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Utopia, with the subtitle On the best state of a republic and on the new island of Utopia (Latin: Dē optimō reī pūblicae statű dēque novā īnsulā Ūtopiā), is a 1516 book by Sir Saint Thomas More. The book, written in Latin, is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs. The name of the island is derived from the Greek words ou (οὐ), "not", and tópos (τόπος), "place", with the suffix -ía (-ία) that is typical of toponyms; hence Outopía (Οὐτοπία; Latinized as Ūtopia, with stress on the second syllable), "no-place land, non-existing place."

It should be noticed that, in English, Utopia is pronounced exactly as Eutopia (the latter word, in Greek Εὐτοπία [Eutopía], meaning "good place," contains the prefix εὐ- [eu-], "good", with which the οὐ of Utopia has come to be confused in English pronunciation).[1] This something that More himself addresses in an addendum to his book Wherfore not Utopie, but rather rightely my name is Eutopie, a place of felicitie.[2]

One interpretation holds that this suggests that while Utopia might be some sort of perfected society, it is ultimately unreachable.

Despite modern connotations of the word "utopia," it is widely accepted that the society More describes in this work was not actually his own "perfect society." Rather he wished to use the contrast between the imaginary land's unusual political ideas and the chaotic politics of his own day as a platform from which to discuss social issues in Europe.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat May 2nd, 2009 at 11:04:28 PM EST
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