Uploaded by JarJarBinks on Jul 05, 2004
As its title hints, the essay which follows is not the history but biographical of an idea. The idea for the book called Utopia. Like all ideas for books it was born and had its whole life span in the mind of an author. Like all such ideas it ceased to be when the printed book Utopia became a black-on-white reality. Although there is no accurate record of its birth date, it seems to have been born in the mind of Sir Thomas More. As the writer I shall have to take into account the environment in which our subject passed its life and that environment was the mind of Sir Thomas More. To establish the lineaments of the idea for Utopia we shall perforce, for lack of better sources of information, rely on the book called Utopia We ourselves shall have to look very closely to separate the thinkers thought from the literary tricks of the trade.
More's intentions in Utopia, must remain mysterious. A little more difficult to accept is the general implication of the review that the mysteriousness of the author's intent in Utopia is somehow a point in his favor, that the obscurity of his meaning enhances the merit of his work. The one point of unanimous agreement about Utopia is it is a work of social comment. Since Utopia is a work of many ideas, it is impossible of course to expand the book unless one has some notion of the hierarchy of conception in it. A caretul reading of Utopia does seem to me to reveal clearly the hierarchy of it author's ideas at the time he composed the book. Although the interpretation of Utopia which follows has no pretension to substantial novelty, but rather disavows it, my approach to the problem may seem singular and eccentric. The account of such an analysis will necessarily be a little dull, so I shall have to request the forbearance of the reader without being able to promise for his patience any large reward in the shape of a brand new insight.
The inconsistency between the prospectus in the curious paragraph and the subject matter that follows in the printed version of Utopia becomes intelligible if we make a few assumptions about the development of the books composition. The conclusion various scholars have come to about More's attitude toward the institution of property coincides to a remarkable degree with...