Popular Utopia Dystopia Books
Utopia and Dystopia: an overview of the most popular books
Utopian visions and concepts have been part of the Western and in a lesser known degree Eastern literary tradition ever since we can remember. Not to mention the eschatological visions of Judeo-Christian and Islamic tradition. It seems inherent to human nature to dream of a better life and to conceptualize these dreams in model societies, set either in a past dreamland or in the future. There are a few crucial characteristics that utopian literature exhibits: At heart utopian literature is social commentary, social criticism of what is and suggestion of what could be. The narrator of the story is an outsider to the utopian society who happens to find a secluded community or is in the need to found his own new community based on modern political, social, economic, or ethical principles. By extension, the very nature of utopia invites us to question the assumptions of our own society in the quest for a better world.
The book tells the story of Vasco de Quiroga who, using Thomas More's Utopia as his blueprint, forged a commune on Mexico City's outskirts. Not always seen as being within the utopian genre, but Plato's Republic was the first work of world literature to envisage an ideal state, and to lay down concrete parameters as to the activities of each and every class within society. Of course! Eponymous founder of the genre; brilliant mixture of satire, political idealism, and obfuscation of the author's own views. More's book has been seen by some as an attempt to justify colonisation of the Americas, by others as a dreary state of Catholic dogma and by his champions as a proto-communistic vision. The book's very indeterminacy is testament to its constant inventiveness. In the same idealistic strain as More's book, sharing the vision of religious harmony and of genuine communitarianism.
Chan Koonchung discusses the differences, and similarities, between the utopia and the dystopia – a Five Books interview.
tribe by sebastian junger chapter summaries
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