1. Utopia is, arguably, the very first completely fictional world, though it has precedents in Plato’s Republic (in which Plato presents Socrates having a dialogue with others about the ideal way to organize human society in a hypothetical republic), Augustine’s City of God (an extended meditation on what heaven must be like), and Dante’s Divine Comedy, from which we’ve read one part, the Inferno (a sort of travel narrative in which Dante explores Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise). Thomas More’s Utopia opened up an entirely new genre, from which the modern era gets virtually all fantasy and science fiction literature, the invented world. What is the value to More of creating an imaginary world? What does this genre allow him to consider that other genres of writing might not? Why would such a genre be especially valuable for a writer or More’s era?
2. Thomas More’s Utopia is presented as a framed tale told not by More himself but related to him by a somewhat mysterious traveller, Hythloday. More names himself in the narrative, and at the end of Hythloday’s account of Utopia – in the second to the last sentence – he says that he “cannot agree with everything [Hythloday] said,” but that there are many features of Utopia he “would wish rather than expect to see” (269). More also leaves a lot of ambiguities about his own investment in the story he’s telling with the Greek titles and names he applies to many of the features of Utopia, suggesting that there is an element of nonsense in everything that’s being described.
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