Utopia by Thomas More

Utopia by Thomas More is one of those books I wanted to read for a while, I had it on the bookshelves, but kept postponing for some reason. I think seeing his painting on the wall of Oriel Hall made me want to read it now. I am so happy I finally read it. It is a fascinating book. It was published in 1516, a work of fiction, which introduced the term utopia and created the genre of utopian/dystopian literature. My book was a Penguin Classics edition, translation from the Latin by Dominic Baker-Smith. It also included an introduction and notes on the text.

Utopia by Thomas More

Utopia is Thomas More’s imaginary traveller account through a newly discovered island. Raphael describes the island to More. This book needs to be read with the historical context in mind to fully appreciate it. My edition included chronology, notes, appendices, glossary and suggested further reading. These are helpful, of course, but the historical context is needed before reading the book. Although, just by keeping in mind that it was published in 1516 would make one sufficiently aware of how new and controversial were some of the ideas in the book.

I think this is a must read because of his views, expressed in writing which was published and it became a bestseller with multiple prints being made in the first few years of publishing. He talked about customs, views on women’s role in society which is interesting in how contradictory the ideas are, but he did not realise it. Some of the things he mentioned are controversial even today, after over 500 years. I think, for a book this short, of under 150 pages with all the additions included, it is worth spending the time to read it.

Utopia by Thomas More

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My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Penguin Classics
Year it was published: first published in 1516
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Classic
Pages: 147

About the author: Sir Thomas More (1477-1535), venerated by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He was a councillor to Henry VIII and also served as Lord High Chancellor of England from October 1529 to 16 May 1532.
More opposed the Protestant Reformation, in particular the theology of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. He also wrote Utopia, published in 1516, about the political system of an imaginary ideal island nation. More opposed the King’s separation from the Catholic Church, refusing to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. After refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was convicted of treason and beheaded.
Pope Pius XI canonised More in 1935 as a martyr. Pope John Paul II in 2000 declared him the “heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians.” Since 1980, the Church of England has remembered More liturgically as a Reformation martyr. The Soviet Union honoured him for the Communistic attitude toward property rights expressed in Utopia.
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2 thoughts on “Utopia by Thomas More”

  • This is one of those books I’ve always known of, but never read. You’ve encouraged me to add it to my wishlist. I’ll see if I can find the Penguin Classics version. They’re usually easy to come by.
    Kelly recently posted…CC Spin #36My Profile

    • Yes, these classic are available almost everywhere and they are very cheap too. I am eager to know what you think about the book.

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