Utopia was written by Sir Thomas More in 1516. For those of you that know your history or at least watched the tv show The Tudors, know that he opposed Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic church and refused to acknowledge him as Supreme Head of the Church of England. Because of this and some say not attending the wedding of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII he was tried for treason and beheaded in 1535. More was a fascinating person and I loved studying European history in college and reading up about the Tudors and the insanity that went on with Henry VIII. That said I really didn't like this book that much.
I know that 1516 was several centuries ago but reading about slavery and how women were treated in the fictional Utopia had me realizing that this was not the best book for me. The first part of the book that has More having a conversation with Raphael Hythloday who begins talking about how best it is to counsel a prince. I thought this part was very well done and it does explore some very interesting thoughts and ideas about how due to "yes men" and those who want to grow rich those who often counsel a prince are not thinking of the good of society as a whole.
Part two I didn't care for that much at all. We have More providing detailed information about the fictional country of Utopia. One thing that I did like was that women worked just like men and farmed. However, we have More discussing that every household has slaves and that many neighboring countries have people who are quite happy to be enslaved in Utopia. That part made me laugh out loud a bit. More also discusses how every religion is tolerated in Utopia and how priests can marry (and priests can be either men or women).
Pretty much Utopia sounds like a fool's paradise that I would visit but would quickly take my leave after a day.
Many people to this day argue about why More wrote Utopia and what was he trying to say. I for one can say I am surprised he wrote this when you see how committed he was to the Catholic church. Having priests marry would have been a radical notion back in the day along with women being allowed to be priests too. I guess I shouldn't be too shocked about priests marrying since there were many Popes that had children and mistresses. For example, Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) had multiple children while a priest (also subject to a television show called the Borgias) and openly acknowledged them as his children. So I wonder if More saw the previous history of the Popes and thought that marrying and having children while a priest wasn't such a bad thing. Or possibly More wrote this in order to show that a perfect society in the England of the time and place he lived was not possible.
I do want to say that since I read this book for the most part on my Amazon Cloud Reader that the text ran together and I didn't have paragraphs to break up the flow which made it harder for me to get through. Once I read it on my Kindle though it was easier to read the paragraphs were there.