Lion of the Blogosphere

Quincentenary anniversary of Utopia by Thomas More

A book I never read, but the ebook is available for free from Amazon, so I just ordered it to be delivered to the Kindle apps on my Apple devices. Hopefully there is some wisdom to be gained from reading about the ideal society as imagined in 1516, devoid of any modern influences like Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, or Barrack Obama.

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Well, the problem here is that the free version of Utopia is a very hard to read 1901 translation.

There’s what looks like a dumbed-down translation by Paul Turner, but it doesn’t seem to be available as an e-book at all. I’d have to order the dead-tree book from Amazon for $8.17 and wait for it to arrive in the mail, by which time I probably won’t feel like reading it. What a bummer.

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I found the ebook of the Turner translation at the Kobo store, but that’s a lot of money to spend on a book when there are already so many unread books to read for free.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 6, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Posted in Books

19 Responses

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  1. I acquired my brother’s old kindle. I still can’t figure out how to use it. Kudos for figuring yours out.

    Raoul Duke

    August 6, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    • If you’d like a program to manage your books and download them to an ereader then I recommend Calibre. The interface looks a little busy with stuff you’ll probably never use. But the basic functionality is fairly simple and straightforward.


      August 7, 2016 at 5:48 am

  2. Lots of terrific free books on Amazon.


    August 6, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    • Yeah. There are also a lot that are not “free” but are basically free, for a dollar or so.

      Samson J.

      August 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm

  3. I’ll sponsor you for a hard copy of your choice with next day delivery if you commit yourself to writing a review.


    August 7, 2016 at 12:07 am

    • I would too! See, Lion, we’re encouraging you to do book reviews, travel writing, etc. There’s a whole world of entrepreneurship waiting for you.

      Samson J.

      August 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm

  4. Project Gutenberg has a free transcribed copy that seems pretty readable.

    It’s a quick read.

    One gets the impression that Marx cribbed more than a few notes from its pages. Doubtful Rand ever did.


    August 7, 2016 at 2:11 am

  5. It must be 20 years since I read that book, but I remember being pretty appalled at how totalitarian his perfect society was. It may be pre-Marxist, but it seemed to belong in that line of thought. Everything is geared towards equality and freeing people of a desire to own things. But the cure comes across as worse than than the disease in my opinion.

    Perhaps we underestimate the extent to which those who lived in the middle ages already had the mindsets of people in totalitarian societies. They did after all have absolutist monarchs and Churches. Christopher Hitchens has made the point that religious people like to talk about the ‘atheism’ of the Communists in Russia, but in reality their job was made easier because they inherited people used to being brutalised by thje Tsars and the Orthodox church, so they merely swapped one religion for another. I’d put this book into the same mental bracket.

    prolier than thou

    August 7, 2016 at 2:17 am

    • “…but in reality their job was made easier because they inherited people used to being brutalised by thje Tsars and the Orthodox church, so they merely swapped one religion for another.”

      They swapped the cap badges. There is a case to be made that the Communists did the best they could with the human raw materials they had to hand.


      August 7, 2016 at 10:49 am

  6. Two words: Public library.

    Tiomoid of Angle

    August 7, 2016 at 6:25 am

    • “Two words: Public library”

      I bought mine in a second hand bookshop, so it had that lovely ‘old book’ smell. Those kind of bookshops are a thing of the past now. The kind where you could go to any small town in England and if you were after quite a famous classic there’d always be pretty good odds of being able to find a yellowed, dog-eared copy in a second-hand bookshop. Often there’d be a name and a year neatly written in ink by the schoolchild or student who had initially owned it. And the price on the cover would be in shillings and pence.

      Even old books were better years ago. And bookshops. Everything is shit now. Literally every single thing.

      prolier than thou

      August 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

  7. More’s Utopia is absolute egalitarianism, dictatorship and slavery; his Utopia is more hellish than you can possibly imagine before you read it. I think you’ll be surprised.


    August 7, 2016 at 6:46 am

    • Utopias are pretty hellish because they tell you how to live your life. Man has to be able to do his own thing to be happy. Freedom is the best thing about America – the freeist country in the world.


      August 7, 2016 at 9:34 am

  8. Kelly Sander

    August 7, 2016 at 9:23 am

  9. Prediction- HS wont like the book because More is a Saint and a martyr to his principle. He will like the ideal of what can be accomplished in a homogeneous, ideological coherent society without “vibrancy”. He will come away with a feeling of melancholy that none of this can be accomplished and a society without inherent status isnt worth living in.

    Lion of the Turambar

    August 7, 2016 at 9:23 am

  10. Was Huxley’s “Brave New World” a Utopia? It seems to be about the best that you can get, with everyone loving their job because they are genetically grown to do so. (Of course, Huxley’s didn’t foresee a world in which robots will be doing most of the work.) I think Progressives would like to get to the society described in that book.


    August 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    • I think Brave New World was intended as dystopian rather than utopian, although it’s not as clear cut as 1984. But there is the same kind of crushing, intrusive control as in 1984, albeit expressed in a more nuanced way. There’s the total break with all tradition and history, the abolition of the family, the destruction of all intimacy and privacy through the enforced promotion of promiscuity (a theme often missed but very relevant in our world) there’s the lack of personal choice and freedoms, the inability to live outside the system, the control of the masses through medication (yes, I know this list sounds like the modern West). All in all these things are pretty dystopian, but Huxley is realistic enough to acknowledge such a world would still have its comforts. After all, a Victorian Christian would be appalled if he were to time travel to modern Europe…but he’d still probably be tempted to stay for the healthcare, plane rides to other continents, skype and internet.

      prolier than thou

      August 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm

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