Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1987, pp. 506, (Italian translation, Long Editore, 1995).
By Krishan Kumar
The dream of a good or perfect society is as old as mankind. But 'utopia', the specifically literary expression of this dream, was invented only in 1516, by Sir Thomas More. From that time onwards, utopia has been a compelling form for the expression of the hopes and fears of western society.
This book is mainly concerned with the latest phase of utopia's history: the period since the 1880's. It considers the utopias and anti-utopias of edward Bellamy, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and B.F. Skinner. Science and socialism, their promise and their dangers, are the central themes of these works. The final part of the book considers that fate of utopia in the second half of the twentieth century.
'A really outstanding book.'
'Utopia and Anti-Utopia is a tour de force...a mammoth achievement, the kind of book many would happily write and die.'
'Kumar has written a brilliant book, and above all and engagingly readabel book...His scholarship and common of the vast utopian literature are remarkable.'
'There seems to be nothing relevant that Kumar has not absorbed and does not describe and evaluate intelligently. In thoroughness and readability, his is a literary-genre study as satisfying as C.S. Lewis' Allegory of Love,'