Major Themes in Renaissance Utopias

Ala Eddin Sadeq, Ibrahim Shalabi, Shireen Hikmat Alkurdi


Utopian themes reflect the spirit of the age which produces them, and echo its problems, ailments and concerns. Ages of helplessness and despair produce myths of wishful thinking and escape, such as, the myths of the Golden Age and the Earthly Paradise. An age of social instability and widespread discontent and frustration begets literary social utopias of social stability and universal contentment, such as, More's Utopia and other Renaissance utopias. An age of steady progress and prosperity inspires utopias of ambitious hopes of perfection as H.G. Well's Men like Gods and William Morris' News from Nowhere. The twentieth century in which change has madly pace and the necessary adjustments have a frustrating slow pace has created either utopias of men like gods or dystopia of men like beasts, such as, Zamyatin's We, and Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four.
This paper intends to deal with the major themes of the Renaissance utopias which are often called social utopias, such as Thomas More's Utopia (1516), Francois Rabelais' Abbev of Theleme (1534), Thomas Campanella's The City of the Sum (1613-14), Valentine Andrea's Christianopolis (1619), and Francis Bacon's New Atlantis (1623).

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