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Classic Essay - Book Report/Review Example

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The following analysis is a presentation of some of the techniques employed by Sir Thomas More in his work titled Utopia. First published in 1516 [More, 1515: 4], this will be approached with a number of themes and concepts at the foreground. First, this paper is approaching the work as though it is a serious commentary on the politics and social values of his era…
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Classic Book Essay
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Download file to see previous pages In other words, his technique will be presented as a form of self censorship. This paper will begin with a brief overview of some of the central themes of the work, proceed to a discussion of the historical context of More’s life, and finally, the focus will turn toward understanding how his techniques are employed for the goal of masking a tirade against the authorities of his era. As is generally known, utopia derives from the word ‘u-topos’, which literally means no-place or “nowhere” [More, 1515: 4] – from the classical Greek. The word ‘topos’ means place, and the ‘u’ is a negative prefix, like apolitical or un-American, etc.. It is difficult therefore to take this work too seriously at the very outset. It is easier perhaps to write this work off as a work of fictive imagination than a work which stands as either a serious social and political commentary (e.g. Book i.), or as a serious social and political vision on how the world ought to be (e.g. Book ii.). With respect to the question of historical context on the one hand, and on the other hand, the techniques employed by More as a form of self censorship, it is important to stress at the most general level that this is a work which is written in Latin. The work in question was first published in 1516 in Latin, and then translated into the vernacular in 1551 by an individual named Ralph Robinson [Campbell, 1973: 25]. This is stressed because it has important political implications which relate to the historical setting or context of More’s times. As is generally known, More is aligned with the humanists of the time of the Renaissance [Ames, 1949: 111-113]. Generally speaking, this was an intellectual movement which was beginning to challenge both the religious and political authority of the church, and moreover, this was a challenge that would lead Europe into an entire crisis with respect to both the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. At least among the social class that was literate, it can not be over-estimated the extent to which humanism is an important backdrop to what can be considered to be among the most divisive conflicts of modern Europe. Until publications were translated into vernacular languages, and in turn, disseminated to a public, it was the case that only the elite’s of society could read, and moreover, read in one of the languages afforded to the privileged, namely, Latin or classical Greek. More was well aware of the subversive nature of his literary masterpiece, and in a letter indicating why it is that he chose to not translate this work, he writes: “ . . . since men by their own default misconstrue and take harm from the very scripture of God” [Campbell, 1973: 24]. Thus, More was well aware in the historical setting of this work, that the object of his criticism were also the power institutions to fear as well, namely, the authority of the Church and the authority of the essentially “feudal monarchy” or aristocracy in Britain during his lifetime [Ames, 1949: 81ff.]. Thus, given that the work is written in Latin, it is similarly limited to the very elite’s of society itself. As such, censorship or self-censorship in this sense can be said to be one of the dominating elements or social facts which can be said to influence or shape his actual literary style in the work in question. In this sense, it might be argued counter to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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