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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 110 | volume  | October-November, 2016



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 110October-November, 2016
Essays

500 Years since Thomas More’s Utopia: Transformation of Utopian Ideas

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Kalina Maleska

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500 Years since Thomas More’s Utopia: Transformation of Utopian Ideas

    In 1516, Thomas More’s book entitled Utopia appeared. Although there were previously works that discussed the idea of creating a perfect society, of which Plato’s The Republic is probably the most famous example, the appearance of the utopian genre is connected with More, whose book actually gave the genre its name. One of the frequent questions that has been asked in the last two decades in regard to utopias is: have we come to the end of utopia? This question refers not only to the literary genre known under this name, but also to the political and social engagement of the intellectuals to strive for a better society. Both aspects are connected with ideas that dominated near the end of the last century, and whose best known example, or at least one of the best known, is Francis Fukuyama with his thesis about “the end of history” in his paper “The End of History?” (1989). Explaining his thesis, Fukuyama writes that we are facing “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government” (Fukuyama 1989: 4). If the liberal democracy is considered to be the achieved end point in the efforts for creating a perfect society, then, as a logical consequence, the utopian visions, whether in philosophy or in literature, would end. This essay, however, through a brief historical overview, will attempt to show that this is not the case, and that the utopian genre is flexible and adjustable to historical changes. The contemporary utopian works point to a thesis that is precisely opposite to Fukuyama’s – namely, that the end of history has not yet arrived nor does it seem to be near, as there is still a lot of space for transformations and improvement of the human societies in the world and in the literary works.
    More wrote Utopia in order to right the wrongs (Carey, 1999: 38) of the society in which he lived – the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century – which is obvious from the structure of the book; namely, the first part describes in details the poverty and difficult life in Europe in that time, whereas the second one is a description of a much more ideal community in which healthy and happy people live. Although there are numerous discussions






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