New Atlantis Criticism - Essay

William Rawley (essay date 1627)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: In The Works of Francis Bacon, Vol. V, James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and Douglas Denon Heath, eds., Brown and Taggard, 1862, p. 348.

[Rawley, Bacon's secretary, published the unfinished New Atlantis in 1627 at the end of the volume containing Bacon's Sylva Sylarum. In the following note to the reader, Rawley states Bacon's purpose in writing the New Atlantis.]

This fable my Lord devised, to the end that he might exhibit therein a model or description of a college instituted for the interpreting of nature and the producing of great and marvellous works for the benefit of men, under the name of Salomon's House, or the College of the Six Days' Works. And even so far his Lordship hath proceeded, as to finish that part. Certainly the model is more vast and high than can possibly be imitated in all things; notwithstanding most things therein are within men's power to effect. His Lordship thought also in this present fable to have composed a frame of Laws, or of the best state or mould of a commonwealth; but foreseeing it would be a long work, his desire of collecting the Natural History diverted him, which he preferred many degrees before it.

This work of the New Atlantis (as much as concerneth the English edition) his Lordship designed for this place; in regard it hath so near affinity (in one part of it) with the preceding Natural History.

James Spedding (essay date 1862)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Preface to The New Atlantis," in The Works of Francis Bacon, Vol. V, James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and Douglas Denon Heath, eds., Brown and Taggard, 1862, pp. 349-53.

[In the following excerpt, Spedding correllates Bacon's New Atlantis with several of his concurrent works, and describes how Bacon's desire to complete a natural history forestalled the work's completion.]

The New Atlantis seems to have been written in 1624, and, though not finished, to have been intended for publication as it stands. It was published accordingly by Dr. Rawley in 1627, at the end of the volume containing the Sylva Sylvarum; for which place Bacon...

(The entire section is 1418 words.)

Joyce Oramel Hertzler (essay date 1923)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Early Modern Utopias," in The Utopiansm of Frances, Bacon's 'New Atlantis,'" in The History of Utopian Thought, The Macmillan Company, 1923, pp. 121-80.

[In the following excerpt, Hertzler examines several Utopian aspects of the New Atlantis and comments on how the nature of Bacon's thinking best applies to social science.]

There was a paucity of Utopian literature for nearly a century following the appearance of More's Utopia. This silence was broken in England by Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, with his ingenious fragment, the New Atlantis. He never finished this work but enough remains to show what the nature of his thinking was,...

(The entire section is 3022 words.)

Moody E. Prior (essay date 1949)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Bacon's Man of Science," in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. XV, No. 3, June, 1949, pp. 348-70.

[In the excerpt below, Prior summarizes Bacon's view of the ideal man of science.]

The dominating motive of Bacon's intellectual life was the complete reformation of learning, and he labored under the conviction that he was, almost single-handed, promoting a revolution in knowledge to the end that man might win a new empire over things. In those of his writings which he regarded as the parts of his grandiose plan, he gave frequent expression to his new conception of the proper goals of human knowledge and proposed new methods by which they were to be attained....

(The entire section is 9547 words.)

A. L. Morton (essay date 1952)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Revolution and Counter-Revolution," in The English Utopia, 1952. Reprinted by Seven Seas Publishers, 1968, pp. 78-111.

(The entire section is 2820 words.)

Robert P. Adams (essay date 1954)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Social Responsibilities of Science in Utopia, New Atlantis and After," in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. X, No. 3, June, 1954, pp. 374-98.

[In the following excerpt, Adams looks at the New Atlantis as a "plan for the perfection of science and the advancement of human welfare."]

In what follows I accept [James] Spedding's conclusion that while the New Atlantis is incomplete, it seems intended for publication as it stands, that in it Bacon included "as if already known, the things he most wanted to know," and that most probably "the unfinished portions would have dealth with the method of scientific investigation rather than with...

(The entire section is 1299 words.)

Sidney Warhaft (essay date 1958)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Science Against Man in Bacon," in Bucknell Review, Vol. VII, No. 3, March, 1958, pp. 158-73.

[In the excerpt below, Warhaft points out the limitations and dangers implied by Bacon's method for a scientific utopia, arguing that he lacks the "cultivation of the entire person, " as well as "a thorough, energetic, and systematic development of the potentialities of the human as an essentially social and moral being." For these reasons, Warhaft concludes that the New Atlantis' Utopian ends are not necessarily met, and submits that his model may have contributed to the imperfections of contemporary society.]

Somewhere in New Atlantis amid the caves, towers,...

(The entire section is 6024 words.)

A. Wigfall Green (essay date 1966)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Scientific Utopia: New Atlantis," in Sir Francis Bacon, Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1966, pp. 170-78.

[In the following excerpt, Green briefly reviews the probable sources and the content of the New Atlantis.]

The New Atlantis, the most imaginative of Bacon's works, is a "fable"—as Dr. William Rawley referred to it when he published the unfinished work in 1627—intended to be used as a model of a college for the interpretation of nature "and the producing of great and marvellous works for the benefit of men under the name of Salomon's House, or the College of the Six Days' Works." Rawley says in his address to the reader that "the model is more...

(The entire section is 3606 words.)

J. Weinberger (essay date 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Science and Rule in Bacon's Utopia: An Introduction to the Reading of the New Atlantis," in The American Political Science Review, Vol. LXX, No. 3, September, 1976, pp. 865-85.

[Here, Weinberger provides a comprehensive overview of the New Atlantis, examining the roots of modernity in order to provide a more complete understanding of the vision behind Bacon's seemingly anomalous, strictly scientific, approach toward the development of a modern utopia.]

Modern Utopian thought springs from the promise of modern science. It is the political expression of the claim of science to relieve man's estate and to enlarge the bounds of human empire. The...

(The entire section is 16764 words.)

J.C. Davis (essay date 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Sir Francis Bacon and the Ideal Society," in Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing 1516-1700, Cambridge University Press, 1981, pp. 105-37.

[In the following excerpt, Davis closely examines the structure and content of the New Atlantis with a view to clarifying "the scope and the crucial limitations of Bacon's approach to his ideal society."]

'Ambivalence' has been seen as one of the central characteristics of the social thought of Sir Francis Bacon. He is the 'preemptory royalist' who helped to provide an intellectual basis for 'the English Revolution'; the scientific modernist consigning all past philosophy to oblivion yet...

(The entire section is 12293 words.)

Charles Whitney (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Reading Bacon: The Pathos of Novelty," in Francis Bacon and Modernity, Yale University Press, 1986, pp. 173-204.

[In the excerpt below, Whitney analyzes several aspects of the society described in the New Atlantis, concluding that Bacon's description of the interaction between tradition and discovery within a utopia reflects issues of power and authority in both Bacon's time and the present.]

[F]reudian processes are pertinent to Bacon's New Atlantis, where modern consciousness is symbolized by the island of Bensalem, "a land unknown." The New Atlantis is different. Surprisingly, because it is a fable, this utopia's relationship to reality...

(The entire section is 3062 words.)

Charles C. Whitney (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Merchants of Light: Science As Colonization in the New Atlantis," in Francis Bacon's Legacy of Texts, edited by William A. Sessions, AMS Press, 1990, pp. 255-68.

[Here, Whitney describes how Bacon's narrow focus in the New Atlantis foreshadows the many benefits of inductive science, despite his failure explicitly to address contemporary social problems.]

Surely Robert C. Elliott's remark [in English Literary History 30, 1963] about the diversity of ideological response to Thomas More's land of Utopia could not find a counterpart with respect to Bacon's utopia in the New Atlantis: "Many claim it: Catholics and Protestants,...

(The entire section is 5061 words.)

Denise Albanese (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The New Atlantis and the Uses of Utopia," in ELH, Vol. 57, No. 3, Fall, 1990, pp. 503-28.

[In the following excerpt, Albanese describes several utopian aspects of the New Atlantis.]

In 1608 Bacon prepared a brief for King James to encourage the "plantation" of Ireland. In its course, he draws a comparison between its proposed structure of governance and that designed for Virginia, whose settlement had been fitfully pursued: "The second [proposition] is that your Majesty would make a correspondency between the commission there [in Ireland], and a council of plantation here [in London]. Wherein I warrant myself by the precedent of the like council of...

(The entire section is 8737 words.)

John Michael Archer (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Surveillance and Enlightenment: Toward Bacon's New Atlantis," in Sovereignty and Intelligence: Spying and Court Culture in the English Renaissance, Stanford University Press, 1993, pp. 121-51.

[In the following excerpt, Archer examines the aspect of political power in the New Atlantis, concluding that Bacon's "representation of the sciences of nature implies the unwritten methodology of the sciences of human control within the modern state."]

In the Essays, Bacon had been largely concerned with the constitution of what he calls "a man's self; in the New Atlantis, the production of a new self by means of a reconceptualization of the...

(The entire section is 4770 words.)