I've studied quite a lot of Early Tudor history and I think this helped me a great deal when reading this book as there were so many references to things that were important during the time, that it seemed like there was a lot I would have missed, or not understood the significance of (for example the lengthy discourse about Sheep!) had I not had a good background. Saying that I did feel like I had been let down by not knowing as much about Ancient Greece and Rome and will be glad to get the opinions of those who know more to see just how much he was influenced by those writers, as I suspect, knowing how fond More was of his Greek, that it was quite a lot!!!
For the most part I was struck by how ghastly the "utopian" society was. A lot of this was because of the time it was written which was very Christian, sexist and racist. It made me giggle that the perfectly egalitarian society was actually based on slave labour, and all the people were able to live this life because of their slaves, and not because they'd actually gotten a perfect communist society. The part I liked the most was at the end when he was talking about how people who didn't contribute, like the gentry and bankers should not be given wealth while those who laboured hard couldn't afford to feed their children. I felt like this was the part I could agree with most. However, the actual way the country was run kinda terrified me.
It was interesting to see so many parts that reminded me of China. How the Utopians had the Confucian relationships, "were the oldest man of every family, as has been already said, is its governor; wives serve their husbands, and children their parents, and always the younger serves the elder". Also the communal dining reminded me so much of the Great Leap that I also found it amusing.
In addition to the slavery I thought it was quite scary to see who Imperialism was considered perfectly justified within Utopia.
"But if the natives refuse to conform themselves to their laws they drive
them out of those bounds which they mark out for themselves, and use
force if they resist, for they account it a very just cause of war for a
nation to hinder others from possessing a part of that soil of which they
make no use, but which is suffered to lie idle and uncultivated, since
every man has, by the law of nature, a right to such a waste portion of
the earth as is necessary for his subsistence"
So it was considered perfectly just to war on people whose land you had taken if they had a problem with you taking it!!!
Quite an interesting read, even if there wasn't much I agreed with. I disliked how men were so dominant over the women, husbands being able to punish their wives etc! But I feel like it added to my cultural understanding, and I am glad to have finally gotten around to reading it.Continua...