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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellently varied anthology
In this book John Carey gives us a varied selection of fantasy worlds, from the more traditional 'perfect' utopias to the dystopias of Orwell and Huxley. The selection varies from 1000BC right up to the modern day and gives a fascinating insight into the dreams of societies, showing how little humankind has changed. It is interesting to note how similar the utopian's...
Published on 28 Mar 2001

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great as a prompt for further reading but little more
The FBoU is a very good book so long as you use it as intended. The aim is to give you a taste of the most important utopian literature from the past. Starting from almost 2000bc Carey guides one through Plato, Tacitus all the way through to Orwell and Huxley and beyond while stopping off along the way to consider an eclectic bunch including the Marquis de Sade,...
Published on 4 Sep 2001 by edd_walker@yahoo.co.uk


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellently varied anthology, 28 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Faber Book of Utopias (Paperback)
In this book John Carey gives us a varied selection of fantasy worlds, from the more traditional 'perfect' utopias to the dystopias of Orwell and Huxley. The selection varies from 1000BC right up to the modern day and gives a fascinating insight into the dreams of societies, showing how little humankind has changed. It is interesting to note how similar the utopian's ideas are, and how some of them now occur. Carey's editing is sublime, with the plot of each novel clearly and easily explained in a few paragraphs. The excerpts are similarily well chosen.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great as a prompt for further reading but little more, 4 Sep 2001
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This review is from: The Faber Book of Utopias (Paperback)
The FBoU is a very good book so long as you use it as intended. The aim is to give you a taste of the most important utopian literature from the past. Starting from almost 2000bc Carey guides one through Plato, Tacitus all the way through to Orwell and Huxley and beyond while stopping off along the way to consider an eclectic bunch including the Marquis de Sade, Zamyatin and Hitler. Indeed, it is the breadth of this journey which for some will undo the enjoyment of Carey's work.
Buying the book as a means to becoming well read in utopian literature in a short space of time will not work. The book provides excerpts from utopian works, the length of which I often felt were too short to be satisifactory. As a stand alone book, the FBoU does simply does not work. Such criticism is perhaps unfair, as this is not how Carey probably intended the book to be used. Indeed as a first port of call the book is very good. Having read the short extracts one is often left wanting more. This in many ways is a credit to Carey as he provides an introduction to utopian literature that otherwise would be left forgotten.
As a stimulus to further reading I have found few books as good as this, just don't expect to finish reading this book knowing all you would like to about the fascinating genre that is utopian writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building Better Worlds, 5 April 2014
By 
Obelix (Ancient Gaul) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Faber Book of Utopias (Paperback)
Despite the title, this is a surprisingly grim work. The problem with utopias, as Carey points out, is they aim for perfection. That sounds noble, even benevolent - at first. But human beings are far from perfect, and so are the societies they build around them. A utopia cannot tolerate imperfections: they delay our progress to a better world, and bear down on the people who will achieve it. By necessity, that means wiping out an awful lot of people today for the benefit of people tomorrow.

Carey picks excerpts from a variety of works, many picking up on this paradox knowingly, some otherwise. The range is impressive: Homer, Tacitus, Sir Thomas More (of course), Andrew Marvell, B.F. Skinner, Hitler, Julian Barnes and many others.

Taken together, they're a bracing mixture of idealism and inhumanity. The theme of making people disappear is present even in Plato's The Republic, and is carried on by a disturbing number of others. There are methods other than killing, of course. Huxley and Skinner both describe worlds where criminality has been bred out by a programme of conditioning.

Carey's commentaries on each entry are lively, often with some licensed naughtiness. The World State from Brave New World wins praise as well as blame: they have eliminated crime, and managed the eternal problems of happiness, death, over population. The latter is crucial: the world's population is kept stable at around 2 billion. Our global population is due to reach 8.6 billion by 2025 - a number of people the Earth has never had to support before. How long this can carry on - and the changes to privacy and freedom - is a recurring question. (Wells' When the Sleeper Wakes is an especially dire vision of an overcrowded planet.)

For me, Julian Barnes' vision of Heaven (from the novel A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters) comes out as the best realised and executed. In Heaven, your food is perfect; your football team never loses; you have time to meet whoever you want, master every skill, craft or sport you choose, read every book, watch every film, and sleep with supermodels daily. It turns out there is still death, even in the afterlife. After a while, people ask - often beg - for oblivion, and get it. Shocked, Barnes' character asks how many people ask for this. Everyone, is the answer. It turns out that at an eternity of always getting what you want, in the end, has the same effect as getting nothing that you want. It's a uniquely human problem. Then again, it's one this book covers with envious range and thoughtfulness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good Anthology, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Faber Book of Utopias (Paperback)
If you want to read something without getting too involved then this is for you. Read it as a reference book or from cover to cover, either way you'll learn a great deal about this philosophical topic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to utopias for those unfamiliar with its history, 19 Dec 2012
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F. Y. Blumenfeld (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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This compendium of various takes on utopias is excellent. The only two problems
I had with it were that the excerpts were too short in many instances and also that
they left out some of the later works, like EUTOPIA (1999) published by Thames & Hudson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good for referencing, 17 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Faber Book of Utopias (Paperback)
The other reviews here have pretty much summed up the book. I do however have to add that it's a great book for referencing, or for looking for an authour/story quickly. Each authour is briefly introduced, the main plot and themes laid out, and the extracts provide great quotes. This is great for introductions, conclusions or anything else in an essay/dissertation/work. The index is complete and efficient for finding a useful reference quickly. All in all this book is worth 4£ (if you buy second hand) and is good for quick read as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read, 28 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Faber Book of Utopias (Paperback)
John Carey's terse and humorously acerbic prose only lightly graces his collection of utopias from history, but his asides are worth the wait, such as describing the Marquis de Sade as 'stuck in the groove of a ludicrous and humiliating sexual perversion'. Mostly, though, he introduces the pieces like a discreet butler, allowing them to speak for themselves. Fascinating bedtime reading...
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating chronological overview, 21 April 2000
By A Customer
a book of excerpts from works on the subject of utopia with contextual/background commentary
i've been dipping in and out of it since november'99 and it's fascinating
i'm reading it alongside 'the goddess vs the alphabet' & 'the english' which provide alternative views on linked subjects
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The Faber Book of Utopias
The Faber Book of Utopias by John Carey (Paperback - 18 Sep 2000)
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