British and Irish Literature Utopian and Dystopian Literature to 1800
by
Steve Mentz, Erin M. Gallagher
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 June 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 20 September 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0082

Introduction

Few subgenres of European literature can be said to emerge from a single human imagination, but Thomas More’s Utopia (see Thomas More and the Invention of Utopia) claims pride of place as the instigating text of utopian literature. More’s book, first published in Latin in 1516 on the Continent and in an English translation in 1552, was not entirely sui generis; it engages with a variety of sources, many quite ancient, as well as a wide range of reference across European literatures. But the word utopia, which has come to define the genre, was More’s invention. The word plays off two different Latin phrases: it is built from ut-topos, “no place,” but it also sounds exactly like eu-topos, meaning “good place.” From its early modern origins, then, the genre exploits the tension between the imagined and the good: Can Utopia be a real place, or must the utopian vision insist on seeing the “good” as always “not real”? Even though More’s text draws on a large number of previous works (see Precedents for Utopia), his particular combination of these essential strains would structure early modern literary utopias. Many of More’s intellectual heirs before 1750 would extend his efforts to imagine a good place and, sometimes more directly than others, to imagine how that place might influence the existing political world. Especially during the tumultuous 17th century in England, with its Civil War, execution of King Charles I, Interregnum, and, eventually, restoration of Charles II, the utopian genre would become increasingly intertwined with political realities. The disillusionment with political progress that defines the modern dystopian works of writers like H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell (see Claeys 2010 under Panhistorical Overviews of Utopian Literature) appears fairly late in this history, with Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) arguably a foundational text. For early modern writers, utopia may not have been a real place, but it was imaginable, and that imagining, whether in the form of an island kingdom or a fictitious plan for British government, was thought to have productive real-world consequences.

Thomas More and the Invention of Utopia

More’s ur-text defines the field of early modern utopian literature. Perhaps the most important structural feature of the book is its split between a critical portrait of 16th-century England in Book 1 and a description of an imaginary island in Book 2. While Book 2 has garnered more popular attention, the focus in Book 1 on the failures of English government has also proved a rich mine for criticism. Logan and Adams 2002 emphasizes the text’s place in a tradition of political thought. Traditional scholarship such as Surtz 1949 and Adams 1941 contextualizes the work through More’s humanist circle and its attempt to reconcile Christian belief and classical literary culture. More recent work such as Hough 1991 and Freeman 1992 emphasize divisions and complexities within More’s writing. In Wegemer 1990, the fictional figure of Raphael Hythloday serves as a counterweight to the more practical and skeptical character of More himself. The text’s vast influence and geographic vision are addressed in Fenton 1975 and Morgan-Russell 2003.

  • Adams, Robert P. “The Philosophic Unity of More’s Utopia.” Studies in Philology 38 (1941): 45–65.

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    This essay summarizes early attempts to connect More’s text with ancient sources, especially Plato’s Republic and Augustine’s City of God, as well as Amerigo Vespucci’s more recent reports from the New World. Adams argues that Utopia amounts to a philosophic defense of “reason” in its natural state. Available online by subscription.

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    • Fenton, D. B. “England and Europe: Utopia and Its Aftermath.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 25 (1975): 115–135.

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      This article explores the pan-European influence and appeal of More’s text. Fenton engages the split between a “medievalist” and a “modern” view of the text, noting that the latter often treats it as a protosocialist or Marxist reform text, while the former emphasizes More’s roots in medieval political ideas. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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      • Freeman, John. “Discourse in More’s Utopia: Alibi/Pretext/Postscript.” ELH 59.2 (1992): 289–311.

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        This essay reads Utopia as an “oscillating” text, the intentions of which seem unknowable largely because of the opposition between Books 1 and 2. Freeman argues that the two books have a complex and entangled relationship, in which Book 2 is an “alibi” and Book 1 a “pretext,” but both books entangle each other and cannot be separated. Available online by subscription.

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        • Hough, L. E. “Disaffected from Utopia.” Utopian Studies 3 (1991): 118–127.

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          Responding to readings of More’s text and the subsequent history of utopian political thought, this essay focuses on the leverage provided by being “disaffected” with some aspect of the present “real” world. It distinguishes utopian from dystopian works based on the explicitness or intensity of this disaffection.

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          • Logan, George M., and Robert M. Adams, eds. More Utopia. Rev. ed. Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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            Logan and Adams’s edition, first published in 1989 and revised in 2002, is one of several fine modern editions of Utopia. Their introduction is thorough and erudite, especially on the place of More in the history of political thought, and they print all the ancillary material, including several letters, poems, and a reproduction of Ambrosius Holbein’s “Map of Utopia.”

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            • Morgan-Russell, Simon. “St. Thomas More’s Utopia and the Description of Britain.” Cahiers Élisabéthains 61 (2003): 1–11.

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              Morgan-Russell explores the relationship between the fictional Utopia and the historical early modern Britain. He connects More’s narrative to a tradition of “topographical description” that includes contemporary descriptions of Britain as well as New World narratives such as Vespucci’s Voyages (Vespucci 1992, cited under Precedents for Utopia).

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              • Surtz, Edward L. “The Defense of Pleasure in More’s Utopia.” Studies in Philology 46 (1949): 99–112.

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                This traditional approach connects More’s rhetoric to his friend Erasmus’s 1511 essay The Praise of Folly (in Latin, Encomium Moriae, i.e., “praise of More”) and its understanding of humanist declamatio. By defending philosophic pleasure, the pleasure that comes from living a just and good life, More’s text connects the almost pagan viewpoint of the Utopians with the Christian humanism of his own circle. Available online by subscription.

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                • Wegemer, Gerard. “The Rhetoric of Opposition in Thomas More’s Utopia: Giving Form to Competing Philosophies.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 23.4 (1990): 288–306.

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                  This article claims that Hythloday and “More” in the text represent competing philosophical positions, with Hythloday representing a scholastic philosopher and More a more worldly or “civil” figure. The tension between intellectual purity and civic engagement that these two figures represent poses a core dilemma for Utopia and its humanist readers. Available online by subscription.

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                  More’s Legacy

                  It is difficult to survey the vast range of critical responses to More’s text, which spans 20th-century critical studies. Even if we confine our attention to relatively recent decades, the corpus is immense. These selected essays provide a varied picture of More’s legacy, one that emerges from considering Utopia as an influential text in multiple discourses and disciplines, including politics, philosophy, social reform, satire, and even the literatures of exploration and science. This collection of essays gives a sense of the wide range of intellectual influences that trace their lineage back to Utopia. Wooden 1979, Wooden 1977, and Wooden 1978 establish the traditional pattern of reading More within humanist contexts. Kessler 2002 argues that More merits an important place in the history of the church-state relation. Sargent 1973 places More in a feminist context, and Goodey 1970 explores his geographic vision. Nendza 1984 reads More as an anti-idealist in the political sphere, and Romm 1991 understands his strategy of naming in the fiction to be ironic and playful.

                  • Goodey, Brian. “Mapping ‘Utopia’: A Comment on the Geography of Sir Thomas More.” Geographical Review 60 (1970): 15–30.

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                    This essay, written by a geographer, began as an attempt to create an accurate map of Utopia; it concludes by explaining why no such map can exist, despite extant early modern illustrations. This exploration of contradictions in More’s depiction of physical geography emphasizes the flexible nature of the text’s vision. Available online by subscription.

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                    • Kessler, Sanford. “Religious Freedom in More’s Utopia.” Review of Politics 64.2 (Spring 2002): 207–229.

                      DOI: 10.1017/S0034670500038079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      In this article, Kessler explores the image of religious freedom created by More’s Utopia as “a deep and original contribution to Western political thought,” anticipating John Locke’s 1689 “Letter Concerning Toleration” by nearly two centuries and one religious civil war. Kessler argues that More’s fiction provides an important precursor to later efforts to manage church-state relations. Available online by subscription.

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                      • Nendza, James. “Political Idealism in More’s Utopia.” Review of Politics 46.3 (July 1984): 428–451.

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                        In an approach informed by skepticism about 20th-century political utopianism, this essay suggests that “More’s purpose is not to recommend . . . radical change but to show the dangers of such idealistic proposals.” Available online by subscription.

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                        • Romm, James. “More’s Strategy of Naming in the Utopia.” Sixteenth-Century Journal 22 (1991): 173–183.

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                          This essay argues that the puzzling qualities of More’s Latin- and Greek-derived names in Utopia represent a conscious authorial choice, intended to frustrate the assumption that language has consistent or unambiguous meanings. Romm links More’s practice to the classical satirist Lucian of Samosata. Available online by subscription.

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                          • Sargent, Lyman Tower. “Women in Utopia.” Comparative Literature Studies 10.4 (December 1973): 302–316.

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                            This article places More’s text within a larger tradition of utopian ideals that either abolish the family and make women fairly equal, as in Plato’s Republic, or maintain the family structure and make women subservient, as in More, Francis Bacon, and “most utopias since 1850.” Sargent also considers explicitly feminist utopian writings after 1850. Available online by subscription.

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                            • Wooden, Warren. “Anti-Scholastic Satire in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia.” Sixteenth-Century Journal 8.2 (July 1977): 29–45.

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                              Wooden argues that Hythloday gets consistently satirized in the text because he represents a scholastic strain of humanist philosophy against which More struggles. He also notes that two of More’s allies and mentors, John Colet and Erasmus, were subject to attacks by scholastic intellectuals. Available online by subscription.

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                              • Wooden, Warren. “A Reconsideration of the Parerga of Thomas More’s Utopia.” Albion 10 (1978): 151–160.

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                                Using the neologism “panerga” to describe what we now call “paratexts,” or more simply front matter, this article explores the letters and poems published in the early editions of Utopia. It emphasizes that these texts creates a “humanist game, a trap for the unwary.” Available online by subscription.

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                                • Wooden, Warren. “Utopia and Arcadia: An Approach to More’s Utopia.” College Literature 6.1 (Winter 1979): 30–40.

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                                  Wooden connects More’s vision in Book 2 to the myth of the Golden Age in writers such as Jacopo Sannazaro, Jorge de Montemayor, and William Shakespeare in his pastoral comedies. This view sees Utopia as a “simplified” portrait of the social world in which classical virtues are exaggerated. Available online by subscription.

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                                  General Overviews of Early Modern Utopian Literature

                                  After More, the word utopia became a recognizable feature of English literary culture, and modern critics have identified a long utopian tradition beginning in this period. This section of the bibliography surveys this field from different angles. Some critics focus often on local historical contexts, especially in relation to the massive political upheavals of the Civil War, Interregnum, and Restoration. Others read the future-oriented genre in relation to modern critical trends, especially feminism or Marx-influenced political theory. Appelbaum 2002 places utopian fictions in detailed political context in 17th-century England. Boesky 1996 explores a slightly larger time frame and sees growing nationalism in the genre. Chordas 2010 reconsiders the genre of utopia as a hybrid of fictional and real-world interests. Pohl 2006 reads utopias by women in terms of evolving notions of space and place. Kendrik 2004 places More’s legacy in the context of 19th-century political thought, especially that of Karl Marx. Knapp 1992 explores the influence of the utopian genre on English writings about the settlement of North America, and Hadfield 1998 provides a broader survey of travel writing in early modern England. Houston 2010 extends Hadfield’s project in a collection of new essays.

                                  • Appelbaum, Robert. Literature and Utopian Politics in Seventeenth-Century England. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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                                    In addition to detailed discussions of major utopian fictions including Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1624), Francis Godwin’s Man in the Moone (1638), James Harrington’s Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), and Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World (1666), this book connects literary fictions with political and social change during England’s tumultuous 17th century.

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                                    • Boesky, Amy. Founding Fictions: Utopias in Early Modern England. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1996.

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                                      Taking as her primary texts More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Cavendish’s Blazing World, and Henry Neville’s Isle of Pines (1668), Boesky emphasizes the peculiar Englishness and growing nationalism of the utopian genre. She mediates between the reformist and idealist positions by claiming that utopian fiction is both progressive and self-critical and thus represents the contradictory nature of “improvement” in the social realm.

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                                      • Chordas, Nina. Forms in Early Modern Utopia: The Ethnography of Perfection. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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                                        This study considers familiar utopian texts including More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, and Cavendish’s Blazing World, but asks that they not be read as “fiction”; instead, it identifies them as part of an emerging hybrid genre that includes histories of New World exploration and homiletic sermons. Chordas emphasizes the overlap between rhetoric and “real-world experimentation” and identifies these texts as part of a “collective mode.”

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                                        • Hadfield, Andrew. Literature, Travel, and Colonial Writing in the English Renaissance, 1545–1625. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                          This is a thorough study of different genres of travel writing in this period. Early in his study, Hadfield treats More’s Utopia as revealing a travel-broadened vision of global connections, and he terms it “a foundational text of early modern English travel and colonial writing” (p. 11).

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                                          • Houston, Chlöe, ed. New Worlds Reflected: Travel and Utopia in the Early Modern Period. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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                                            Reflecting on the body of literature introduced by Hadfield, this collection of essays draws together specialists on utopian fiction and travel writing in the period. The collection contains an afterword by Hadfield, and articles on Richard Hakluyt and Sir Francis Drake in addition to several utopian texts.

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                                            • Kendrick, Christopher. Utopia, Carnival, and Commonwealth in Renaissance England. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

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                                              This study explores early modern utopia as a literary genre, and begins by situating More in the context of 19th-century utopianism from William Morris to Marx. Kendrick considers utopia as a rational negation of the ancient tradition of carnival, and sees these impulses in conflict from François Rabelais to Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare. His conclusion treats Thomas Nashe’s Lenten Stuffe (1599), an under-read utopian fiction, alongside Bacon’s New Atlantis.

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                                              • Knapp, Jeffrey. Empire Nowhere: England, America, and Literature from Utopia to The Tempest. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

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                                                This book reads English literature from the early 16th to early 17th centuries through the cultural consequences of England’s early expansion into the New World. Knapp’s “nowhere” plays on both the no-place of More’s title and the tentative nature of English colonial ventures in this period, when other European nations far outstripped the English in the New World.

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                                                • Pohl, Nicole. Women, Space, and Utopia, 1600–1800. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.

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                                                  Focusing on women’s special symbolic connection to space, including domestic spaces such as the country house, this study imagines utopia as a special overlap between lived and conceptual space. Reading women writers, including Cavendish, Lady Mary Wroth, Mary Astell, Lady Mary Montagu, and others, Pohl argues for a distinctive feminist poetics of utopia in the early modern period.

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                                                  Panhistorical Overviews of Utopian Literature

                                                  While most of the works in this bibliography concentrate on the period between More’s text and the mid-18th century, several studies of utopian fiction cast a wider chronological net. These overviews of the genre are useful for scholars in the early modern period but are not limited to that period. Claeys 2010 provides a collection of essays exploring the genre from More to the dystopic fictions of the 20th century. Haschak 1994 provides a thorough bibliography of secondary sources in multiple periods and languages. Jones and Goodwin 1990 explores the tradition of feminist utopian writing with special concentration on the 19th century but with some attention to More and his immediate context.

                                                  • Claeys, Gregory, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521886659Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    This collection of essays treats utopian literature starting with More and the dystopian responses to it, which it locates in 20th-century figures including Wells, Huxley, and Orwell. It ranges widely in literary contexts, with chapters on feminism, postcolonialism, romance, science fiction, and ecology.

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                                                    • Haschak, Paul G. Utopian/Dystopian Literature: A Bibliography of Literary Criticism. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1994.

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                                                      An exhaustive resource of critical sources, including Continental as well and English and American material.

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                                                      • Jones, Libby Falk, and Sarah Webster Goodwin, eds. Feminism, Utopia, and Narrative. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990.

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                                                        A collection of essays mostly about 19th- and 20th-century utopian fictions with some attention to the larger historical resonance of the genre and an essay on the Rule of St. Clare of Assisi. The two respondents suggest ways in which utopian fiction can inform visions of social change as well as literary history.

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                                                        Precedents for Utopia

                                                        While More’s text marks a clear point of origin for this genre, he did not write Utopia in a vacuum. In fact, it is valuable to see More’s work as part of the Renaissance synthesis of classical and Christian ideas and sources. More’s text combines the political idealism of Plato (Plato 2006) and other classical writers with the visionary fervor of St. Augustine (Augustine 2000) and the new vistas discovered by travel writers such as Vespucci (Vespucci 1992). Levin 1969 provides a particularly helpful summary of the wide range of texts connected with Renaissance visions of perfection or the Golden Age. The satiric work in Lucian 1989, however, can serve to counterbalance the idealism of these familiar models. More’s fiction combines idealism and irony, fantasy and reality.

                                                        • Augustine. City of God. Translated by Marcus Dods. New York: Modern Library, 2000.

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                                                          With an introduction by Thomas Merton. Augustine’s vision of a holy ideal city provides a sacred model in response to which More and other utopian writers imagined their perfect polities. Augustine’s extended debate against pagan religious views contrasts with the more syncretic hopes of early modern writers like Spenser and Shakespeare.

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                                                          • Levin, Harry. Myth of the Golden Age in the Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969.

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                                                            This is a wide-ranging survey of versions of the Golden Age myth in the Renaissance, with emphasis on English writers from More to Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, and John Milton. Levin attempts a synthesis of classical visions, especially that of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Christian literature including the Bible and Dante. He also ranges widely in modern literary utopianism, from Henry David Thoreau to Ezra Pound to Lord Byron.

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                                                            • Lucian. A True Story. Translated by B. P. Reardon. In Collected Ancient Greek Novels. Edited by B. P. Reardon, 619–649. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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                                                              Lucian’s Verae Historiae, to give its Latin title, presents itself as a parody of literary tall-tales from Homer’s Odyssey forward. Written in Greek sometime in the 2nd century in the Hellenized Middle East, this tale provides a classical antecedent for More’s skepticism and literary playfulness.

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                                                              • Plato. The Republic. Translated by Desmond Lee. New York: Penguin, 2006.

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                                                                With an introduction by Melissa Lane. Plato’s ideal city of shared ownership and philosophical debate was a central model for More and his utopian descendants, particularly those who propose detailed political systems. Plato’s dismissal of the poets from his Republic, too, would lead a number of Renaissance authors to attempt to defend literature, or at least to argue that Plato meant something other than full banishment.

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                                                                • Vespucci, Amerigo. Letters of the Four Voyages to the New World. Edited by Bernard Quaritch. Hamburg, Germany: Wayasbah, 1992.

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                                                                  This is a modern facsimile edition of a translation of Vespucci’s letters of 1505–1506. Reprints of an edition from 1893 in London are available, both in print and online. These voyages, on which More’s Hythloday supposedly ventured, provide a historical version of the visionary travel narrative.

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                                                                  Continental Humanist Contexts

                                                                  More’s humanist circle, like the guests assembled in Book 1 of Utopia, was thoroughly international. His vision of an ideal polity draws on many Continental traditions and was influential outside of the British Isles. These five texts represent a series of major Continental works in dialogue with Utopia. The comic fictions collected in Rabelais 1995 predate and influence More and his tradition. Cervantes 2003 builds on More’s utopian vision while emphasizing the irony of placing “no-place” in the real world. For Quint 2005 and Maravall 1991, Cervantes’s fiction serves precisely to smash together the real and the ideal. In addition to fictions such as Don Quixote, however, historical commentaries such as Vega 2006 explore comparable ideas about ideal political structures while describing New World societies. The impulse to find utopia by travel also drives Cyrano de Bergerac 1923, though in this case the hero travels to the Moon and Sun rather than the New World.

                                                                  • Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote. Edited by Edith Grossman. New York: Ecco, 2003.

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                                                                    With an introduction by Harold Bloom. Cervantes’s novel, originally published in Spanish in 1605 and 1611, contrasts the ideals of medieval romance with a realistic portrait of 17th-century Spain. Explicitly utopian rhetoric appears in Don Quixote’s hymn to the Golden World (1.23–27) and Sancho’s governorship in Book 2 (2.42–53), among other places.

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                                                                    • Cyrano de Bergerac. The Comical History of the Moon and the Sun. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1923.

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                                                                      Published in two volumes, this work of science fiction, a fantastical journey, satirizes the society of the author’s time. It first appeared in Paris in 1657, and an English version by A. Lovell was published in London in 1687.

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                                                                      • Maravall, José Antonio. Utopia and Counterutopia in the Quixote. Translated by Robert W. Felkel. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.

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                                                                        Originally published in Spanish in 1948, this influential study explores the novel’s dialogue between utopian visions and counter-utopian reality. Maravall distinguishes two strains of utopianism in Cervantes: the pastoral and the chivalric. He argues that Cervantes satirizes both.

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                                                                        • Quint, David. Cervantes’s Novel of Modern Times: A New Reading of Don Quijote. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 2005.

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                                                                          This study provides a clear introduction to modern Quixote criticism as well as advancing a cogent reading of the novel as an anti-utopian allegory of the transition from a feudal society to one governed by modern capitalism.

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                                                                          • Rabelais, François. The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Translated by J. M. Cohen. New York: Penguin, 1995.

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                                                                            Rabelais’s picaresque collection of five novels includes the stories of the giant Gargantua and his son Pantagruel. Its main utopian thrust comes through the comic philosophy of “Pantagruelism,” a certain gaiety of mind (gaité d’espirit) in the face of life’s inconstancies. The text was originally published in French in 1531–1542.

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                                                                            • Vega, Garcilaso de la. The Royal Commentaries and General History of Peru. Edited by Harold Livermore. Boston: Hackett, 2006.

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                                                                              First published in Spain in 1609, these commentaries and histories by de la Vega (“El Inca”) explore the recent history of colonialism in Peru. The work centers on the struggle between indigenous culture and tradition, and the Christianity of conquest.

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                                                                              The 16th Century

                                                                              The flourishing of literary culture in late-16th-century England generated many self-reflective presentations of an ideal or Golden Age. Elizabeth’s court was treated as an ideal for a long time by literary scholars. More recent work, however, has dimmed these stars, arguing that many Elizabethan writers explored the failure of their court to live up to its own ideals. The period combines More’s utopian vision and a critical impulse, already present in More but to become more explicit later, growing up in competition with utopianism. The verse epic of Spenser 2001 imagines Elizabeth’s court as “Golden” but also critiques its political and social failings. The Arcadian vision of Sidney 1977 also combines utopian vision with ironic critique, and in Sidney’s case an earlier version of the fiction, Sidney 1999, strikes a more politically cautious note than More had sounded in Utopia. While not exploring the vast critical bibliography of Spenser, this section highlights several essays on Sidney’s idealizing and critiquing vision, including Dipple 1970 on Sidney’s complex view of justice, Mentz 2004 on Sidney’s efforts to unite faith and reason, and Olmstead 2005 on friendship and humanist rhetoric. Scholars interested in the 16th century might also want to pursue less-well-known primary texts, including Nicholas 1579, a utopian dialogue that unusually features a female speaker, and Floyd 1600, a conservative description of the ideal political state of monarchy.

                                                                              • Dipple, Elizabeth. “‘Unjust Justice’ in the Old Arcadia.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 10.1 (Winter 1970): 83–101.

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                                                                                Dipple presents a case for examining the uncertainties and flawed realities of Sidney’s text, as experienced by fallible characters facing moral absoluteness. Her analysis suggests that the arrival of Euarchus in Book 5 does not usher in a political utopia. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                • Floyd, Thomas. The Picture of a Perfect Common-wealth. London: Simon Stafford, 1600.

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                                                                                  Described on its title page as “Gathered forth of many authors, as well humane as divine,” Floyd’s description of an ideal state may not be original but it does present a useful compendium of mid-17th-century ideas of governance. Ever conventional and conservative, Floyd concludes that monarchies are the best forms of government. Available via Early English Books Online for purchase.

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                                                                                  • Mentz, Steven R. “Reason, Faith, and Shipwreck in Sidney’s New Arcadia.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 44.1 (Winter 2004): 1–18.

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                                                                                    Mentz explores three episodes of shipwreck in Sidney’s revised text as ways of generating a mutually supportive relationship between reason and faith. While not explicitly utopian, the argument supports a reading of Sidney as successfully working through theological and political dilemmas of his age. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                    • Nicholas, Thomas. A Pleasant Dialogue betweene a Lady Called Listra and a Pilgrim. London: J. Charlewood, 1579.

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                                                                                      Unique in featuring a woman as a main speaker in the dialogue, this work has a Christian tone and focuses on the English legal system. Like More, a clear influence, the work seeks to establish the terms of a just society. Available via Early English Books Online for purchase.

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                                                                                      • Olmstead, Wendy. “The Gentle Doctor: Renaissance/Reformation Friendship, Rhetoric, and Emotion in Sidney’s Old Arcadia.” Modern Philology 103.2 (November 2005): 156–186.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/506534Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        This article looks at Sidney’s text in terms of the relationship between masculine understandings of dominance and the Renaissance/Reformation practice of gently persuasive speech. Olmstead asserts that this interaction informs Sidney’s understanding of conversation and friendship. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                        • Sidney, Sir Philip. The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. Edited by Maurice Evans. New York: Penguin, 1977.

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                                                                                          This modern edition of the “New” or composite Arcadia combines the first published version of 1590 with later additions from 1593. In addition to the pastoral Golden World explored in the “Old” Arcadia, the adventures of the “New” version take up questions of statecraft, especially in the princes’ adventures through the Mediterranean world in Book 2 and the incomplete war episodes of Book 3.

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                                                                                          • Sidney, Sir Philip. The Old Arcadia. Edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                            This early complete version of Sidney’s Arcadia explores the consequences of a royal family’s retreat to the pastoral countryside only to be torn apart by love when two young princes arrive on the scene. Its vision of the political dangers of Golden World behavior strikes a more cautionary note than More’s vision of possible political change.

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                                                                                            • Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene. Edited by A. C. Hamilton. London: Longman, 2001.

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                                                                                              Spenser’s massive epic aims to “fashion a gentlemen . . . in virtuous and gentle discipline,” but his focus often shifts from the individual to larger questions of state. Many locations have utopian resonance, from the House of Holinesse in Book 1 to Mount Acidale in Book 6. The text was originally published in 1590 and 1596.

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                                                                                              The 17th Century

                                                                                              The tumultuous 17th century in England saw a surge in utopian texts. These works responded to the creation of England’s first oversea colonies in Virginia early in the century and later the mid-century crises of the Stuart monarchy, Civil War, and Restoration. Utopias served as synthetic fictions, in that these texts attempted to suture together distinct or even opposed values circulating in English culture. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) transformed a semicolonial island into an allegory of art as well as slavery. Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis (1624) attempted to combine Christian faith with an early description of empirical science. Later in the century, writers including Francis Godwin, Margaret Cavendish, and others continued to write protoscientific utopias throughout the century. The eruption of Civil War, the Interregnum, and the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy colored the works of Margaret Cavendish, Henry Neville, and others. After the Restoration, authors including Aphra Behn continued to use utopian fictions to make political and artistic comments about English culture.

                                                                                              William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611)

                                                                                              Perhaps the most famous early-17th-century utopian text, The Tempest has long been a battlefield for scholarship. Despite its Mediterranean setting, scholars have explored the relationships among Prospero, Caliban, and Ariel as metaphors for New World colonialism. Prospero’s controlling vision transforms More’s blueprint into a site for political struggle. Ebner 1965 and Bulger 1994 provide overviews of utopian thinking in the play, while Frey 1979 explores the New World context. Skura 1989 offers an excellent summary of the then-current state of colonial and utopian discourse in the play’s reception, and Marshall 1998 connects the play to other early-17th-century dramatic works. The edition of The Tempest chosen here, Shakespeare 1999, contains a very full bibliography and discussion of source materials including More.

                                                                                              • Bulger, Thomas. “The Utopic Structure of The Tempest.” Utopian Studies 5.1 (1994): 38–47.

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                                                                                                Bulger examines the role of utopia in The Tempest, providing an interesting analysis of the play’s acknowledgment that a utopic society is inherently fragile yet still a desirable end. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                • Ebner, Dean. “The Tempest: Rebellion and the Ideal State.” Shakespeare Quarterly 16.2 (Spring 1965): 161–173.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2868262Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Ebner offers a general overview and summary of how utopian ideals are at work in the play. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                  • Frey, Charles. “The Tempest and the New World.” Shakespeare Quarterly 30.1 (Winter 1979): 29–41.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2869659Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    This article explores accounts of the New World and their influence on The Tempest. It contains a fair amount of historical information regarding explorers and their travelogues. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                    • Marshall, Tristan. “The Tempest and the British Imperium in 1611.” Historical Journal 41.2 (June 1998): 375–400.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0018246X98007791Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Marshall uses Eastward Ho, Masque of Flowers, and Memorable Masque to illustrate how colonialism would have been perceived by a Jacobean audience. Marshall asserts that the function of The Tempest would not have been to interrogate Jacobean colonialism, but rather to depict the dominance of the British Isles in 1603. It is in dialogue with material presented in the Skura article. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                      • Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Edited by Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan. London: Arden, 1999.

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                                                                                                        This Arden second series contains a well-edited text and a thorough consideration of the long history of Tempest studies, including connections between the play and New World explorations. It also contains a fine survey of influential modern productions of the play.

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                                                                                                        • Skura, Meredith Anne. “Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in The Tempest.” Shakespeare Quarterly 40.1 (Spring 1989): 42–69.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2870753Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Skura focuses on revisionist essays, part of a growing trend in shifting readings of The Tempest from those of idealism to a focus on English colonialism. This article presents a very thorough discussion of the implications of colonial discourse on this play. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                          Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis (1624)

                                                                                                          Bacon’s treatise (see Bacon 2008), published in Latin in 1624 and in English in 1627, is both a utopian blueprint and one of the crucial texts in the birth of early modern science. At the center of his imagined island kingdom, discovered off the coast of Peru, sits an institution built for scholarship and research, Solomon’s House, which anticipated and influenced the structure of the modern research university. Bacon resembles More in many ways, including being an advisor to his king, but he lacks More’s ironic playfulness of tone. Albanese 1990 explores the practical politics of the text. Craig 2010 considers it as a work of political theory. Houston 2006 connects it to the meanings of exotic locations in early modern England, and Kendrick 2003 argues for propagandistic Bacon. McKnight 2007 argues against Bacon’s primary interest in science in favor of a deeply religious author. Renaker 1990 also focuses on religion and, in particular, the place of miracles. Smith 2008 attempts to suture up the religion-science divide in The New Atlantis by arguing that the text presupposes this split and attempts to resolve it.

                                                                                                          • Albanese, Denise. “The New Atlantis and the Uses of Utopia.” ELH 57.3 (Autumn 1990): 503–528.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/2873232Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            This article explores Bacon’s use of fiction to reexamine social and political activities. Albanese draws specific attention to the incompleteness of the text, and how that functions in science and utopian thought. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                            • Bacon, Francis. The Major Works. Edited by Brian Vickers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                              Vickers’s edition is an excellent edition of Bacon’s utopia in the context of his other works, including his Essays.

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                                                                                                              • Craig, Tobin L. “On the Significance of the Literary Character of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis for an Understanding of His Political Thought.” Review of Politics 72 (2010): 213–239.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/S0034670510000033Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This article is an attempt to reconcile the utopian qualities of Bensalem with Bacon’s rejection of classic modes of political thought associated with the utopian tradition. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                • Houston, Chlöe. “‘An Idea for a Principality’? Encountering the East in Bacon’s New Atlantis.” Seventeenth Century 21.1 (Spring 2006): 22–32.

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                                                                                                                  Using Hall’s Mundus Alter et Idem as framework, Houston discusses how Bacon encourages a specific reading of the text—using a place that is foreign, but known; fictitious, but real. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                  • Kendrick, Christopher. “The Imperial Laboratory: Discovering Form in The New Atlantis.” ELH 70.4 (Winter 2003): 1021–1042.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/elh.2004.0007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Kendrick argues that Bacon’s use of the utopian genre furthers his “propagandistic” message. He then questions the importance of Bacon’s obsession with science. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                    • McKnight, Stephen A. “Religion and Francis Bacon’s Scientific Utopianism.” Zygon 42.2 (June 2007): 463–486.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2007.00463.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      McKnight challenges the idea of Bacon as a modern, forward-thinker on the grounds of his religious convictions, including his notion of being called by God to revolutionize society. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                      • Renaker, David. “A Miracle of Engineering: The Conversion of Bensalem in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.” Studies in Philology 87.2 (Spring 1990): 181–193.

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                                                                                                                        Renaker’s article focuses specifically on the miracles in Salomon’s House and the religious controversies regarding miracles at that time. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                        • Smith, Suzanne. “The New Atlantis: Francis Bacon’s Theological-Political Utopia?” Harvard Theological Review 101.1 (2008): 97–125.

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                                                                                                                          Smith rejects both oppositional views that Bacon is critical of religion over science and that Bacon was guided by powerful religious convictions. She proposes that instead Bacon presents a society torn between religious and scientific thought on the order of nature. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          Francis Godwin and Scientific Utopias

                                                                                                                          Like Bacon, Godwin was both a scientist and a writer of utopian narrative. For modern readers, the strangest quality of The Man in the Moone (originally published in 1638; see Godwin 2009) is the text’s simultaneous commitment to being both of these things at once. Godwin’s story of flying to the moon is at the same time a utopian fiction and a work of early scientific speculative and experimental imagination. Poole 2003 explicates the scope of Godwin’s influence, and Poole 2005 provides background on Godwin’s own influences. Cressy 2006 explores the religious and cultural aspects of lunar enthusiast texts. Simoson 2007 examines Godwin’s work from a mathematical standpoint.

                                                                                                                          Gott, Hall, Heywood, and Lodwick

                                                                                                                          The following lesser-known texts provide a fuller picture of the utopian landscape in 17th-century England, beyond the familiar works of Bacon, Shakespeare, and Godwin. The list provides a rich context for the emerging conflict between scientific analysis and theological fervor. Bacon and Godwin believed these two areas could never come into conflict, but later utopian fictions from the 17th century reflect a less sanguine vision of religious and social conflict. Gott 1902 presents a radical vision of the need for religious purification. Hall 1981 follows a voyage to an imagined Antipodes. Heywood 1874 takes the opposite tack in presenting a preclassical Golden Age to the London stage. Lodwick 2007 is the work of a technical linguist exploring the characteristic features of the utopian genre. These texts have attracted relatively little critical attention. Sargent 1989 addresses Samuel Gott’s moderate millenarianism, while Patrick 1977 focuses on stylistic and thematic issues in the text. Salyer 1927 presents a range of influences on Bishop Hall’s writing. Poole 2004 offers background on Francis Lodwick’s life and work.

                                                                                                                          • Gott, Samuel. Nova Solyma. Edited by Walter Begley. New York: Scribner, 1902.

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                                                                                                                            Published in Latin, Gott’s treatise in six books imagines the need to purify the universe from the creation of the world to its redemption. Originally published in 1648. Available via Early English Books Online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            • Hall, Bishop Joseph. Another World and Yet the Same: Mundus Alter et Idem. Edited by John Millar Wands. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                              Translated into English in 1609, this Latin work follows a voyage to the Antipodes or “Terra Australis.” It served as a model for Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Available via Early English Books Online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                              • Heywood, Thomas. The Golden Age: The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood. Vol. 2. London: J. Pearson, 1874.

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                                                                                                                                The first in a series of five plays, titled The Ages, which focus on classical mythology, The Golden Age dramatizes the story of Saturn and Jupiter. Originally published in 1611. Available via Early English Books Online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                • Lodwick, Francis. A Country Not Named. Edited by William Poole. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                  Lodwick was a Dutch merchant who was dedicated to the questions of synthetic or invented languages. His other works are technical linguistic studies, but A Country Not Named participates in the conventions of utopian narrative. Originally published in 1675. Available via Early English Books Online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                  • Patrick, J. Max. “Nova Solyma: Samuel Gott’s Puritan Utopia.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 10.2 (1977): 43–55.

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                                                                                                                                    Patrick presents a case for examining this Latin text within the framework of English prose, based on determinants such as bilingualism and its Puritan themes.

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                                                                                                                                    • Poole, William. “A Rare Early-Modern Utopia: Francis Lodwick’s A Country Not Named (c. 1675).” Utopian Studies 15.2 (Winter 2004): 117–139.

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                                                                                                                                      Poole offers background information on Lodwick, his reading and writing, and a description and analysis of A Country Not Named. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                      • Salyer, Sandford M. “Renaissance Influences in Hall’s Mundus Alter et Idem.” Philological Quarterly 6.4 (October 1927): 321–330.

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                                                                                                                                        In this article, Salyer presents a catalogue of the literary and historical resources that shape Hall’s work. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                        • Sargent, Lyman Tower. “Millennium and Revolution: Two Themes in Seventeenth-Century British Utopianism.” Utopian Studies 2 (1989): 38–49.

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                                                                                                                                          Sargent looks at the work of “radical millenarians” and also the more moderate millenarian Samuel Gott. All these writers called for an extreme transformation of society for the new millennium. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                          Comenius, Wilkins, Hartlib and Platte, and Kepler

                                                                                                                                          Mid-17th-century English utopian fictions were no more isolated from Continental goings-on than More had been. This collection of primary sources includes Comenius 1997, a Czech allegory that continues to find modern readers; a series of scientific works including Wilkins 1638 and Kepler 1967, both of which combine fictional narratives with state-of-the-art astronomical knowledge; and Hartlib and Platte 1641, an explicit continuation of More’s Utopia. Dahlin 2009 looks at education and psycho-utopianism in Comenius’s life and work. Stimson 1935 studies the Invisible College and Comenius’s scientific interests.

                                                                                                                                          • Comenius, Jan Amos. The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart. Translated by Howard Louthan and Andrea Sterk. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                            Often compared to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, this autobiographical work follows a pilgrim through an urban marketplace. Comenius sought to illustrate the folly of humans and his disillusionment with the world.

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                                                                                                                                            • Dahlin, Bo. “Education and Psycho-Utopiansim—Comenius, Skinner, and Beyond.” World Futures 65 (2009): 507–526.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/02604020902733371Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              In this piece, Dahlin focuses on Comenius’s own educational philosophies, through a comparison with B. F. Skinner. Dahlin looks at how both deal with the notion of psycho-utopianism, or the idea that a utopian society would create a new type of man. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hartlib, Samuel, and Gabriel Platte. A Description of the Famous Kingdom of Macaria. London: Francis Constable, 1641.

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                                                                                                                                                The name Macaria comes from More’s Utopia—Macaria is an island off Utopia—and the text speaks to the divisive issue of church and state in Hartlib’s time. Macaria presents a society where this struggle is absent in favor of a commonwealth in which government and society coexist harmoniously, working together. Available via Early English Books Online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                • Kepler, Johannes. Kepler’s Somnium. Translated by Edward Rosen. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.

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                                                                                                                                                  Influenced by Plutarch’s The Face of the Moon, Somnium (The Dream) was published posthumously in 1634. It describes an imagined voyage to the moon. Kepler’s text distinguishes itself from other lunar voyages through Kepler’s astute knowledge of Copernican science and the staggering difficulties of such a journey. Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov have called Somnium the first work of science fiction. The text of Somnium is available online at Kepler Info.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Stimson, Dorothy. “Comenius and the Invisible College.” Isis 23.2 (September 1935): 373–388.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/346969Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Stimson looks at the Invisible College, predating the Royal Society, as an outlet for scientific investigation, and Comenius’s own interest in science as knowledge. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Wilkins, John. The Discovery of a World in the Moone. London: Edward Griffin for Michael Sparke and Edward Forrest, 1638.

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                                                                                                                                                      The Discovery of a World in the Moone seeks to defend the work of Kepler, Copernicus, and Galileo. In the text, Wilkins argues that the earth is similar to other celestial elements. Available via Early English Books Online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                      Margaret Cavendish

                                                                                                                                                      As much as any 17th-century English writer, Margaret Cavendish’s career has seen a resurgence of interest since the 1990s. A scientist, poet, woman, and staunch royalist, Cavendish has proved a fascinating subject for modern critical interest. Her primary utopian fiction, The Blazing World (1666), has occasioned the most study, but her other literary writings and her scientific work have also attracted attention. Cavendish presented her work to a meeting of the Royal Society in 1667 and was the only English woman known to publish books of natural philosophy in the 17th century. Bonin 2000 examines the feminine space in Cavendish’s utopia. Fowler 1996 also addresses gender issues, but in terms of Cavendish’s politics. Holmesland 1999 and Leslie 1996 both focus on the issue of Cavendish’s legacy, female literary success, and the male canon. Iyengar 2002 examines the relationship between Cavendish’s scientific and social convictions, and Nate 2001 explores the role of the Royal Society in Cavendish’s work. Robinson 2003 reads Cavendish’s work as a lesbian text. Trubowitz 1992 resists reading Cavendish’s text as escapist.

                                                                                                                                                      • Bonin, Erin Lang. “Margaret Cavendish’s Dramatic Utopias and the Politics of Gender.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 40.2 (Spring 2000): 339–354.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/1556132Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This study looks at how Cavendish not only shifts notions of private and public, but also creates realms for women removed from male spheres. These new realms are places in which women hold all power. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Fowler, Ellayne. “Margaret Cavendish and the Ideal Commonwealth.” Utopian Studies 7.1 (1996): 38–48.

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                                                                                                                                                          Fowler compares “Judgment’s Commonwealth” with Blazing World in an attempt to illustrate not only Cavendish’s royalism, but also her gendered notion of utopia. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Holmesland, Oddvar. “Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World: Natural Art and the Body Politic.” Studies in Philology 96.4 (Autumn 1999): 457–479.

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                                                                                                                                                            This article pushes against the viewpoint that Cavendish aimed only for her own individuality and success, rather than collective female acceptance. Holmesland argues that Cavendish saw the ability to have this individuality and artistic space as a benefit of wider feminist advances. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Iyengar, Sujata. “Royalist, Romanticist, Racialist: Rank, Gender, and Race in the Science and Fiction of Margaret Cavendish.” ELH 69.3 (Fall 2002): 649–672.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/elh.2002.0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This article puts conflicting sides of Cavendish’s belief system in conversation with one another. Iyengar argues that Cavendish’s scientific convictions allowed for her belief in issues of rank and inferiority, while her fiction allowed her to imagine a world where these issues were transcended. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Leslie, Marina. “Gender, Genre, and the Utopian Body in Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World.” Utopian Studies 7.1 (1996): 6–24.

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                                                                                                                                                                Leslie addresses Cavendish’s “struggle” for acceptance into a male literary cannon while writing feminist utopian works that challenge exactly such designations. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Nate, Richard. “‘Plain and Vulgarly Express’d’: Margaret Cavendish and the Discourse of the New Science.” Rhetorica 19.4 (Autumn 2001): 403–417.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This article examines the increasing influence of the scientific writings of the Royal Society on Cavendish’s work. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Robinson, David Michael. “Pleasant Conversation in the Seraglio: Lesbianism, Platonic Love, and Cavendish’s Blazing World.” Eighteenth Century 44.2–3 (June 2003): 133–166.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Robinson reads Blazing World as “one of the richest” lesbian texts of the early modern period. In the article, he addresses issues of enacting the imaginary and transgressing boundaries. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Trubowitz, Rachel. “The Reenchantment of Utopia and the Female Monarchical Self: Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 11.2 (Autumn 1992): 229–245.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/464299Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      This article resists The Blazing World’s being categorized as escapist and asserts that Cavendish’s reworking of the utopian format is “culturally subversive and politically nostalgic.” Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Civil War Utopias

                                                                                                                                                                      The tumultuous landscape of the English Civil War (1642–1651) gave rise to a series of sectarian utopian visions. The pamphlet wars between radical groups such as the Levelers and assorted Puritan factions on the one hand, and supporters of King Charles on the other, created fertile ground for the deployment of More’s fantastical genre. Cary 1651 presents the radical vision of a millenarian revolutionary. Winstanley 2006 (originally published 1652) also displays the radicalism of a radical member of the “Diggers.” The most famous of these texts is Harrington 1992, which is now considered a foundational work of English political theory. It demonstrates that one direction utopia took in the mid-17th century was toward political science and an increasingly precise focus on the mechanisms of the state. Loewenstein 2006 concentrates its discussion on Mary Cary’s radical politics and scriptural interpretations. Looking at Gerrard Winstanley specifically, Webb 2004 examines the shifting demands and roles of the utopian genre. Cotton 1979 studies the Aristotelian influence on James Harrington.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Cary, Lady Mary. A New and More Exact Mappe. London: Printed for the author, 1651.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A millenarian and Fifth Monarchist, Cary filled her work with apocalyptic language and zeal. She offers some of the most radical scriptural commentary of her time. Available via Early English Books Online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Cotton, James. “James Harrington as Aristotelian.” Political Theory 7.3 (August 1979): 371–389.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/009059177900700305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This study of Harrington focuses on a direct analysis of Harrington’s employment of Aristotle in his own political thinking, claiming that Harrington’s use of Aristotelian thought is unmediated. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Harrington, James. The Commonwealth of Oceana. Edited by J. G. A. Pocock. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Part of the Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought series, this edition of Harrington’s work emphasizes its value in understanding the radical political changes of the English Civil War. The text places Harrington firmly inside the discourse of political theory.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Loewenstein, David. “Scriptural Exegesis, Female Prophecy, and Radical Politics in Mary Cary.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 46.1 (Winter 2006): 133–153.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Lowenstein focuses on Cary’s complex and radical scriptural commentaries, as well as her proclivities toward prophecy and apocalypse. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Webb, Darren. “The Bitter Product of Defeat? Reflections on Winstanley’s Law of Freedom.” Political Studies 52 (2004): 199–215.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2004.00475.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Webb questions the widely held argument that Law of Freedom marked a shift in Winstanley’s thinking. In the article, Webb asserts that Winstanley’s views did not change; rather, the demands of the utopian genre shifted. Webb champions Winstanley’s endeavor to learn and utilize the shifting language of utopia. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Winstanley, Gerrard. The Law of Freedom and Other Writings. Edited by Christopher Hill. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Winstanley was a prominent member of the radical group of Protestant reformers known as the True Levellers, or “Diggers,” because they took over public land to plant crops. The Law of Freedom was written in 1652, after the collapse of Winstanley’s digging experiments. The text legitimizes the recent English Civil War through an appeal to divine history. It aimed, without success, to appeal to Oliver Cromwell.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Neville’s Isle of Pines (1688)

                                                                                                                                                                                  Henry Neville’s semi-pornographic account of a paradise island discovered by Dutch sailors, The Isle of Pines, was a great 17th-century success, appearing in thirty editions in six languages across Europe. The story of European dalliances with naked islanders presumably titillated readers, but Neville, a staunch republican and enemy of the Restoration, seems to have meant to reflect the decadence and weakness of the English regime. A new edition, Scheckter 2011, combines the text with a thorough study; having this work available should increase scholarship on this text. Beach 2000 and Hardy 2006 offer distinctive discussions of the text, with Beach exploring maritime issues and Hardy examining the text’s engravings. Boesky 1995 introduces three new issues at work in the text, while Mahlberg 2006a focuses on the text’s capacity for multiple readings. Both Mahlberg 2006b and Stillman 2006 discuss the text in terms of Neville’s contemporaries.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Beach, Adam R. “A Profound Pessimism about the Empire: The Isle of Pines, English Degeneracy, and Dutch Supremacy.” Eighteenth Century 41 (2000): 21–36.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Beach both focuses on the distinction between the maritime power of the Dutch and the degeneracy of English mariners and argues that the text is an attack on Charles II’s court. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Boesky, Amy. “Nation, Miscegenation: Membering Utopia in Henry Neville’s The Isle of Pines.” Texas Studies in Language and Literature 37 (1995): 165–184.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Boesky argues that three new topics are introduced, and inter-involved, in Neville’s work: English sexual desire, African slavery, and political insurrection. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hardy, Nat. “Euphemizing Utopia: Repressing Sex and Violence in The Isle of Pines’ Frontispiece.” Utopian Studies 17.1 (2006): 99–107.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        In this article, Hardy examines how the engravings that open the book, having been sanitized, offer a misleading interpretation of the work. Hardy’s attention to textuality offers a compelling lens through which to view The Isle of Pines. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mahlberg, Gaby. “The Critical Reception of The Isle of Pines.” Utopian Studies 17.1 (2006a): 133–142.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Mahlberg details a number of different readings of the work, proposing that none are completely correct or incorrect; instead, the text warrants a multilayered interpretation. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Mahlberg, Gaby. “Historical and Political Contexts of The Isle of Pines.” Utopian Studies 17.1 (2006b): 111–129.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            In another article, Mahlberg discusses Neville’s work in terms of his contemporaries, such as James Harrington (The Commonwealth of Oceana) and Sir Robert Filmer (Patriarcha). Malhberg also includes a discussion of Neville’s own biography as well as his views on religion and politics. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Scheckter, John. The Isle of Pines, 1688: Henry Neville’s Uncertain Utopia. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              This new study of Neville’s work also includes an edited text. This edition should stimulate more work on this lively fiction.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Stillman, Peter. “Monarchy, Disorder, and Politics in The Isle of Pines.” Utopian Studies 17.1 (2006): 147–175.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Stillman focuses on Isle of Pines as a political and utopian text, drawing attention to Neville’s commentary on the political thinking of figures such as Filmer, Harrington, and Thomas Hobbes. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688)

                                                                                                                                                                                                Like that of Margaret Cavendish, Behn’s complex life and prominence as a woman writer have generated a vast bibliography about her works. The most popular of her works is her semi-utopian fiction, Oroonoko, which tells the story of a slave uprising in then-English Surinam. Several modern editions exist, including Behn 2009, which includes a thorough sampling from elsewhere in Behn’s career, and Behn 1999, which provides a wide variety of contextual and historical materials. Behn may have witnessed events like those she describes during her trip to the area in 1663. A Tory and royalist, she worked as a spy for Charles II and was famously celebrated by Virginia Woolf as the first professional woman writer in English. Holmesland 2001 explores the cultural and social transitions at work in the text. Athey and Alarcon 1993 and Ferguson 1991 focus on relationships among race, class, and gender in Behn’s work. Dickson 2007 explores relationships among truth, narration, and fiction. Kroll 2004 discusses the influence of Behn’s royalism on her work. Similarly, Visconsi 2002 focuses on the politics that influence Behn’s writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Athey, Stephanie, and Daniel Cooper Alarcon. “Oroonoko’s Gendered Economies of Honor/Horror: Refraining Colonial Discourse Studies in the Americas.” American Literature 65.3 (September 1993): 415–443.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2927388Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Athey and Alarcon argue that in Oroonoko, Behn endows herself as narrator and white female with spiritual and metaphysical qualities, while imbuing black females with purely physical traits. They also provide historical background. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave. Edited by Catherine Gallagher. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gallagher’s edition includes many contextual works and historical materials.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko and Other Writings. Edited by Paul Salzman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Salzman’s edition includes a generous survey of other works by Behn in prose and verse.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dickson, Vernon Guy. “Truth, Wonder, and Exemplarity in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko.” Studies in English Literature 47.3 (Summer 2007): 573–594.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dickson focuses on the debate over the truthfulness of Behn’s account, in the face of changing ideas regarding truth and its relationship to fact and fiction during her time. Dickson concludes that to write solely about the truthfulness of Oroonoko would be to betray Behn’s narration. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ferguson, Margaret W. “Juggling the Categories of Race, Class, and Gender: Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko.” Women’s Studies 19 (1991): 159–181.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/00497878.1991.9978863Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ferguson opens with a thorough discussion of feminist literary discourse, which then frames a discussion of Oroonoko using both these terms and its own historical context. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Holmesland, Oddvar. “Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko: Cultural Dialectics and the Novel.” ELH 68.1 (Spring 2001): 57–79.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/elh.2001.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Holmesland reads the novel as marking an “uneasy transition” from an aristocratic system to a “more rational, progressive age.” Furthermore, Holmesland sees Behn as ambiguously poised across this social and cultural divide, both representing the instability of these two competing systems and attempting to build bridges between them. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Kroll, Richard. “‘Tales of Love and Gallantry’: The Politics of Oroonoko.” Huntington Library Quarterly 67.4 (2004): 573–605.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1525/hlq.2004.67.4.573Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kroll reads and analyzes Oroonoko through the structures of neoclassical writing. He asserts that the aims of Oroonoko align with Behn’s own royalism. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Visconsi, Elliott. “A Degenerate Race: English Barbarism in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko and The Widow Ranter.” ELH 69.3 (Fall 2002): 673–701.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/elh.2002.0029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This article is a thorough examination of how these two works critique Whig ideology and what Behn considers its corruptness, violence, and barbarism. Visconsi argues that Behn capitalizes on the pervasive social anxiety over a not-too-distant barbaric national past. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                After the Restoration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 provided another political shock to English utopian writers. While none of these texts has achieved the cultural prominence of earlier 17th-century utopian fictions, they demonstrate the continuing currency of the genre in the later 17th century. H. R. 1660 indicates its debt to Bacon by prefacing its own fiction with a lengthy summary of The New Atlantis. Howard 1671 attempted to bring the utopian genre to the stage, with little popular success. Barnes 1675 also announces its debt to Bacon, and like its model attempts to combine Christian and classical materials in a utopian vision. Vairasse 1675 sets its utopia in Australia and may be an intellectual exploration of religious tolerance. The early stirrings of dystopian satire, which would emerge fully in Swift, also appear here, especially in an enigmatic text such as The Free State of Noland (Anonymous 1696), which may be a parody of a democratic utopian vision. The pseudonymous Philadept 1698 also models relationships inside a diverse community, and seems to have influenced Swift. More work remains to be done on all of these under-read texts, and with their relative accessibility increased by Early English Books Online, we can expect further scholarship in this area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The 18th Century

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The 18th century saw the continued expansion of the utopian genre and also the birth of its dystopian counterpart. Daniel Defoe’s mythic narrative Robinson Crusoe (Defoe 2003), which has been read as a parable of capitalist development by Karl Marx and many others, provides an optimistic blueprint, but Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels counters with a blistering attack on human follies and errors. Many other writers fall somewhere in the middle between Defoe’s and Swift’s visions. Morgan 1946 marks the first utopian narrative published in the United States. Reminiscent of Swift, Brunt 1727 details the travels of Captain Samuel Brunt. Kirby 1745 explores morality and knowledge, as well as relationships between the natural and supernatural. Paralleling Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (first published in 1719), Paltock 2009 (first published in 1751) is also a castaway tale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brunt, Captain Samuel. A Voyage to Cacklogallinia. London: J. Watson, 1727.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Like Swift’s Gulliver, Captain Brunt finds himself in a strange land—Cacklogallinia, inhabited and governed by giant poultry. The author, who is unknown, directly attacks what he believes to be an age defined by luxury and infidelity. Available via Eighteenth Century Collections Online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. Edited by John Richetti. New York: Penguin, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Defoe’s famous tale, first published in London in 1719 and later reprinted and expanded many times, adapts the familiar deserted-island motif of many utopian fictions. Crusoe’s island home models an ideal state, but the castaway in his solitude does not address the social and cultural problems typical of More’s genre.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kirby, John. Automathes. London: R. Manby and H. Shute Cox, 1745.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Primarily religious in tone, the text explores education, morality, and knowledge by telling the story of the self-education of a nobleman abandoned on an island. Unlike other texts of imaginary adventure, Kirby draws very visible, yet permeable, boundaries between the supernatural world and the natural world. Available via Eighteenth Century Collections Online for purchase.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Morgan, Joseph. The History of the Kingdom of Basaruah. Edited by Richard Schlatter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1946.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The first utopian narrative published in America (in 1715), the text reflects shifting ideals in a particularly American context as a “Traveller” journeys to this imaginary kingdom just north of North America. Morgan was a Calvinist minister, and the text illustrates his having been largely influenced by Bunyan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Paltock, Robert. The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins. Vol. 1. Edited by A. H. Buller. Gloucester, UK: Dodo Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First published in 1751, this castaway romance, resonant of Robinson Crusoe, features people with the ability to fly. During its time it gained little recognition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Swift’s famous satire of travel tales and miraculous visions can be considered a full critical assault on the utopian genre as it developed in the 150 years after More. Inaugurating the dystopian vision that would become typical of 20th-century writers, Swift parodies human folly and satirizes social and cultural arrangements. Rivero 2001, the Norton critical edition, includes a large amount of valuable supplementary reading. Castle 1980 is an influential article that has been cited as one of the first “postmodern” readings of Swift. Chalmers 1995, in the vein of Castle, addresses the prevalence of fear in the text. Radner 1992 and Houston 2007 both explore the dystopian elements of Swift’s work, while Hammond 1982 reads the text in terms of utopian reason. Sullivan 1984 looks specifically at Gulliver’s fourth voyage as a utopian fiction. Rielly 1992 traces More’s influence on Swift’s writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Castle, Terry J. “Why the Houyhnhnms Don’t Write: Swift, Satire, and Fear of the Text.” Essays in Literature 7 (1980): 21–44.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This influential article argues for a supremely parodic Swift. Castle’s article has been taken to launch a “postmodern” reading of Gulliver’s Travels.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Chalmers, Alan D. Jonathan Swift and the Burden of the Future. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Arguing that Swift’s career is marked by “his acute apprehension of the future,” this study modulates between a fear of universal decay and the possibility of utopian renewal. Swift’s critical relationship to the utopian tradition appears in his abiding skepticism about his own and England’s posterity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hammond, Eugene R. “Nature-Reason-Justice in Utopia and Gulliver’s Travels.” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 22.3 (Summer 1982): 445–468.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/450241Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In this article, Hammond reads both texts as works about utopian justice rather than utopian reason. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Houston, Chlöe. “Utopia, Dystopia, or Anti-utopia? Gulliver’s Travels and the Utopian Mode of Discourse.” Utopian Studies 18.3 (2007): 425–442.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Houston identifies the text as simultaneously utopian and dystopian. She explores the definition of a “utopian” text and asserts that Gulliver’s Travels, rather than being distinctly utopian, engages with ideas found within the utopian genre. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Radner, John B. “The Fall and Decline: Gulliver’s Travels and the Failure of Utopia.” Utopian Studies 3.2 (1992): 50–74.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Radner treats Gulliver’s Travels as an attack on utopian optimism and the first in a long line of overtly dystopian fictions. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Rielly, Edward. “Irony in Gulliver’s Travels and Utopia.” Utopian Studies 3.1 (1992): 70–83.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rielly acknowledges that the connection between the two works is well known; however, he asserts that this paper more carefully examines the relationship between the two. He discusses how Swift saw in More a “kindred spirit.” Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Rivero, Albert J., ed. Gulliver’s Travels. New York: Norton, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This Norton critical edition is especially useful for its back matter, which includes some of Swift’s letters about the response to the book, Alexander Pope’s poems about it, and some passages from Rabelais that Swift adapts. It also includes a wide range of critical essays on Swift’s text.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Sullivan, E. E. “Houyhnhnms and Yahoos: From Technique to Meaning.” Studies in English Literature 24.3 (1984): 497–511.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/450541Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sullivan looks at the fourth voyage, particularly the debate surrounding interpretation and characterization of the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos. Sullivan argues that in order to fully see the satire of the work, one must resist placing too stringent of demands on the characters and relationships. The article offers a balanced reading and perspective. Available online by subscription.

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