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Utopia, Utopia's Neighbors, Utopia, and Europe
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Winter, 1995), pp. 843-856
Published by: Sixteenth Century Journal
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2543790
Page Count: 14
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The interactions of the Utopians with their neighbors provide a model for the impact More intended Utopia to have on Europe. While the Utopians have numerous involvements with the countries around them, they never try to impose their own values or institutions on other societies. Indeed, sometimes they intervene to maintain the non-Utopian status quo. By analogy, readers of Utopia are being urged to take an active political role in Europe, not as revolutionaries, but as guardians and honest administrators of the already established system. Hythloday argues against the value of such service, and the inconclusive nature of the debate in book 1 of Utopia indicates the historical Thomas More's divided mind. But More's eventual decision to become a councilor to Henry VIII is foreshadowed in Hythloday's descriptions of the Utopians' interactions with non-Utopian societies, which subvert his arguments in book 1.
The Sixteenth Century Journal © 1995 Sixteenth Century Journal