Utopianism Criticism: Overviews: Utopian Literature - Essay

Joel Nydahl (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Early Fictional Futures: Utopia, 1798-1864,” in America as Utopia, edited by Kenneth M. Roemer, Burt Franklin & Company, 1981, pp. 254-91.

[In the following essay, Nydahl surveys the utopian vision expressed in American fictional works of the late eighteenth century.]

The earliest utopian visions in and of America were of millennial expectations fulfilled: Columbus saw on the shores of the New World a stage upon which would be acted out Saint John's great prophetic drama; John Winthrop's “Citty on a Hill” was to be a society of godly men waiting for, and working to bring about, the final apocalyptic defeat of the forces of Satan; John Eliot's...

(The entire section is 13073 words.)

Simon Dentith (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Imagination and Inversion in Nineteenth-Century Utopian Writing,” in Anticipations: Essays on Early Science Fiction and Its Precursors, edited by David Seed, Syracuse University Press, 1995, pp. 137-52.

[In the following essay, Dentith studies the ways in which nineteenth-century utopian literature employs and transcends the trope of inversion.]

In Chapter 17 of Adam Bede, ‘In which the story pauses a little’, George Eliot contrasts the ‘wonderful facility for drawing a griffin’ with the difficulty faced in trying to draw a real lion. George Eliot was a writer who was generally anti-utopian in spirit, for whom science meant not so much the...

(The entire section is 6441 words.)