HISTORY OF UTOPIAN LITERATURE
Persistent Thematic Issues:
utopia v. eutopia v. dystopia (general v. good v. bad)
authoritarian v. anti-authoritarian (individual and/v. society)
technological v. anti-technological
extrapolative v. reversing
|Ancient World||Economy based on slaves|
|Christian Renaissance||Economy based on regularized work|
|Industrial Revolution||Economy based on machines (or their rejection)|
|Post-Industrial Revolution||Economy based on humans as machines (and vice versa)|
Plato, Republic (c. 380 BCE): Guardians/philosopher-kings; based on the "necessary lie"
Aristophanes, "The Clouds," "The Birds" (c. 375 BCE): satire of Plato
Plutarch, Life of Lycurgus (c. 70): Sparta
Thomas More, Utopia (1516): gold for mercenaries and chamber pots
François Rabelais, "The Abbey of Thélème," Gargantua (1534): "Do what thou wilt"
Friar Tommaso Campanella, The City of the Sun (1602): Holy Universal Republic–first to abolish slavery and esteem work, yet still with rigid laws and the death penalty
Valentin Andreae, Christianopolis (1619): medieval cities + Calvin's quartered and moral Geneva
Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis (1627): House of Salomon for scientists in a 1900-year line from Solamona (n.b.: Novum Organum, 1620)
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651): no "natural rights"; absolute monarchy
Gerard Winstanley, The Law of Freedom (1652): Diggers' Movement of St. George's Hill experiment in Surrey (see Ruskin's Guild of St. George)
Gabriel de Foigny, A New Discovery of Terra Incognita Australis (1676): rejected by Geneva's Venerable Company because no Original Sin
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1726): 1-Lilliput; 2-Brobdingnag; 3-Laputa (floating city) and others; 4-Houyhnhnms (v. Yahoos)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755): civilization enslaves us to laws preserving private property; Émile (1762): education by placing child in "natural" environment; The Social Contract (1762): justice through legal equality for all, more equitable distribution of wealth, and government performs the will of the people and exists and governs by their "consent"
Samuel Johnson, Rasselas (1759): Rasselas of Abyssinia leaves Happy Valley with Imlac and sister Nekayah only to return
Denis Diderot, Supplement to Bougainville's Voyage (1796): Rousseauvian Tahiti
Charles Fourier (1772-1837): communist Garden Cities, sexually free, run by phalansteries of 1,800; see Robert Owen; see Brook Farm (1841-1847; nr W Roxbury, Mass.) and Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance, 1852
Robert Owen (1771-1858): behaviorist (e.g., variably colored monitors) communal utopias in New Lanark Mills, Scotland (1799), and New Harmony, Indiana (1821); A New View of Society (1813); The Revolution in Mind and Practice of the Human Race (1849)
Louis Blanc, The Organisation of Work (1839): state-aided and capitalized communes tried after Revolution of 1848 but failed
Étienne Cabet, A Voyage to Icaria (1839): community of goods, time-table laws, and "elastic clothes" (Nauvoo, Illinois)
Karl Marx, Das Kapital (1867 ff.): "From everyone according to his faculties, to everyone according to his needs." "The locomotive of history."
Lord Lytton, The Coming Race (1871): "vril staff" (cf. A. E. van Vogt)
Samuel Butler, Erewhon (1872): satiric hyperborean utopia with the sick jailed, musical banks, and machine evolution
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (1888): State Capitalism & Industrial Army
William Morris, News from Nowhere (1890): free, rich society of individuals who have no power over each other; medievalist reply to Bellamy
Theodor Hertzka, Freeland: A Social Anticipation (1891): life-stock of money to age 25
Eugene Richter, Pictures of a Socialist Future (1893): liberal attack on Bellamyism turned into what we would call Nazism
H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia (1905): Socialism and Individualism under the "voluntary nobility" of the Samurai & central file
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915): isolated, feminist, parthenogenetic utopia highlighting work, safety, and cooperation
Karel Capek, R.U.R. (1920): the humanoids (robots [androids]) turn and kill their masters
Eugene Zamiatin, We (1920): Sovietism in extremis: the United State allows privacy only during "sexual hours" & death is the penalty for non-conformity
H. G. Wells, Men Like Gods (1923): enlightened flowering of "natural man" without laws, government, or clothing
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932): bottled babies, hypnopaedia, soma, fun sex, but no love; Savage can't take it
Ayn Rand, Anthem (1938, UK; 1946, USA): Equality 7-2521 finds knowledge and runs to woods w/ Golden One to find EGO!
A. E. van Vogt, "The Weapon Shop" (1942; The Weapon Shops of Isher, 1951): good guys arm vigilantes & use central file (n.b.: Slan, 1940: peaceful, persecuted telepathic mutants)
George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945): some animals are more equal than others, like Napoleon
B. F. Skinner, Walden Two (1948): operant conditioning for perfect adaptation to communal life (see Twin Oaks [nr Louisa VA], founded 1967)
George Orwell, 1984 (1949): Newspeak, doublethink, & Winston Smith's fear of Big Brother and rats
David Karp, One (1953): the Benevolent State, non-technological (w/ files)
Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End (1953): The Second Coming
Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human (1953): Homo Gestalt
William Hjortsberg, Gray Matters (1971): cerebromorphs earn awareness rights until they get a perfect sexless body in Eden
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974): "for the partner" on anarchist Anarres v. monopoly capitalist Urras
Thomas M. Disch, 334 (1974): In a monolith future NYC apartment building, people strive to get beyond the MODICUM; fragmented narrative structure
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time (1976): Consuelo, a poor Chicana, either time travels to or hallucinates a bucolic ("forward into the past") Mattapoisett
James Gurney, Dinotopia (1992): lavishly illustrated father and son 1860s "journal" tells of Lost World paradise of human/dinosaur society in which "Dolphinbacks" are reborn (cf. film of Jurassic Park, 1993)
Persistent Philosophical Questions:
Does humanity change society or society change humanity?
Are humans innately good or innately evil?
Is happiness a presence (e.g., material) or an absence (e.g., lack of restraint)?
Marie Louise Berneri, Journey Through Utopia (London, 1950)
Frank E. Manuel & Fritzie P. Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1979)
Darko Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (New Haven CT, 1979)
© 1975-2001 Eric
1975-2001 Eric S. Rabkin