Gitta's Literary Escapades

Just another reader taking on (modern) classics, best-sellers, award-winners, non-fiction, and (guilty pleasure) chicklit armed with common sense, a brain and feminism.

Utopia by Thomas More

Utopia - Thomas More, Paul Turner

Utopia in the public domain and can be read online and downloaded to your e-reader or Kindle from Project Gutenberg for free.


This is the book that coined the term 'utopia', a word we now widely use to describe an ideal form of society. What many don't know, however, is that the word is a pun. For it is a compound of the Greek prefix 'ou' (no) with 'topos' (place). 'Outopos' is homophonous to 'Eutopos', with 'eu' (good). Utopia thus encompasses both the notion of "no place" and "good place". This has to some academic readings of Utopia as a satire.


But enough about etymology. What utopian ideas are explored by More?
People working in 4-hour shifts to maintain a 24-hour working day. People don't earn a salary, but work for society. There's no fashion, everyone wears the same. You get assigned an industry, but you can switch. You need a travel-pass to travel to other cities. Because there is no class or wealth divide, no capitalist need to own anything, the island has a lot of money lying around, which they give and lend to those countries that are not self-sustainable.


This sounds a lot like communism. But then again, communism is theoretically the ideal form of government, the fairest, the most egalitarian. But, we know that attempts at communism have not worked and though North-Korea tries hard to shut out every capitalist country, we know the country is so poor it cannot take care of its people, unfortunately. Back in the day, however, these ideas were fairly revolutionary (satirical or not). I, for one, am very great I do not live in that utopian island described in Utopia; It sounds boring.



Description & Where to Buy


First published: 1516 (1551 in English)
Original title:

Libellus vere aureus, nec minus

salutaris quam festivus, de optimo

rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia

Author: Thomas More
Edition: Paperback (Penguin Classics, 2003)
Pages: 135
Read: 13 - 16 February 2013
ISBN: 0141442328, 9780141442327
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