More's Utopia is a complex, innovative and penetrating contribution to political thought, culminating in the famous 'description' of the Utopians, who live according to the principles of natural law, but are receptive to Christian teachings, who hold all possessions in common, and view gold as worthless.
Drawing on the ideas of Plato, St Augustine and Aristotle, Utopia was to prove seminal in its turn, giving rise to the genres of utopian and dystopian prose fiction whose practitioners include Sir Francis Bacon, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. At once a critique of the social consequences of greed and a meditation on the personal cost of entering public service, 'Utopia' dramatises the difficulty of balancing the competing claims of idealism and pragmatism, and continues to invite its readers to become participants in a compelling debate concerning the best state of a commonwealth.
With an Introduction by Mishtooni Bose.
About the Author
Sir Thomas More was born in 1478, the son of a prominent judge. He studied law but determined to become a monk. The prayer, fasting, and culture of penance stayed with him for the rest of his life. More's desire for monasticism was finally overcome by his sense of duty to serve his country in the field of politics. He entered Parliament in 1504. In 1510, More was appointed one of the two undersheriffs of London. In this capacity, he gained a reputation for being impartial, and a patron to the poor. In 1518 he became a member of the Privy Council, and was knighted in 1521.
More helped Henry VIII in writing his Defence of the Seven Sacraments, a repudiation of Luther, and wrote an answer to Luther's reply under a pseudonym. After the fall of Thomas Wolsey in 1529, More became Lord Chancellor, the first layman to hold the post. While his work in the law courts was exemplary, his fall came quickly. In April, 1534, More refused to swear to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy, and was committed to the Tower of London on 17 April. More was found guilty of treason and beheaded alongside Bishop Fisher on 06 July 1535. More's final words on the scaffold were, "The King's good servant, but God's First." More was beatified in 1886 and canonised by the Catholic Church as a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1935.