The Making of a Perfect World, Part 1: Utopia

Utopia by Sir Thomas More

“The source of happiness is much disputed, among all people, in Utopia.” – Thomas More
 
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin


One of my favorite genres of literature is dystopia, but before I talk about dystopian fiction, let’s take a look at its predecessor. Most people are familiar with the term utopia, which originated with the fictional work by Thomas More published in 1516. Utopia was written shortly after the discovery of the New World, an event which stimulated the human imagination and brought with it a sense of new possibilities. It can be considered the first English science fiction, as the story describes an unreal place (located in the New World) which could be real (at least hypothetically) in the future. More’s imaginative society represents an ideal one in which many social problems are controlled or eliminated, such as war, crime and poverty, yet its plans for social improvement are in many ways impractical. Ironically, and significantly, the word utopia can literally be translated as “good place” or “no place,” suggesting that the author acknowledged that there is no such thing as a perfect society. Continue reading “The Making of a Perfect World, Part 1: Utopia”