passports, sexual mores are legally enforced. There's even slavery--prisoners of war and people who have violated any of the republic's tyrannical laws. It sounds closer to China during Mao's cultural revolution than anyplace I'd want to live in. About the only aspects I can see as positive are the (relatively) egalitarian relationships between the sexes, the (relative) religious tolerance, the idea of keeping laws few and simple so that all could understand, and elected leadership. Which goes to show, one person's utopia is another's dystopia. Part of why I'm skeptical of utopias left and right--they often seem to crush too many individuals along the way to perfection, and I don't know what I'd find more horrifying, what you'd have to do to reach this utopia, or what it would be like to live under it--although goodness knows, we came close enough during the 20th century and it wasn't pretty. But what I'm reviewing and rating is not this imagined society, but this book about imagined societies. And I do love the idea of this kind of thought experiment, even if often I find attempts to create them (or at least impose them) wholesale the source of much evil. More might even agree with me. Given the satiric elements, I do think this is more about how utopias are unworkable than admirable. And you know, I think More gets it. There's this passage, said by the the character representing More himself:I don't believe you'd ever have a reasonable standard of living under a communist system. There'd always tend to be shortages, because nobody would work hard enough. In the absence of a profit motive, everyone would become lazy, and rely on everyone else to do work for him. Then, when things really got short, the inevitable result would be a series of murders and riots, since nobody would have any legal method of protecting the products of his own labour.That. Or they just starve to death. So I suspect those criticizing More as a commie are missing the mark. Some also complain this is a slog. Yet there is wit and humor here, and though some parts were tedious, well, it is short--only 134 paperback pages, not including notes, in my edition. Also More might have been an Englishman, but he wrote the book in Latin, so that means if you're reading it in English it's a translation. The first such translations didn't appear until after More's death. So if you're suffering from one with Middle English affectations, that's not More's fault--it's the translation you picked. I definitely think whatever you think of More's imaginary land, encountering these ideas are worth the read.
  • (4/5)
    The work begins with written correspondence between Thomas More and several people he had met on the continent: Peter Giles, town clerk of Antwerp, and Jerome Busleiden, counselor to Charles V. More chose these letters, which are communications between actual people, to further the plausibility of his fictional land. In the same spirit, these letters also include a specimen of the Utopian alphabet and its poetry. It is a great book that allows one to think about human nature. Utopia itself is an imaginary place that is nonexistent. Many have wondered over the years why More even wrote it. I forces one to consider that if the government of a place allows circumstances to occur that remove mans ability to take care of basic needs on a just and right way, should they be punished when they achieve it by breaking their laws?
  • (5/5)
    This is the kind of book that wouldn't be done justice with just one read-through. One should carefully read, reread, analyze, take a break from, and read again. Every time I read it, I pick up on something new or come to a different conclusion about what More might have meant. It's truly fascinating, especially for the fact that the reaction upon reading may in fact reveal more about the reader than it does about More or the work itself. I've never met anyone who takes exactly the same thing away from it as someone else, and have been constantly amazed at the various insights people have that never occurred to me. To hear one's impressions of the book is to have a small window into their mind. For the sheer amount of thought and introspection Utopia provokes, I feel it is a must-read. Much is said about the actual description of Utopia, but I would encourage readers to pay just as much attention to the first portion of the book, where Raphael is introduced and speaks with his companions (the character versions of More and Giles). One might also want to keep in mind that Utopia (as opposed to Eutopia- "good place"), despite modern usage, means "no place" rather than some sort of ideal. Just as Raphael Hythlodaeus/Hythloday is a "speaker of nonsense", Utopia/"no place" is not so simple as to be the description of a perfect society. Or is it? That ambiguity is the beauty of More's work.
  • (4/5)
    Summary: Sir Thomas Moore sets forth his ideas for the ideal society. This books was instrumental in discussion of our own government. Quote: "Thus you see that there are no idle persons among them, nor pretences of excusing any from labor. There are no taverns, no ale houses, nor stews among them, nor any other occasions of corrupting each other, of getting into any corners, or forming themselves into parties; all men live in full view, so that all are obliged both to perform their ordinary task and to employ themselves well in their spare hours; and it is certain that a people thus ordered must live in great abundance of all things, and these being equally distributed among them, no man can want or be obliged to beg."
  • (3/5)
    Yet another of the books for which I could provide a synopsis but have never read cover to cover (until now). There is much to Sir Thomas More's communist (note my use of a lowercase "c") essay that surprised me. One can see the little twists to insure against More being burned at the stake (the Utopians were ready to receive Christ as they had more or less self-discovered Christ's communal teachings - but it didn't prevent him having his head cut off for refusing to succumb to its antithesis) along with it being presented in the form of a dialogue in Book I (as per Plato, Machiavelli, et al.). A few things made me think it might be more socialist than communist, if one accepts that communism attempts to abolish the state in order to achieve equality, whereas socialism aspires to the same aim but through governmental or formal institutional arrangements. The founder of Utopia, "King" Utopus, suggested the limitations of More's imagination, and had me thinking of modern Bhutan. But the notes on the translation point out that Ralph Robinson, the translator, had added his own interpretations of the original Latin that added kings and princes where none was intended. The introduction by Richard Manus explains the reasons for keeping the original translation and for that I was pleased. The focus on religion and the idea of bondsman doing all the unpalatable work for the commonwealth brings to the fore many of the problems of communism in it twentieth century practice. Aside from the obvious problems where the dictatorship of the proletariat has never ended in its practical forms, communism has never really obtained that level of freedom, particularly in terms of occupations or individuals becoming "Renaissance" men or women, whereas, and despite its reliance on the "Metroplesque" underground to make it practicable, this is achieved, along with a six-hour work day, in Utopia. The interesting use of mercenaries in warfare and foreign relations and the stigmas attached to precious metals and pearls (for bondsmen and children respectively) point to the absurdity of surviving ideas about value and money. The use of Plato suggests a reinvention of the Commonwealth of centuries before, whereas Jonathan Swift, too, draws on the folk tradition to protect himself from his own political commentary, albeit over a century later, but relying on similarly strange peoples with startlingly homogeneous cultures. But, taken in its times, More seems to have done a good deal of the theorising for Marx to arrive and merely iron out the shortcomings. Despite my familiarity with the work, there is much fruit to be harvested by taking the time to read thoroughly what one has previously learnt second-hand. Yet I am pleased that our education system is remarkable in that, despite its secondary-source nature, the synopses I (at least) have received are true to form, if otherwise lacking in detail.
  • (3/5)
    Reading this is a good exercise in humility, to realize how many subjects we discuss today have been discussed (in the same details) before. I find it interesting that people don't know just how serious More was about most of this. Is he sincere and exposing how he really feels even though he can't be more explicit or act on much of it? Or it is satirical? The subjects are presented with such respect that it isn't obvious either way.
  • (4/5)
    Utopia offers an interesting critical look at live in the 16th century on the one hand as well as proposing an idea for an ideal civilization. Whether Utopia was meant to be a satire or represented More's personal views remains unclear, however, the discourse on Utopia contains several jokes and offers light reading.
  • (5/5)
    Written about 1515 or 1516 and worth reading see pages 93 at bottom e.g. rich managing selfishly and 95 last para eg However, there are many things in the commonwealth of utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments.He of course was beheaded and later made a Saint.
  • (4/5)
    The work begins with written correspondence between Thomas More and several people he had met on the continent: Peter Giles, town clerk of Antwerp, and Jerome Busleiden, counselor to Charles V. More chose these letters, which are communications between actual people, to further the plausibility of his fictional land. In the same spirit, these letters also include a specimen of the Utopian alphabet and its poetry. It is a great book that allows one to think about human nature. Utopia itself is an imaginary place that is nonexistent. Many have wondered over the years why More even wrote it. I forces one to consider that if the government of a place allows circumstances to occur that remove mans ability to take care of basic needs on a just and right way, should they be punished when they achieve it by breaking their laws?
  • (1/5)
    i couldn't get past the stilted language to get into this book. by the time i got into the groove i really just didn't think he had much to say. i had hoped for a lot more from this, and was sorely disappointed.
  • (3/5)
    I actually found this book to be quite boring. Sure, it's a classic. Sure, it outlines a theoretically equal world. But honestly, I found it difficult to keep engaged in what I was reading. How boring would life be if it were like what this book describes!
  • (4/5)
    An easy, reasonable quick read. More has some interesting communist ideas, infused with his version of Christianity and agrarianism. Many of his critiques about then-contemporary English/European society are still quite applicable.
  • (3/5)
    Thomas More's Utopia is nearly five centuries old yet it's still quite relevant and poignant today. It's somewhere between a fictional travelogue and a philosophical political treatise. I found it especially interesting that many of the complaints presented still ring true 500 years later. The sixteenth century writing can be a little dry at times but the narrative style and presentation are readily accessible and sometimes rather humorous.As I dove into this book I knew very little about it other than it was supposed to be More's outline of the "perfect city/state." Interestingly (as pointed out in some of the notes and introduction I read), the word "Utopia" is derived from Greek words and means both "good place land" and "no place land" simultaneously. So strangely it suggests that this is both a "good place" and that it doesn't (or can't) exist. That paradox was an interesting starting point for me as I read.The book is divided into two parts. The first "book" starts with letters between More and other real-life characters. This epistolary method of writing was quite common especially when trying to frame the reality of the situation. The letters work to introduce the characters and discussion that follows and to emphasize the significance of the information we are about to read. It also serves to introduce us to a character named Raphael who has apparently journeyed to the land of Utopia and has a great deal of expertise and respect for their customs and practices.The rest of "book 1" consists of a dialog between the recipients of these letters. The dialog includes criticisms of various political policies (primarily European) ranging from wars and international relations down to property rights, poverty and punishment of criminals. It is suggested that perhaps Raphael should go into politics as an advisor. The reply seems to be rather cynical in suggesting that the kings or rulers wouldn't listen to Raphael and that the current flaws of the system will simply be allowed to perpetuate rather than be healed. The best result Raphael could see would be that the leaders may be depressed at the knowledge of the flaws but wouldn't be willing to fix them. A worse result would be that Raphael would be run out of court as a wicked corruptor of society.The second "book" in Utopia goes beyond the philosophical discussions and into the specific details about the land of Utopia. First we get some general geographic details followed by information about the physical makeup of cities, communities and families. We're taught about the leaders of the society both how they're elected and what they do. We get significant detail about the nature of work within Utopia and the nature of property. We learn about international relations between Utopia and the outside world. We learn about their trade policies, immigration and emigration policies and how they handle wars. We're told in detail about criminal punishment, slavery, household relations (marriage, divorce, etc) and their concept of religion. Each aspect is presented in great detail and with various examples of implementation as well as sometimes comparing their methods to the flawed methods of European countries.Probably the biggest overall aspect of Utopia is the idea of a wholly communal society. There is no private property. There is no real hierarchy or aggrandizement of any individual, occupation or organization. Those who "lead" certain affairs of the country do so out of necessity for the greater overall good and not with the hopes of "looking good" or getting rich or leaving some sort of legacy. Criminals generally become slaves though their method of slavery is quite humane. The idea is that people are motivated to be good in order to keep the peace and to avoid the shame and restrictions that come in "slavery." The status quo is further maintained by making it a crime to not properly carry your own load. Laziness and idleness are not permitted. If you do not do your particular job, you are a criminal and become a slave.The Utopian concepts here are often (and rightly) seen as precursors to Marxist systems of government. The distinction is that More's Utopia is outlined as a pure and complete communistic society. Everything is in common from the property to the work to the rewards. Furthermore, while the society strives to improve through education, technology and other means the improvements are seen as existing to better the society as a whole and are taken in such a way as to provide mutual benefit to all involved. They would not consider any illicit means for obtaining advantage or influence. There is no place for pride or greed.The entire concept sounds very appealing and interesting on paper. There are also many very sound concepts that could see great success in practice. However, in trying to envision the society truly being put into practice, the problems come with the "humanity" of humans. Specifically the pride, greed, laziness and other vices of humanity. Over time, individuals would become bored or otherwise dissatisfied and try to change things. The book suggests that others in society would squash such desires and disallow any groups of such people to disrupt the system. Unfortunately the desire for power, influence or wealth will inevitably allow someone to find a way of scrambling to the top, even in a society with no formal "top."The idea of doing away with a monetary system and everybody working for the good of society is an ideal that would have potential if it could be sustained. But all it takes is a few small disruptions in the process and soon the whole system collapses in on itself.From a literary standpoint, Utopia is fun in that it seems to be the predecessor to a genre that's gaining popularity now. That being the utopian novel (and its friend, the dystopian novel, which is all the rage right now). I love reading about societies trying to become "perfect" in every way. It's such a great ideal. I find the dystopian concept very intriguing as well since it generally showcases the way these utopian societies will often overstep their bounds and collapse on themselves or become the enemy.Overall this was a very interesting read. I can definitely see it as being an influential book on political theory. Taking the concepts "off the page" becomes a rather interesting philosophical investigation into the nature of humanity and the things that help us rise or fall through generations. ***3 out of 5 stars
  • (4/5)
    In a very interesting way More paints his ideal state - state of Utopia. Here, all the virtues of men are cherished while all foolishness and - well, let us call them - all the bad things in society are non-existent, due to the very nature of Utopians, their state and the very way of their educational system.Interesting book, a rather subtle critique of the European states of the time (especially when it comes to vanity of the rich and uneven distribution of wealth among the populace - again some virtues glorified in the book may prove obsolete today [because of that ever-lasting temporal element that stands between writer and the reader or maybe some political reasons] but were focus of many a debate at the time). Man cannot but agree with many aspects of Utopia to be the very ideal - dedication to knowledge and constant strive to be better human being - but the required level of social maturity is so high that even today (maybe especially today) it may be considered to be way too high.Again, society itself is not peace loving as it may seem at the beginning - when faced with conflict (forced upon them or caused by them - for territory e.g) Utopians won't hesitate to fight, but first they will extensively use their allies (motivated by political means - sounds familiar does not it) to end the conflict rarely entering the fray themselves. This makes them very modern and in my opinion less ideal society. Again, those societies that reach the level of Utopians can be forgiven to feel supreme to every other nation/society and to behave in the manner they do - but nevertheless this stains their reputation.Very questions that arise in this book - like is it better to have free roaming citizenry without any restraints thus causing havoc on most on behalf of few, or to have ordered and disciplined society that will have limited liberties but live freely and under the benevolent government - are very common themes in SF literature (there exists no better example than Heinlein's "Starship Troopers").Writing style may be difficult but don't give up - book gives a rather good view of human nature and a lot can be learned from it.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting to read. I liked seeing the perspective of some issues in More's time.
  • (4/5)
    A highly influential classic with interesting letters but including pedantic essays heavily influenced by socialism.
  • (4/5)
    This is another one of those classic books that everyone should read. It was written in 16th century England so the language can make reading this a bit difficult/tedious. But it is worth it.This is a small book but it is broken down into two sections. The first book is letters between Sir Thomas More and several people he met. The reader is introduced to Raphael, whose the main character. The second book is about Utopia. The reader learns what life is like there, how things are run. For instance, people are re-distributed around the households in the Utopia to keep numbers even. People wear the same type of clothing, no one is unemployed. Everything is kept as equal as possible. What I found interesting abotu Utopia was that it was a welfare state, not unlike the U.S., but it was taken to the extreme. I liked this book and I would recommend it to everyone. Again, it's a classic and everyone should read this at least once in their life time.
  • (3/5)
    I'm sure Utopia has lost much of its meaning through the translation from its native Latin (By no means is this comment directed at the translation - I think much of the difficulty lies in the inherent limitations of English).For the rating I have given, I considered three things: the general enjoyment from reading the book, the ideas contained within and the historic importance (and context) of the work. Immediately after I finished reading the book, I determined that I didn’t enjoy it. After giving it much thought, I’m still not sure why that is – possibly the difficulty I have with the concept that all men are created equal, yet women are subservient to men (although, given the historical context, Moore can hardly be chastised for that), the inherent flaws I see in the ability of any society to function as described, or even some of the other more subtle difficulties I see with the novel (such as attempting to applying logical debate to religion).The difficulty I’m also faced with is the degree to which Moore is suggesting that Utopia would be the perfect society (particularly since he states within the text that he does not agree with all of the Utopian ideals) and the degree to which it is a work of satire (a highly debated topic among academics - see for example the introduction in the Penguin Classics edition).
  • (2/5)
    If this audiobook hadn't been a free offer, I would never have tried to listen to this classic instead of reading it. I have found that I have a very hard time absorbing difficult or factual or philosophical material via audiobook. Knowing that, I did an 'immersion' read with this book, reading the text as I listened. So my low rating isn't a reflection upon Simon Prebbles narration per se (though his somewhat gravelly voice did tend to make me sleepy!).Thomas More's vision of a idyllic society was somewhat disappointing for me. The society he describes had some fascinating aspects but as a modern woman, there were a few too many chauvinistic attitudes. I also had some issues with some of the religious aspects such as this passage:"he [Utopus] therefore left men wholly to their liberty, that they might be free to believe as they should see cause; only he made a solemn and severe law against such as should so far degenerate from the dignity of human nature, as to think that our souls died with our bodies, or that the world was governed by chance, without a wise overruling Providence: for they all formerly believed that there was a state of rewards and punishments to the good and bad after this life; and they now look on those that think otherwise as scarce fit to be counted men, since they degrade so noble a being as the soul, and reckon it no better than a beast’s: thus they are far from looking on such men as fit for human society, or to be citizens of a well-ordered commonwealth; since a man of such principles must needs, as oft as he dares do it, despise all their laws and customs: for there is no doubt to be made, that a man who is afraid of nothing but the law, and apprehends nothing after death, will not scruple to break through all the laws of his country, either by fraud or force, when by this means he may satisfy his appetites."
  • (4/5)
    Thomas More brought his considerable skills from numerous fields to bear when he created Utopia. His intimate knowledge of the workings of the English legal system, government and politics enabled him to posit an ideal society, wherein, More corrected the ills which plagued sixteenth century England and Europe.People in Utopia held few possessions privately. The government organ-ized the economy, the methods of producing food and most other goods and ser-vices. Work and hardships were shared as equitably as possible. Similarly, all people partook of the bounty of the food, shelter and goods, with few exceptions.More anticipated the objections that this idealized society would raise; and he answered them at length. He explained how Utopians dealt with criminals, showing a means of isolating society from harmful individuals, while yet deriving benefit from their existence and providing deterrent examples to those teetering on the verge of crime. In an age where torture and mutilation were common and executions were routine, More offered a voice of reason and humanity. Signifi-cantly, his methods of dealing with crime did not mete out the same punishment for all offenses, both severe and trivial.More’s world was based on his well-considered principles, humanistic be-liefs and plain common sense. He was not one-dimensional like Niccolo Machia-velli; More was not driven by desire for power, fame or wealth. He wanted to show a means of organizing a well-ordered society in which the people, not the prince, would live happy and productive lives. On the other hand, More did not set his culture in a world where all was roses and problems did not exist. Whereas Erasmus was strong on encouraging upright and moral behavior, he seemed light on the realization that, in the real world, people often fail to live up to his high ideals. More’s society took man’s frailties into account. More pro-vided means for dealing with crime and war, as well as, with personal envy and greed. More understood that his argument would be the stronger if he could head off objections by answering them in advance.In addition, More’s work showed his love of humor. His organization of the material, arranged as if he had genuinely talked to someone who had been to Utopia, and the overall pains More took to imbue the work with as much authen-ticity as possible, must have been a source of great pleasure to him.Besides giving him a private chuckle at putting over his joke, More had a more serious level in mind in Utopia. Placing his society in an imaginary or dis-tant land, allowed him the freedom to address a variety of political and social is-sues with impunity. Had More directly criticized Henry VIII’s spending, his readi-ness to dispense executions, his policy of war, or the ostentatious court, More would have faced serious charges. By using the oblique approach, besides al-lowing More to indulge his love of irony and satire, he was able to elude charges of treason or sedition. More showed great courage in publishing this work, as in his life in gen-eral. He saw wrongs and dared to speak out about them. But with his fine mind and keen sense of balance, he also knew that to throw himself into championing a cause at the expense of his life would do neither him nor the cause any good. Although he ultimately was martyred for his beliefs, evidence suggests that More did not actively seek our martyrdom. He enjoyed life far too much to risk death needlessly. However, his personal belief in God and religion, as well as his per-sonal integrity, demanded that he not shrink away if death were his only accept-able recourse.Alex Hunnicutt
  • (5/5)
    “Thus I am wholly convinced that unless private property is entirely done away with, there can be no fair or just distribution of goods”“When I run over in my mind the various commonwealths flourishing today, so help me God, I can see nothing in them, but a conspiracy of the rich, who are fattening up their own interests under the name and title of the commonwealth”“If money disappeared, so would fear, anxiety, worry, toil, and sleepless nights. Even poverty, which seems to need money more than anything else for its relief, would vanish if money were entirely done away with.Sir Thomas More’s Utopia is littered with seemingly revolutionary thoughts and ideas like those above; has been claimed as an early example of medievalism, modernism, socialism, communism; it has also been claimed by protestants, catholics, idealists and even Nazis, but why on earth would a reactionary churchman like Thomas More write and publish such a tract? It has to be a joke doesn't it?. If it is then the joke is on More because his invented Utopia has passed into common usage today as an ideal world.More’s story is simplicity itself. He is introduced by his friend Peter Giles to Raphael Hythloday, who is visiting London after a voyages across uncharted seas searching for new lands. He has chanced upon the island of Utopia where he believes he has found the perfect society and is eager to return. Before Raphael can tell his story of the wonders of Utopia, he describes a dinner he had attended with Cardinal Morton and a distinguished lawyer. More uses a first person narrative for Raphael to describe the evils of the way England is currently ruled paying particular attention to the plight of the poor and the infirm. Rafael’s knowledge of foreign countries and the society’s he has witnessed on his travels leads him to propose alternative ways of dealing with the ills of England. The Utopians are introduced into the conversation and More and Peter Giles are eager to learn more details of how their society is organised and so they arrange to have dinner with Raphael and his descriptions of Utopia take up the whole of Book Two.Utopia’s geography (although not where it can be found), its cities, its social organisation, its work habits, its relations with other countries, moral philosophy, art of warfare and their religion are all lovingly described by Raphael. There are no interruptions from More or his friend as a picture of Utopia emerges. Of course there are contradictions in the story and it soon emerges that a Utopian society is based on discipline at the expense of liberty. The pursuit of pleasure for all and the good of the commonwealth cannot be achieved without restrictions on freedom that would be unacceptable to people in Thomas Mores’s circle. A point he makes on the final page of his book when he allows himself to think about what he has heard:“……but my chief concern was to the basis of the whole system, that is, their communal living, and their moneyless economy. This one thing alone takes away all the nobility, magnificence, splendour, and majesty which (in the popular view) are considered the true ornaments of any nation”Utopia was published in 1516 just about the same time as copies of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” were appearing and on the face of it the books are worlds apart. Machiavelli’s advice to his Prince is based on pragmatism and commercialism with the basic premise that a ruler always needs to be tougher and/or fairer than his opponents to maintain his position and/or increase his power.. More’s Utopia is based on a shared communalism where everybody benefits from just laws with the pursuit of pleasure for all being the chief aim. However running underneath both books is an undercurrent of pessimism; a pessimism that bites deep into the human psyche. I think that Machiavelli and More took a similar view of mankind, they saw around them people whose natural instincts were totally selfish, anarchic and sinful, whose wilful pursuit of riches and power had to be kept in check.Thomas More as far as we can judge was an ambiguous character; "a man for all seasons", in his early life particularly he was much respected in humanist circles, a friend of Erasmus and known for his wit and sagacity, however when he became active in public life; C R Elton says that “he remained determined to apply coercion and judgement to dangerous sinners, rather than compassion and comprehension.” (he was instrumental in enforcing the ultimate penalty of burning for heretics). There is evidence that he regretted the publication of Utopia and certainly when his circle of friends commented on it they thought it was a delightful little joke. The way More told his story especially by including real people in book one, convinced some people at the time of the validity of Utopia, and while today we are sure that the island of Utopia does not exist, there are still plenty of people who can read into More’s book serious political philosophy.I think it is a satire and no doubt an indictment of early 16th century society, but Raphael Hythloday’s Utopia is an excuse for the witty More to poke as much fun as possible at the society in which he lived. It is a book that is still open to many different interpretations and will produce plenty of ammunition for debate on the ills of current society and how we would like to see a perfect community organised. It is a fun read and at only 85 pages can easily be read in one sitting.I read the Norton Critical Edition, which has some excellent critical essays following a clear and absorbing translation of the text by Robert M Adams. Some contextual information is also included along with extracts from letters that were written by More and his friends, which add immensely to the enjoyment of More’s little book. There are also extracts from other authors attempts at defining a Utopia, which may be of interest. This is a classic that I thoroughly enjoyed and so I rate it at 5 stars.
  • (2/5)
    First published in 1516 (in Latin), the book we usually call “Utopia” originally had a much longer title, which can be roughly translated as “Concerning the Best State of a Republic and the New Island of Utopia.” It was not translated and published in English until 1551. At first, I was surprised that the language of the copy I read seemed quite modern for a book written in the 16th century, but I now realize that it was a recent translation of the original Latin rather than the first English translation.Thomas More, the author, was councillor to Henry VIII, and Lord High Chancellor of England. Working for Henry was even more perilous than working for Donald Trump (at least, so far) — More was beheaded in 1532 for refusing to take the king’s Oath of Supremacy. The book takes the form of a discussion among fairly learned men, one of whom purports to have visited the mythical island of Utopia. More intended the word utopia to mean “no place.” In modern English, it has come to mean impractically ideal. The book itself is part satire, part wish fulfillment, and the society described is indeed impractically ideal.In some ways More was a precursor to Karl Marx. The Utopians had no need for money because everyone worked hard enough to produce ample goods and shared them with everyone else. No one took more than he needed. Such an arrangement is unlikely to prosper among real human beings. Although More was describing what he may have thought to be an ideal society, he expressed a few ideas that seem repugnant to the modern reader. For example, the Utopians kept slaves, although slavery was a form of punishment for breaking the law. In addition, the Utopians were wont to extend the boundaries of their society by sending their men:“…over to the neighboring continent, where, if they find that the inhabitants have more soil than they can well cultivate, they fix a colony, taking the inhabitants into their society if they are willing….But if the natives refuse to conform themselves to their laws they drive them out of those bounds which they mark out for themselves, and use force if they resist, for they account it a very just cause of war for a nation to hinder others from possessing a part of that soil of which they make no use….”This sounds a lot like white Americans justifying Manifest Destiny. The Utopians had the same disputes of moral philosophy as the 16th century English. However, More says they “never dispute concerning happiness without fetching some arguments from the principles of religion as well as natural reason.” They spend their lives in pursuit of pleasure, but the pleasures they pursue are of a virtuous kind, forsaking “foolish…pleasure [like] hunting, fowling, or gaming, of whose madness they have only heard, for they have no such things among them.” More’s own attitude toward Utopia and the Utopians is a bit ambiguous, in that he concludes the book with the sentiment that: “I cannot perfectly agree to everything [described above]. However, there are many things in the commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments.” Utopia is significant historically, but I don’t think it has much practical to say about forming a just society. It is more a description of what a just society would look like if its citizens were not as self serving, untrusting, and greedy as real humans. (JAB)
  • (3/5)
    Gaat minder over Utopia, dan over de huidige maatschappij en wat daarin verkeerd loopt. De kritiek is veel scherper, en vooral veel handiger geformuleerd dan bij Erasmus.