Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
How to make a better world in which to live has fascinated the minds of thinkers in every age. From Plato to the present, people have been thinking and writing about what the world would be like if people could create an earthly paradise. One of the most famous pieces of such thought and writing is Thomas More’s Utopia, a work so famous that its title has come to mean an ideal state. Originally written in Latin, the international language of medieval and Renaissance Europe, the book was widely read, and as early as 1551 a translation into English was made by Ralph Robinson, a London goldsmith.
The book is in two parts, with the second part (curiously enough) written first, in 1515, and the introductory half written in the following year. The book begins with a fictional frame story in which More tells how he traveled to Antwerp on a royal mission and there met Peter Giles, a worthy citizen of Antwerp, who in turn introduced him to Raphael Hythloday, whose name means in Greek “a talker of nonsense.”
Hythloday proves to be more than a mariner, for in his conversation he appears to More to be a man of ripe wisdom and rare experience. Hythloday was supposedly a companion of Amerigo Vespucci when that worthy was supposed to have made his voyages to America. It was on one of his voyages with Vespucci that Hythloday, according to his own account, discovered the fabled land of Utopia, somewhere in the oceans near the Western...
(The entire section is 1387 words.)
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