I am thoroughly pleased that we are exploring the ideas of Utopia and Dystopia in class (I hope this isn't to the detriment of the Goth genre proposal). Inevitably, we were shown the work of Tudor courtier Thomas More - Utopia
More wrote Utopia in 1516, just before the outbreak of the Reformation, but certainly during the time when the stresses and corruption that led to the Reformation were swelling toward conflict. Utopia, originally written in Latin and later translated into many languages, depicts what its narrator, Raphael Hythloday, claimed to be an ideal human society, the island of Utopia. The book was a huge success, vaulting More into renown, and not only founding a literary tradition but lending that tradition its name, the utopian novel. This tradition involves the attempt by an author to describe a perfect, ideal human society. However, the tradition founded by Utopia is so powerful that it seems to have obscured Utopia itself. Few critics would today agree that More considered the island of Utopia to be a perfect society. Through the book's fictional frame and the dialogue of its characters, the book gains a certain ambiguity about the convictions of Utopia's standard bearer, Raphael Hythloday. It is clear that the author does not necessarily support the ideas presented by Hythloday. However, while More might not have envisioned Utopia as a perfect society, it is inarguable that he forwarded utilitarian, rational Utopia as a criticism of the European world he saw around him. It is vital, then, to understand that the book is a response to a specific historical time.
More's map looks like a brain, or a womb. It has mountainous regions that span around the back, making an invasion difficult and a complex water system, which would make poisoning of water supplies by enemies an equally impossible task.
Invariably, we have looked at my favourite works - Under cut for photo size
I voluntarily revisited this book in December for my Sense of Place Assignment) where society is ruled by the oppressive party INGSOC, who spies through the icon of Big Brother. I first read this as a teenager and has been a favourite of mine ever since.
I read this only recently and I found that it was a closely run contender to Orwell's 1984 - in this book, people are part of segregated pecking orders, from the athletic genius, the Alphas, right down to the rock-bashing Elipsons. They indulge in community sex as a duty to society, with the catchphrase 'we all belong to each other'; babies are born in bottles and they all take SOMA to enjoy the 'trip'
In this book, infertile couples import handmaids to be impregnated and all three participate in the conception, but it is far from an erotically charged situation. Less Fifty Shades (or 'Keys in the bowl, darling'); more of an impersonal 'hump, bump and dump.'
I have always been fascinated with Utopia/Dystopia ever since I watched Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner as a child. Many, many sci fi/fantasies are built on Uto/Dysto societies and it does explore the dark side of what people do when they have power over others on a massive scale. Lord of the Flies/Rings are prime examples as well as Terry Pratchett's Discworld Series. If I have a chance to do this as part of a dissertation, I will be cock-a-hoop.