#10 = Volume 3, Part 3 = November 1976
Lyman Tower Sargent
Themes in Utopian Fiction in English Before Wells*
The utopia (eutopia, dystopia, or utopian satire), defined as a species of
prose fiction that describes in some detail a non-existent society located in
time and space, has been ill served by scholarship. A large number of studies
have been produced, but they have often been flawed by a lack of definitional
care and a failure to seriously consider bibliographical problems. As a result
poor scholarship has sometimes become canonized by other scholars who have
simply, and incorrectly, assumed the accuracy of past work. On the other hand,
of course, some work has been significantly better.
My complaint centers on two points. First, a search of the literature results
in a failure to find any serious concern with definitional problems until fairly
recently.1 Second, and closely related, most past studies have
centered on the "great works" of the genre. Although the latter is a
traditional approach to most literature and has produced many significant
contributions, it causes many problems unless specifically noted and allowed
for. Also, it tends to make definitional problems disappear, since it can be
argued that "everyone agrees" that these items belong in the genre.
Finally it leads to erroneous or wildly exaggerated generalizations about the
genre. For example, "everyone knows" that positive utopias stopped
appearing in the twentieth century and were replaced by the dystopia. Not true;
there have been one or more positive utopias published in English in every year
of this century so far, plus others in other languages. Also, "everyone
knows" that utopias were written in greater numbers around depressions.
Wildly exaggerated; utopias have been produced in a constant stream and while
some relationship to depressions can be shown, it appears to be, at the minimum,
a questionable relationship.
These, and other, problems arise because no one has yet done the
bibliographic work to establish the basic characteristics of the genre.2
I have recently "completed" reading3 every utopia (eutopia,
dystopia, and utopian satire) published in English from 1516 to 1975 and still
extant.4 There are about 1500 such works. Therefore, I think that it
is now possible to begin a study of the basic characteristics of utopias in
Here I wish to indicate what basic themes concerned the utopians before the
impact of H.G. Wells. This division is justifiable for a number of reasons.
First, Wells’ impact was significant and modified the genre to a great, but as
yet undetermined, extent. Second, the production of books multiplied so rapidly
in the twentieth century that generalization becomes more difficult. Third, the
upheavals of two world wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War, and the war in
Vietnam produced major shifts throughout the period, making generalization
Of course, there were major changes before Wells, but except for the
industrial revolution, they were more slowly manifested in utopian literature.
Still, it will be necessary to divide the works loosely by centuries in order to
try to capture similar time periods. And, given the tremendous upsurge of
utopian writing in response to Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward
(1888), it is best to divide the nineteenth century into pre- and post-Bellamy.
Since there were about 400 utopias published in English in the period under
consideration, certain methodological problems arise. It would be impossibly
lengthy, overly repetitious, and very dull to simply summarize each work. And
such an approach rarely produces anything of substance. Identifying major themes
sometimes tends to produce articles that have the flavor of statistical
analyses, but can also provide more substance since it is possible to show how a
number of works fit together.
If one is to describe a genre of literature or a literary tradition, one must
move away from the "greats" and deal with the works that compose the
bulk of the corpus under study.6 In this essay, then, I shall pass
over the few famous works that have been analyzed many times and emphasize the
little-known works that have hitherto been all but ignored.7
The 16th Century. Only eight utopias were published in the 16th century
in English (and about the same number in other languages). But they established,
with More’s Utopia (1516; in English 1551), the form the genre was to
take for some time; with Sidney’s Arcadia (1590) and Stubbes’ The
Anatomie of Abuses (1583),8 two of the major variants of the
genre (the arcadia and the utopian satire using the imaginary-country approach);
and, all in all, the basic characteristics that the utopian society was to have
for the succeeding centuries.
These characteristics can be neatly summarized as emphasizing authority and
religion. This approach is clearly used by four little known utopias of the
time.9 In all four the utopia is Christian and hierarchical. The
basic attitude is that people are weak and must be constantly supervised and
must know their place in order to behave as the author thinks they should.10
There is a particular concern that women in general and wives in particular be
obedient,11 but at whomever the specific injunction is directed, it
remains essentially the same, a good society will result if each person knows
and keeps his or her place. And punishment is right and sure for those who
violate the rules.12
The 17th Century. The utopias of the 17th century are, on the whole, well
known. They include such famous or near famous works as Hall’s The
Discovery of a New World (1605), Bacon’s New Atlantis (1626),
Godwin’s The Man in the Moone (1638), Platte’s Macaria (1641),
Gott’s Nova Solyma (1648), Harrington’s Oceana (1656) and
Neville’s The Isle of Pines (1668). Altogether there are about 30
utopias in the seventeenth century. And, as I indicated earlier, the basic
characteristics of the works largely follow the model laid down in the previous
century, with, of course, some additions and much detail. Works like Nova
Solyma are still the standard fare—Christian, hierarchical, basically
authoritarian. But a few new considerations do enter. There is slightly less
emphasis on punishment as the major means of social control and somewhat more
concern with education as a means of avoiding the necessity of punishment.
Also during this period the belief in women’s inferiority continued
unabated. Richard Brome’s The Antipodes (1640)13 is the
first utopia in English including a picture of sex-role reversal. In this case
the reversal is simply a part of a general reversal of the "natural"
order, but the theme is repeated by many later writers, including Edward Howard’s
The Six Days Adventure, or the New Utopia (1671)14 which,
while advocating women’s rights argues against going too far and alienating
the men. The standard pattern is to have dominant women and submissive men;
usually a strong man from the past or a different culture wins the most
important woman and the "natural" order is reestablished.15
A third work of the period presents an account of an island completely and
successfully ruled by women. Men are allowed on the island for only one month at
a time and male children are sent away at an early age.16
Another development in the seventeenth century is found in the first positive
statements about democracy. Two such works are Chaos (1659) and The
Free State of Noland (1696).17 In both books a democratic eutopia
is presented, but, as if expressing doubt, the democracy is limited and hedged
with restrictions. For example, in Chaos, while there are annual
elections, there is a property qualification for voting, no one suing or being
sued by someone else may either vote or be elected, and there are fines for
nonattendance in Parliament. Thus, politically the seventeenth century may be
seen as the beginning of a transition from more to less authoritarian,
centralized forms of government.
The 18th Century. Except for Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
(1726), and Johnson’s Rasselas (1759), the utopias of the 18th century
are not well known. There were something over thirty utopias published in
English during the century, and they present a mixed bag of reforms. Some, such
as "A description of New Athens in Terra Australis incognita" (1720),18
continue the tradition of the religious utopia that started with More.
The most constant theme, one that can be found as early as More and that
became central in the 18th century, is a distrust of lawyers and the whole
system of laws. For example, in one of the better known works, Berington’s The
Memoirs of Sigr Gaudentio de Lucca (1737), the whole social system is based
on the dictum "Thou shalt do no wrong to anyone," in large part in
order to avoid legal hairsplitting. And in Burgh’s An Account of...the
Cessares (1764) no lawyers are allowed and plain, direct speaking is
required at all trials. And, again, in Gentlemen’s A Trip to the Moon
simple, understandable laws are the basis of the system. Finally in 1769 two
works were published showing England depopulated and America supreme. In one of
them the cause for the decline of England was the willingness of the lawyers to
place profit before the law.19
Another theme of importance in the eighteenth century was the significance of
reason. Many works focus on this; one of the most extreme was A Voyage to the
World in the Centre of the Earth (1775)20 where men disciplined
themselves strictly to spend as little time possible on the demands of nature.
But there were also attacks on each extreme, such as Laputa in Gulliver’s
Travels and Goldsmith’s Asem, the Man-Hater (1765), which shows how
terrible a life of pure reason would be. This theme, both pro and con, is a
major one in the nineteenth century also.
Although we tend to think, perhaps because of More, that all utopias have the
institution of common property, or the like, it would be more accurate, at least
through most of the eighteenth century, to say that most utopias ignore economic
questions altogether or, at most, see them as secondary. But at the end of the
eighteenth century, Thomas Spence wrote a number of versions of his utopia
advocating a cooperative commonwealth with majority rule and a citizen militia.21
In doing so Spence provided the most thorough attack on the institutions of
English society at the time. His utopias were directed explicitly at the major
institutions, economic and political, of the time. In doing so he provided the
model of most future utopias.
While it is unlikely that the details of Spence’s utopias had any direct
impact on writers of later utopias, he was a forerunner of so much that occurred
later that it is tempting to see direct influence. Spence was the first utopian
to write in direct response to the industrial revolution and his proposals for
local control of land and industry sound modern even today. He also invented a
new rationalized alphabet and published many of his works in both regular
spelling and the new Spencean alphabet.
The nineteenth century was to produce almost three times as many utopias as
all previous centuries put together, and the majority of them were concerned
with the same problems that Spence considered and many came up with the same
The 19th Century: Before Bellamy. There were something over 160 utopias
published between 1800 and 1887. Obviously it is not possible to say much that
covers them all; they touch on almost all conceivable topics. But there are a
few statements that can be made.
Three themes, two of them connected, stand out. First, there is a great
concern with what constitutes an equitable economic system; normally these works
presented some form of socialism or a cooperative system. Second, the
communitarian movement attracted considerable attention; most works attack it.
These two are obviously linked since most communes were concerned with producing
a better life economically. The third theme is the "woman question,"
the whole complex of issues centered around the rule of women in society.
The first full American utopia, Equality, or A History of Lithconia
(1802),22 is a detailed exposition of a communal economy. There is no
money, all land is held in common, and everyone must work until age fifty, at
which time they can become part of the government. Equality is also
interesting in that it includes an ambivalence toward both urban and rural life
that is a major secondary theme throughout the nineteenth century; in Lithconia
the problem is solved by having houses spread equally over the entire country
with no concentration that would constitute an urban area but without the
isolation of rural life either.23
Three major approaches to the economy are proposed by utopias in this period.
First, there is complete public control of publicly owned property. Second,
there is private ownership with or without public regulation. Third, there are
various forms of cooperation that allow owners of private property to band
together to provide a sizable corporation that can compete in a free market,
usually regulated. Later, mostly in the post-Bellamy period, a fourth economic
system is added based on the single tax proposed by Henry George in Progress
and Poverty (1877).
The communal movement attracted attention from the earliest part of the
nineteenth century, even though communes had been established on the North
American continent as early as 1663.24 In 1818 a small book, written
by a follower of Spence, entitled Christian Policy in Full Practice Among the
People of Harmony, described a communal utopia clearly modeled on Harmony.
And as early as 1826 a story by James Kirke Paulding entitled "The Man
Machine, or the Pupil of ‘Circumstances’" attacked the ideas of Robert
Owen.26 Both positions are repeated constantly throughout the rest of
The third general theme, the "woman question," is also treated in Equality
(1802). Every individual over fifteen has a separate apartment which they
keep after marriage in order to remain independent. Equality is rarely
approached in its advocacy of women’s rights until well into the twentieth
One of the more interesting works treating this theme is James Lawrence, The
Empire of the Nairs: or, The Rights of Women (1811) which while possibly
quite honestly attempting to describe a society which gives rights to women, in
fact produces a male sexual fantasy:
What awaits our glory abroad, if we are slaves at home? What public
liberty, if one half of mankind be slaves to the other? But the children of
nature are not the tyrants of beauty. She neither chains nor wears chains—she
neither lessens the freedom of others, nor risks her own—she is an
attraction; but no tie; allowed to choose and to change, to sue and to
reject, she meets a refusal without affronting—she rejects without
affronting; she gives to many; and has enough for all; her favours are
unconfined; like the sun, she may shine on all mankind. The duration of the
amour depends on the temper of a pair; caprice separates those whom
inclination united; without blushing, they cease to love, and without
complaints, to please. Sure at every hour to find a sympathizing heart, the
forsaken lover broods not over his loss, nor bears rancor against him who
was preferred. Though all men were rivals, they would all be friends. Nor
look the other nymphs with aversion on him, whom a suiter favors, or
proposes to favor in his turn. Hence, maternity alone is certain and fixed;
the name ‘father’ is unknown.28
Although much of this sounds like a man’s eutopian fantasy of sexual
freedom without responsibility, Lawrence says that "This work was designed
to show the possibility of a nation’s reaching the highest civilization
without marriage."29 And while he clearly sees himself as
presenting a eutopia of equality and freedom the element of male fantasy
Lawrence provides a vision of the treatment of male and female as virtually
separate species with mutually exclusive, but in this case, equally important
social roles. The perception of women and men as radically different species of
the same genus might go far to illuminate the whole question of the role and
position of women in society during this period. If one defines sets of social
conditions for the development of the peculiar characteristics of each sex,
based on a belief that the sexes are radically different in the sense of two
species with no mixing of characteristics, then it is possible to convince
oneself that inferiority is equality and that male sexual fantasy is equality.
There are, of course, many other themes; the most significant subsidiary
themes are reason,30 religion,31 and science and
technology.32 All are seen as means of bringing about utopia and as
capable of producing terrible societies. This is, as was noted in connection
with the communal movement, the period of the first anti-utopian novels.
From Bellamy to Wells. There were about the same number of utopias
written between 1888 and 1895 as in all the previous eighty-seven years. But
although there are many, they do not differ greatly from the earlier ones in the
themes they treat. Of course, many are directly concerned, pro or con, with
Bellamy’s Looking Backward, but these works tend simply to continue the
debate on the most equitable economic system that was noted earlier. There are
more fairly straight-forward socialist utopias than in the past, but they differ
little in content. The related issue of the communal movement has, on the whole,
The "woman question" still exercises many writers, but they had
little to add to the debate. And the other themes of the earlier period, reason,
religion, science and technology, also continue. The only significant addition
to the patterns involved is in the numbers of anti-utopian novels that are
produced. Almost all were directed against Bellamy.
I have noted only the major themes and subthemes of the utopias under
consideration. There were many other points that could have been mentioned. The
attitude to law, ranging from those, such as More, who banish all lawyers to
those who provide detailed legal systems as the basis of their utopias is an
important theme. The attitude toward the family is another.33 And, of
course, the attitude toward education is yet another.34 All of these
themes could have been treated at length, but they are subsidiary to the ones
What happens to the utopia after Wells? No one really knows. The twentieth
century utopia is the least studied of all, the bibliography is the most
difficult to establish, and the books are, surprisingly, often very hard to
locate. But it can be said that at least prior to World War II, the utopian
novel in the twentieth century was as much a response to the dominating position
of Wells as it was to Bellamy after 1888. But that impact has yet to be
*Research for this project has been partially supported
through grants from the Office of Research Administration, University of
1. Some recent attempts at dealing with the problem of
definition: Lyman Tower Sargent, "Utopia: The Problem of Definition," Extrapolation
16(1975):127-48; Darko Suvin, "Defining the Literary Genre of Utopia,"
Studies in the Literary Imagination 6,88(1973):121-45; Renato Poggioli, Definizione
dell-utopia, #46 of Saggi di Vari Umanita (Pisa 1964).
2. There are, of course, a number of bibliographies and
studies, but very few of the general studies ever address the definitional
question seriously. For example, two of the better recent studies of American
utopias get muddled by not dealing adequately with the problem of definition:
Kenneth Roemer, The Obsolete Necessity: America in Utopian Writings,
1888-1900 (Kent State University Press, 1976), and Charles J. Rooney,
"Utopian Literature as a Reflection of Social Forces in America, 1865-1917"
(doct. diss., George Washington University, 1968). Also, most of the works on
American utopias have originated as doctoral dissertations that never even came
close to surveying the literature; for example: Vernon Louis Parrington Jr., American
Dreams: A Study of American Utopias (2nd edn US 1964); Robert L. Shurter, The
Utopian Novel in America, 1865-1900 (US 1974); Margaret Thal-Larsen,
"Political and Economic Ideas of American Utopian Fiction" (doct. diss.,
UC Berkeley, 1941). Other Dissertations: Donald C. Burt, "Utopia and the
Agrarian Tradition in America, 1885-1900" (University of New Mexico, 1973);
Joe Mellin Nydahl, "Utopia Americana: Early American Utopian Fiction, 1790-1864"
(University of Michigan, 1974); Frederick Earl Pratter, "The Uses of
Utopia: An Analysis of American Speculative Fiction 1880-1960" (University
of Iowa, 1973); Ellene Ransom, "Utopus Discovers America or Critical
Realism in American Utopian Fiction, 1798-1900" (Vanderbilt University,
1946); A. James Stupple, "Utopian Humanism in America, 1885-1900"
(Northwestern University, 1971).
The studies of English utopias, while better, suffer from
similar problems: Robert de Maria, "From Bulwer-Lytton to George Orwell:
The Utopian Novel in England 1870-1950" (doct. diss. Columbia University,
1959); V. Dupont, L’Utopie et le roman utopique dans la littérature
anglaise (Paris 1941); Richard Gerber, Utopian Fantasy: A Study of
English Utopian Fiction since the End of the Nineteenth Century (UK 1955);
A.L. Morton, The English Utopia (UK 1952); Angele Botros Samaan,
"The Novel of Utopianism and Prophecy. From Lytton (1871) to Orwell (1949).
With Special Reference to its Reception" (doct. diss., University of
London, 1962). There are dozens of purportedly general studies of utopianism,
but they are all worse, both definitionally and bibliographically, than the
3. Of course no study of this sort is ever actually completed,
for there is always that one more reference to run down. By "reading"
I mean that I have taken notes on the following topics whenever they appear in
the work: time, place, human nature, degree of perfection, conformity and non-conformity,
emotions and irrationality, value system, equality, socialization system,
educational system, family system, sexual relations, illness, death, crime and
punishment, science and technology, war and military, recreation and
entertainment, art and aesthetics, economic system, rural/urban ratio, political
system, change to and within the society.
4. A preliminary bibliography, much dated now, has been
circulated. An annotated version is in progress. There is desperate need for
more work on bibliographies of utopia in other languages.
5. For partial studies of the work published after World War
II, see Lyman Tower Sargent, "Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary Science
Fiction," The Futurist 6(June 1972):93-98, and "Images of the
Future in Science Fiction," a paper presented to the 1974 Annual Meeting of
the American Political Science Association.
6. In political thought there has been a significant recent
literature on this matter: e.g., Quentin Skinner, "Meaning and
Understanding in the History of Ideas," History and Theory 8(1969):3-53;
"Political Thought and Political Action: A Symposium on Quentin
Skinner," Political Theory 2(1974):251-303; and J.G.A. Pocock, Politics,
Language and Time (US 1971).
7. For the less-known works listed in the following notes I
have provided either the standard library location symbol for the copy I read (C
= Cambridge University Library; CSmH = Huntington Library; DLC = Library of
Congress; L = British Museum (now British Library); LLL = London Library; LUG =
London University, Goldsmith’s Library; NcD = Duke University Library; NN =
New York Public Library; WHi = Wisconsin Historical Society) or a volume-item
reference to Lyle H. Wright, American Fiction (3 vols. UL 1965-69), e.g.
W2: 1290 = Wright 1851-1875, Item 1290. Unless indicated otherwise, the city of
publication is London.
8. Phillip Stubs [Stubbes], The Anatomie of Abuses
(1585 L); see also Stubbes, The Second Part of the Anatomie of Abuses
9. A Pleasant Dialogue betweene a Lady called Listra, and a
Pilgrim, signed T.H. (1579 CSmH); The second part of the painefull Jorney
of the poore Pylgrime into Asia (1579 CSmH); [Thomas Lupton], Siuquila.
Too Good, to be true (1580 L); and Lupton, The Second part and Knitting
up of the Boke entituled Too good to be true (1581 L).
10. For further consideration of this point, see my "A
Note on The Other Side of Human Nature in the Utopian Novel," Political
11. For further consideration of this point, see my
"Women in Utopia," Comparative Literature Studies 10(1973):302-16.
12. Of course it should be remembered that at about this time
Rabelais established his utopian Abbaye de Thélème on the basis of "Do
What Thou Wilt."
13. Richard Brome, The Antipodes (1640 L), available in
editions of Brome’s works or in collections of Elizabethan plays.
15. To 1895 there are only four: Timothy Savage (pseud.?), The
Amazonian Republic (New York 1842 W2:2315); Annie Denton Cridge, Man’s
Rights; or, How Would You Like It? (Boston 1870 W2:658); Sir Walter Besant, The
Revolt of Man (1882 L); and Walter Browne, "2894" or, the
Fossil Man (New York 1894; not available in any library; two copies are
known to be in private collections).
16. J.S., A Discovery of Fonseca in a Voyage to Surranam
17. Chaos: or, A Discourse, Wherein Is presented to the
view of the Magistrate, and all others who shall peruse the some, a Frame of
Government by way of a Republique (1659 L); The Free State of Noland
18. "A Description of New Athens in Terra Australis
incognita," signed Maurice William, in Miscellanea Aurea: or the Golden
Medley, attributed to Thomas Killigrew (1720 DLC), pp 80-81. Another item in
this collection is sometimes labeled utopian: "A voyage to the Mountains of
the Moon Under the Equator," signed Carlo Amotesocio, pp 1-34.
19. Private Letters from an American in England to his
Friends in America (1769 L), 1781 edn as Anticipation, or The Voyage of
an American to England in the Year 1899 (L); Rationales (pseud.),
"Remarks which are supposed will be made in this Kingdom, by two North
American travelers in the year one thousand nine hundred and forty-four,"
The Literary Register or Weekly Miscellany (Newcastle) 1(1769):98-99 (L, NcD).
20. A Voyage to the World in the Center of the Earth
21. [Thomas Spence], A Supplement to the History of
Robinson Crusoe (Newcastle 1782 L), Description of Spensonia (1795
L), The Constitution of a Perfect Commonwealth (1798 L), The
Constitution of Spensonia (1801 L), and The receipt to make a millennium
or happy world ( LLL). On Spence see Terry Mitchell Parssinen,
"Thomas Spence and the Spenceans: A Study of Revolutionary Utopianism in
the England of George III" (doct. diss., Brandeis University, 1968).
22. Originally pbd as a serial in The Temple of Reason
(Philadelphia); pbd as book, Philadelphia 1837, rpt Philadelphia 1947, with
attribution to James Reynolds. The earliest use of the imaginary-country theme
in America seems to have been almost a century earlier in Joseph Morgan, The
History of the Kingdom of Basurauh (1715). Some consider "An
Allegorical Description of a certain Island and its Inhabitants," The
Massachusetts Magazine (1790), an allegory using utopian imagery, to be the
first American utopia. A better candidate is An Account of Count D’Artois
and his Friend’s Passage to the Moon [1785?], which does include some
23. The best known advocate of this position is Henry Olerich,
who wrote three utopias on this theme: A Cityless and Countryless World
(Holstein 1893), Modern Paradise (Omaha 1915), and The Story of the
World a Thousand Years Hence (Omaha 1923).
24. The commune was based on the ideas of Pieter Plockhoy, who
as Peter Cornelius van Zurich-Zee wrote A Way propounded to Make the poor in
these and other Nations happy ( L). There are, of course, those who
argue that the Plymouth Colony, etc., should be called communitarian
25. [Thomas Evans?], Christian Policy in Full Practice
26. [James Kirk Paulding], "The Man Machine, or the Pupil
of ‘Circumstances,’" in The Merry Toles of the Three Wise Men of
Gotham (New York 1826 W1:2015).
27. These works include Louis Anastasius Tarascon, Louis
Anastasius Tarascon to his fellow citizens of the United States of America
(New York 1837 NN); Samuel Bower, A Sequel to the Peopling of Utopia
(Bradford 1838 L); Robert Cooper, A Contrast between the new moral world and
the old immoral world (Manchester 1838 L); The Island of Liberty; or,
Equality and Community (1848 L); James S. Buckingham, National Evils and
Practical Remedies ( L. DLC); [Granville Murry], "Franklin Bacon’s
Republic: Diary of an Inventor," Cornhill Magazine 27(1873):562-80;
Marie Howland, Papa’s Own Girl (New York 1874 W2:1290); and Alexander
Langley, What is Communism? (St. Louis 1890 WHi).
28. James Lawrence, The Empire of the Nairs, or, The Rights
of Women: An Utopian Romance (4 vols. 1811 L), 1:32-33.
29. Ibid., 1:ii.
30. Works stressing reason: George Fowler, A Flight to the
Moon (Baltimore 1813 W1: 997); Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race
(1871); Andrew Blair, Annals of the Twenty-ninth Century (3 vols. 1874
L); [Ellis James Davis], Pyrna (1875 L); Etymonia (1875 L); John
George Schwahn, The Tableau (Los Angeles 1892 W3:4821); A.P. Russell, Sub-Coelum
(Boston 1893 W3:4720); and M. Auberré Hovorré [pseud. for Albert Waldo
Howard], The Milltillionaire (Boston 1895? L, DLC).
31. Works stressing religion: The Vision of Hades (1825
L); [Richard] Brothers, The New Covenant Between God and His People (1830
L, NN); [Sylvester Judd], Margaret (Boston 1845 W2: 1512); 1945: A
Vision (1845 C); [William Andrews?], Constitution of or Organic Basis of
the Pantarchy (New York 1860 LUG); [John Vickers], The New Koran of the
Pacifican Friendhood (1861 L); The Monk of the Mountains
(Indianapolis 1866 W2:1729a); [Rev. Gideon Jasper Richard Ouseley], Palingenesia;
or, The Earth’s New Birth (Glasgow 1884 L); and William T[homas] Stead, If
Christ Came to Chicago! (1894 L).
32. Works stressing science and technology: J.A. Etzler,
The Paradise within Reach of All Men (Philadelphia 1833 L) and four other
works by Etzler; Milton Worth Ramsey, Six Thousand Years Hence
(Minneapolis 1891 W3:4420); Robert D. Braine, Messages from Mars (New
York 1892 L); John Jacob Astor, A Journey to Other Worlds (New York 1894
33. See my "Images of the Family in the Utopian
Novel," paper to be presented to the 1976 annual meeting of the American
Political Science Association.
34. See Robert T. Fisher, Classical Utopian Theories of
Education (US 1963); Gildo Masso, Education in Utopias (US 1927), and
Howard Ozman, Utopias and Education (US 1969).
The different forms of utopia (eutopia, dystopia, or
utopian satire) may be commonly defined as species of prose fiction describing in some
detail a non-existent society located in time and space. In all its forms, utopia has been
ill-served by scholarship. Many studies have been published, but they have often been
flawed by a lack of definitional care and a failure to consider bibliographical problems.
As a result, poor scholarship has sometimes been canonized by other scholars who have
incorrectly assumed the accuracy of past work. Here, I indicate what themes concerned
utopians before the impact of Edward Bellamy and H. G. Wells. Since there were about 400
utopias published in English in the period under consideration, it would be impossible to
summarize each work. I therefore pass over the few famous works that have been analyzed
many times and emphasize little-known works—from Stubbes’s "The Anatomie
of Abuses (1583) through Goldsmith’s Asem, the Man Hater (1765) and
Paulding’s "The Man-Machine, or the Pupil of Circumstances" (1826). Eight
utopias were written in English during the sixteenth century, thirty during the
seventeenth, thirty during the eighteenth (many concerned with the consequences of
excessive regulation), and over 160 were published between 1800 and 1887. Between 1888 and
1895, there were about the same number of utopias written as in all the previous
eighty-seven years. What happens to the utopia after Wells? No one really knows. The
twentieth-century utopia is the least studied of all, the bibliography is the most
difficult to establish, and the books are, surprisingly, often difficult to locate.