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Hieronymus Bosch - The Garden of Earthly Delights - The Earthly Paradise (Garden of Eden)
Left panel (The Earthly ParadiseGarden of Eden) from Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Utopia is a name for an imaginary community or society with a perfect system of laws and politics.

Sir Thomas More invented the word for his 1516 book Utopia. The book was about a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The word has been used to describe both a perfect society, and societies in literature. A related idea is dystopia.

There have been many utopias based on politics, economics, religion, ecology. Some of these have been propagated in books and pamphlets, some as actual communities. In practice, attempts to create utopias seem doomed, as good intentions run against problems. Most of the literary utopias are actually satires of existing societies.

Literature examples

  • Plato's Republic by Plato (~380 BCE) is one of the earliest conceptions of a utopia.
  • The City of God by Augustine of Hippo, (413–426 AD) describes an ideal city, the "eternal" Jerusalem, the archetype of all Christian utopias.
  • New Atlantis by Francis Bacon (1627).
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726), a satire on human nature and on 'travellers tales'.
  • Erewhon by Samuel Butler (1872), a satirical utopia.
  • News from Nowhere by William Morris (1892). Nowhere: a place without politics, a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production.
  • A Modern Utopia by H. G. Wells (1905).
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949), a dystopia.

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