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Five reasons why you should read More’s ‘Utopia’

Thomas More

There are plenty of reasons why one would shy away from reading a philosophical work like Utopia. One might find it to be difficult and time consuming, the topics might be irrelevant in today’s world and of course Wikipedia satisfies our main curiosity. So why would one want to read a 16th century trail of thought written up by some guy named Thomas whats his name?

First of all that guy is actually pretty interesting, not only because king Henry XIII chopped his head off on a charge of high treason, but more so because Thomas More took the risk to be critical again and again knowing this could cost him his life.

Secondly, Utopia is probably one of the easiest reads as far as philosophical texts go. Even if one does not understand the multiple layers of meaning the story will tickle you imagination.

Third it is so short you will have read the whole text in a couple of hours.

Satire or a critique of society Utopia paints some entertaining pictures. Imagine using foreign criminals as slaves and attending a viewing of your naked fiancé to check for any abnormalities before tying the knot.

Lastly, Utopia is as relevant today as it was in 1516 when the book was first published. Why? Because when reading about More’s society of equality and uniformity one weighs the features of today’s society on almost all topic he presents, for he addresses not only matters of state, politics, law, war and ethics but also love, marriage, education, bodily and mental enjoyments and so on.  By presenting a strong alternative More teaches us to be critical of what we view, experience and deem to be normal.

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If you are curious about Utopia, check out your local second hand book store, for they will most probably be able to provide you with a cheap copy. If you want to go even cheaper a good search on the internet will produce good results.

Chios Classics presents a readably biography called ‘the life of Thomas More’ written by William Roper.
And renowned biographer Peter Ackroyd also wrote a (very readable) book called: ‘the life of Thomas More’.

If you are more comfortable with a bit of light reading Jane Plaidy’s – The King’s Confidant: the story of the Daughter of Sir Thomas More is worth a read. Especially for Plaidy historical research is impeccable and contrary to most literary works focussing on the sixteenth century this story discusses ordinary lives of ordinary people.

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