Thursday, January 13, 2011
Utopia by Sir Thomas More
Background on Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More (pronounced /ˈmɔr/; February 7, 1478 – July 6, 1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important counsellor to Henry VIII of England and for three years toward the end of his life he was Lord Chancellor. He is also recognised as a saint within the Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion. He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation and of Martin Luther and William Tyndale.
More coined the word "utopia" - a name he gave to the ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in Utopia, published in 1516. He opposed the king's separation from the papal church and denied that the king was the Supreme Head of the Church of England, a status the king had been given by a compliant parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, because the act disparaged the power of the Pope and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535 he was tried and executed for treason by beheading. More was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, in 1935. In 1980, he was added to the Church of England's calendar of saints.
Articles from Luminarium
Links to Online Texts
Utopia at Oregon State
Utopia at Online Literature
Utopia at Project Gutenberg
Study Notes and Guides for Utopia
Sparknotes for Utopia
Study Guide with Detailed Information
Schedule of Readings
This is a fairly short book, and could be read in a few weeks (depending on your own schedule). I would suggest reading it at your leisure and taking the time to think about what Sir Thomas More might be suggesting in this story. You might want to spend a little time and review some British History so that you can understand better why this book is so important. Thomas More lived during the reign of Henry the VIII. It was his stand against Henry's wish to divorce that eventually led to More's execution (a must see -- watch Paul Scofield's dramatization of More in the movie, "A Man for All Seasons").