Faber Book of Utopias Paperback – 4 Oct 1999
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The instinct to seek perfection in human affairs is as old as Western Civilisation; sometimes it is claimed that the perfect society is lost in the past, or is very distant in the future or across the hills, and sometimes utopia is seen as achievable in our own time, by the adoption of a particular political programme. The great strength of John Carey's anthology of utopian writing, though at times also a significant weakness, is that he is highly suspicious of the entire enterprise; it is not insignificant, he implies by careful selection, that one of the first pieces of Utopian writing is Plato's The Republic that, however benevolent its goals, is maintained by a mixture of force and lies and depends on squashing the aspirations of ordinary people. In his useful introduction, he points to some key themes: the production of perfect offspring and keeping them that way by education, the punishment of criminals, and the management of ageing and death. Carey suggests that there are insoluble problems in human life and that utopians tend to falsify them by regarding them as simple. This is a useful anthology, but a dispiriting one--Carey's determination to let no-one off the hook is harsh, but fair. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Faber Book of Utopias, edited by John Carey, is a spellbinding anthology which charts the course of every conceivable dream world, whether originating from Ancient Egypt or modern California. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Got a deffective book, with the pages upside down and the cover right. Amazon shipped a new one for free. Great Service! Really useful and insightful book.Published 11 months ago by nexp
Excellent book. It's more like a reference book but very good all the same.Published 18 months ago by Mumraa27
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... Read morePublished on 28 Jun. 2014 by M. Duncan
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. Read morePublished on 17 Feb. 2012 by Wiggly