News from Nowhere is indeed interesting, if not a bit dry sometimes. Read in the context of utopian literature, News is very idiosyncratic (with the emphasis on the importance of art&craft, beauty and architecture) and pretty pioneering (foreshadowing the later ecotopia, or green utopia, of the 1970's onward).
Morris usually voices out satirical (and, in a way funny) remarks about his times via the inhabitants in Nowhere who frown at and lays bare the absurdities of lives in 19C. I find this part more interesting than his description of the pastoral utopia. Such satirical accounts serve to "make it strange"(chapter 16) the time he lives in--yes, this is way before Brecht (defamiliarization) and Darko Suvin (cognitive estrangement). It shows the pioneering aspect of News from Nowhere. In fact, it helps me make sense of lots of other things afterwards (among other things, the Shire in The Hobbit, which I happened to watch yesterday. Yeah, Victorian pictorialism and medievalism are among the important sources of fantasy lit).
My reading is assisted by the librivox recordings by Elizabeth Klett. You may want to try it if you find it hard to proceed sometimes: http://librivox.org/news-from-nowhere-by-william-morris/...Continua
I am reading incredibly slowly at the moment. The first half of this book went very quickly but then it took another week to finish. It was more of an essay on the ideal state of the world than a novel but it was interesting nonetheless. Everything so focused on the arts and crafs movement, everyone a skilled artisan and everything made to be lovely. Ironically I thought the funniest part of the book was when the were discussing the differences between the sexes and the old man said how they were now completely equal, except of course there were some things that women particularly enjoyed because they suited thier nature, these things being serving men, keeping a home and having children!
It was odd to read about a communist utopia written before their had been any communist revolutions. I felt William Morris had rather a simplistic view of human nature and desires. But they did make for an interesting book. I think this is actually a book that I'm interested in going and reading some criticism about as I'd like to know how other people interpreted it....Continua