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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected gem
Having recently re-read Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", I was interested to see that the ideas contained in the book had been influenced by the political ideas and philosophy contained in both "News from Nowhere" (William Morris) and "Looking Backward" (Edward Bellamy). I decided to buy both.

Currently (October 2009) I have not read Bellamy - but have read...
Published on 28 Oct 2009 by J. B. Williams

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars somewhat disappointing
Morris's work starts off promisingly with a contemporary (1890) man transported to an idyllic, initially seemingly Medieval London, which later turns out to be a pastoral, communist (in the original sense) world of sometime in the twenty first century or perhaps later. But this is not really a novel about time travel or even an alternate reality in the usual SF sense of...
Published on 6 April 2011 by John Hopper


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A neglected gem, 28 Oct 2009
By 
J. B. Williams (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Having recently re-read Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", I was interested to see that the ideas contained in the book had been influenced by the political ideas and philosophy contained in both "News from Nowhere" (William Morris) and "Looking Backward" (Edward Bellamy). I decided to buy both.

Currently (October 2009) I have not read Bellamy - but have read Morris with a dgree of pleasure and satisfaction I rarely gain from political tracts.

The writing and story is straightforward yet contains profound insights into the workings of a brutal capitalist economy and the ways in which a more gentle, human centred economic system could exist.

This new world contains wit, romance and friendship but is not sentimentalised; problems exist and the issues are how to solve them for the benefit of all.

It was a delightful and politically stirring book. Read it and have some faith restored! Overall - as important as Huxley's work
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best utopian books, 30 April 2009
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Marco Colombo (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I've come across 'News from nowhere' in a phase during which I was reading plenty of utopian books (Gulliver's Travels, 1984, Brave New World, We, Darkness at Noon), and I found this to be one of the best.

During a boat trip on the Thames from Hammersmith to Oxford, Morris realises to be living in a utopic communist society, and he's led to investigate it and understand it. The book is certainly thought provoking.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars William Morris' futuristic utopia based on Medieval ideals, 30 Oct 2003
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Paperback)
William Morris is best known for his involvement in the Pre-Raphaelite movement and as one of the greatest European pattern-designers since the Middle Ages. He was also a campaigning socialist, a pioneering environmentalist, and a lyric poet, as well as a journalist and a storyteller with a penchant for making his dreams reality. Much of his prose writings focused on the theme of an earthly paradise, which is the subject of "News from Nowhere." First published in serial form in the "Commonweal" in 1890, this novella offers Morris' ideal future for England as a pastoral society born out of revolution. A true utopian vision of the future, it is largely forgotten in comparison to the dramatic dystopian works such as "Brave New World" and "Nineteen Eighty-Four," which have dominated the interest of scholars and students.
"News from Nowhere, or, An Epoch of Rest: being some chapters from a Utopian Romance" tells the story of a young Englishman who goes to bed one night in his London home and wakes up in a strange world where his "neighbors" talk about the year 2001 as thought it had happened in the past. Morris depicts an England where radical changes have altered not only the way things look but the key elements of the society, which is now structured according to the ideals of communism. This means a world without money or private property but with a perfect equality between all citizens who share in the daily labor.
In addition to these common features of a utopian society, Morris argues that labor would be regarded as a pleasure rather than as a chore. This is possible because in the ideal world Morris envisions every citizen does the job that matches their skills and is able to take pride in the fruit of their labors. Consequently, for Morris "work" is more akin to "art," specifically in terms of the Medieval idea of individual workmanship, where even the production of a dish was celebrated as an art form. Towards this end Morris creates a future where humanity has eliminated all but the simplest forms of machinery, forcing a reliance on the individual skins of the workman. Even the city of London becomes a collection of villages in this post-industrial utopia.
At one point an old man who had studied the revolution explains what happened, which is where "News from Nowhere" gives Morris the opportunity to comment on the injustices he perceives in his own society. The revolution came when the conflict between workers and the state became violent. Unions had banded together in larger organizations and when the establishment ordered unarmed protesters to be gunned down and the workers decided to fight back. In many ways the story Morris tells through his character clearly predicts some of the conflicts that would take place between labor and the state around the world in the decades to come, but there is also a strong affinity with the story of the French Revolution.
Ultimately, "News from Nowhere" is a combination of Morris' ideal of the Medieval workman as a happy artisan and his socialist beliefs. The irony for utopian scholarship is that while Morris was prompted by "Looking Backward" to write "News from Nowhere" as a refutation of Bellamy's reliance on the modern institutions of technology and complex organizations, but today the two works are seen as being kindred spirits because they both predict a brighter future for humanity. Still, it is became Morris is looking backward from the end of the 19th century to the past to find the ideal state that should be achieved in the future, that "News From Nowhere" is one of the most atypical examples of utopian literature.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Leopold's 'News from Nowhere', 23 Feb 2008
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Mr. T. Pinkney (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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David Leopold has given us a splendid edition of Morris's text for general reading and teaching purposes. His lucid, thoughtful introduction is excellent on Morris's relationship both to Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backward' and to the utopian tradition more generally. His footnotes are full and informative, with one or two intriguingly quirky moments too! Reasonably priced, this is definitely the edition to get in our students's hands.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More moving than I had expected, 5 Jun 2014
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
For what is basically a didactic, political novel, this is remarkably moving and intelligent. Give it a read, it's short.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 17 Feb 2014
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I would like to highly recommend this great book, and it arrived via fast delivery, and in good condition. Thank you very much indeed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My stepdad loved this, 14 July 2012
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Preston Girl (Telford, Shropshire UK) - See all my reviews
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I bought this for part of my stepdad's birthday present. He'd recently been on a William Morris holiday and he absolutely loved this. It's well priced and arrived super fast. The print was easier on the eye than some other more expensive versions.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars somewhat disappointing, 6 April 2011
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Kindle Edition)
Morris's work starts off promisingly with a contemporary (1890) man transported to an idyllic, initially seemingly Medieval London, which later turns out to be a pastoral, communist (in the original sense) world of sometime in the twenty first century or perhaps later. But this is not really a novel about time travel or even an alternate reality in the usual SF sense of the term. The novel's characters were originally conceived as allegories, but this unfortunately has the effect here of making then bland stereotypes, especially the women. There is no plot to speak of and the reader's knowledge about the society the narrator visits is largely obtained from rather stilted dialogues. The sum of these characteristics makes the future depicted so unbelievable that I found the novel rather disappointing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Morris being dreamily idealistic, 5 Mar 2013
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Morris published this book in 1890, at the age of 56, six years before his death, just as the Socialist League which he had founded had disintegrated and effectively put an end to his involvement in politics. It is of course a Utopia, taking the form of a dream he had of a better world. In it we find an expression of his philosophy, which is both backward and forward looking: backward in his idealization of a pre-industrial age when men took pride in craftsmanship, and forward in progressive views on education and the place of women in society. I have always thought of Morris as a lovable idealist, but one who was totally impractical. Socialists were inspired by him, but as the labour movement advanced, for better and for worse it compromised with capitalism and a badly defective parliamentary system. Morris had wryly realized that the labour movement has passed him by - but at least he could still dream; and his dream was in places so wildly unrealistic that one must assume that at least some aspects of this Utopia were written with tongue in cheek.

He dreamt of an England nearly two centuries after his time (the exact date is never specified). London has been considerably de-urbanized - the ugly and squalid buildings against which he had campaigned had mostly gone, to be replaced by open spaces, woods and gardens; the Thames in London is clean again and is swarming with salmon. Village life and the life of small towns had revived; the industrial towns in the North and in the Midlands had gone - there was next to no factory production, and the people were happily multi-skilled in manual craftsmanship. Idleness was unknown; so was money - everybody worked unpaid. Children did not have to go to school, happily learnt from doing, learnt to read without being taught, and many were able to speak more than one language. Women were fully emancipated and honoured - for their traditional roles as housewives and mothers. Couples remained together as long as they liked each other sufficiently, and if they parted, there was no disgrace and no economic considerations which made that process so confrontational. Because everybody was happy, they all looked much younger than they were and very handsome; and their clothes were as bright as those of the 19th century had been dull.

There were no civil or criminal laws, no courts, no police, no prisons they were not needed when there were no disputes about property and few crimes of passion, which were treated as diseases rather than as crimes. There is no central government - all decisions are made at the communal level, and after discussions, the minority readily goes along with the decisions of the majority. They had tried State Socialism, but that had enslaved the people almost as much as capitalism had.

There is a long historical section in which Morris imagined the process by which 19th century society had replaced the old system with the new - General strikes, and a civil war.

Morris rides some other of his hobby-horses: the people in his dreams are more interested in myths and legends of old than they are in depictions of contemporary life.

All this is conveyed in a rather didactic style (which I found both unimaginative and tediously repetitive, and with many romantic cliches) in the first half of the book. In the second half, it seems to me, what interest there was in the first had quite disappeared, as we get an account of him going by boat, with friends he has made, up the Thames from Hammersmith to beyond Oxford, noting that the "cokneyfied" houses that had spoilt its banks had all gone and that the ugly iron bridges spanning the river had been replaced by more handsome wooden ones. He falls in love (rather soppily, I think) with one of the young women in the party - and then he wakes up.

I have always been fond of Morris; but, as a literary production, I found this tract very disappointing.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight, 1 Dec 2011
By 
Peasant (Deepest England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Left-wing writers sometimes claim Morris as a socialist to sit alongside the likes of Keir Hardie, a pioneer of the British labour movement. Reading this, his personal Utopia, reveals how far his ideas were from those of his working class contemporaries. Morris's ideal world skates over many obvious problems, and assumes much in the way of perfectability in human nature. He isn't a particularly skilled writer of "fiction" (this is in no meaningful sense a novel) and, after starting with an appealling bang, the book gets bogged down and becomes rather heavy going as time passes. It isn't something most people would read for pure enjoyment, but it is important, if you wish to have an insight into Morris's place in late 19th century reform, to have read it.

Morris himself came from a privileged capitalist background - his father had made a fortune by wise (or lucky) investment - and his experience of the evils of industrialisation was that of an observer, not a victim. He had a highly romanticised sensibility and felt that, if his ideas could only be widely put into action, the world would become a paradise of fairness and beauty. His practical attempts, though today we cherish the results in the shape of the beautiful objects and designs created, had little impact on 19th century industrialism. His craftman-made objects were eye-wateringly expensive, accessible only to well-heeled idealists like himself. Meanwhile, the benefits of modern technology became available to ordinary people because of, not despite, the increased efficiency of factory production.

The astute reader will see that the way of doing things described in "News from Nowhere" could not, in practice, bring the benefits of science, research and modern medicine to an egalitarian citizenry in the way he hoped. Morris's world is essentially a cleaned up, better-educated medeival one. Though he campaigned tirelessly and helped raise awareness of the need for reform, it was not his way forward, in the end, which brought labouring people from out of the darkness into the light.
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News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics)
News from Nowhere (Oxford World's Classics) by William Morris (Paperback - 26 Mar 2009)
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