Utopia LTD. By Matthew Beaumont (Short Review)

Utopia novels are an interesting breed. While in contemporary societies we are perhaps more accustomed to utopian movies, back in the day utopian novels were as popular as dystopian fiction is today. Matthew Beaumont tackles a materialist understanding of utopian fiction in Victorian England. He traces its origins at the emergence of what he calls the fin de sieclesiècl ends by providing a detailed analysis of the ideological intent of utopian literature. The chapters correspond to the devolpment of the genre: (1) how, and why, literature shifted into utopian impulses (2) reformist socialism and its conception of utopia (3) feminist utopia writings (4) anti-communist dystopia writings (5) revolutionary socialist writings on utopia. Each chapter builds upon the last to erect a thorough critique of the realities of utopia writings from both the Left and Right. Written in clear and concise terms the book is easy to digest, assuming the reader as a basic understanding of Leftist jargon; in any rate, it is not needlessly complex and ridden with unnecessary theory. So there is no fear of spending hours upon hours in a single chapter in an attempt to understand its thesis; indeed, Beaumont lays bare his entire undertaking at the start of each chapter. So in all Utopia LTD. Is a splendid addition to any library on Victorian literature, Utopian literature, and English history at a decisive time in industrial development. Whether it is used as an introduction, an aid to further study, or merely one source among many in the academic flux that is intellectualism, anyone with a bone to pick with utopianism should not miss this addition.

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