THE UNIVERSITRY OF LATVIA
Faculty of Foreign Languages
The Second Book
The "dark" Middle Ages were followed by a time known in art and
literature as the Renaissance. The word "renaissance" means "rebirth" in
French and was used to denote a phase in the cultural development of
Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Thomas More, the first English humanist of the Renaissance, was born in
London in 1478. Thomas More wrote in English and in Latin. The
humanists of al1 European countries communicated in the Latin language,
and their best works were written in Latin.
His style is simple, colloquial end has an unaffected ease. The work by
which he is best remembered today is "Utopia" which was written in Latin
in the year 1516. It has now been translated into all European
"Utopia" (which in Greek means "nowhere") is the name of a non-existent
island. This work is divided into two books.
In the first, the author gives a profound and truthful picture of the
people's sufferings and points out the socia1 evils existing, in England
at the time. In the second book more presents his ideal of what the
future society should be like.
“The word "utopia" has become a byword and is used in Modern English to
denote an unattainable ideal, usually in social and political matters.
But the writer H.G. Wells, who wrote an introduction to the latest
edition, said that the use of the word "utopia" was far from More's
essentia1 quality, whose mind abounded in sound, practical ideas. The
book is in reality a very unimaginative work.” (Harry Levin, “The Myth
of the Golden Age in the Renaissance.” 1969.)
Thomas More's "Utopia" was the first literary work in which the ideas of
Communism appeared. It was highly esteemed by all the humanists of
Europe in More's time and again grew very popular with the socialists of
the 19th century. After More, a tendency began in literature to write
fantastic novels on social reforms, and many such works appeared in
The historical Thomas More, the author of Utopia, was an extraordinarily
complicated man who tied up all the threads of his life in his heroic
death. The real man is to me much more interesting than the plastic
creation adored by his most fervent admirers. The Utopia is the sort of
complicated book that we should expect from so complicated a man.
It is heavy with irony. Irony is the recognition of the distance between
what we say and what we mean. But then irony was the experience of life
in the Sixteenth Century - reason enough for Shakespeare to make it
perhaps his most important trope while the century was drawing to a
close. Everywhere in church, government, society, and even scholarship
profession and practice stood separated by an abyss.
In Utopia three characters converse and reports of other conversations
enter the story. Thomas More appears as himself. Raphael Hythlodaeus or
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