Gazing in Useless Wonder

English Utopian Fictions, 1516–1800

by Artur Blaim (Author)
©2013 Monographs X, 356 Pages
Series: Ralahine Utopian Studies, Volume 13


Gazing in Useless Wonder focuses on utopias as self-referential texts that literally have to constitute themselves as imaginary or intentional entities before they can work as vehicles for socio-political ideas. Foregrounding the construction of utopian fictions defines both the perspective and the differentiation of the analytically significant elements, so that the traditionally dominant topics such as the nature and origins of the ideologies behind the construction of the ideal model are taken into account only insofar as they contribute to the aesthetic effect of the utopian construct as a whole. The organising principle of the early modern utopia involves two different modes of presentation: the narrative frame and the ekphrastic description of the ideal state, each possessing an aesthetic function realised according to different principles, with the ideal image constructed in accordance with the dominant aesthetic norms of the period pertaining to the visual arts, such as harmony, symmetry, alleged perfection, and timelessness. Despite variations, especially in the thematic-ideological domain, the dominant genre pattern that emerged as a result of the simplification of the complex semantics of Thomas More’s Utopia in the early modern period is taken here as forming a single synchrony in the history of utopian fiction-making.


X, 356
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (June)
aesthetic effect narrative frame timelessness ekphrastic description
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2013. 356 pp.

Biographical notes

Artur Blaim (Author)

Artur Blaim is Professor of English Literature at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin and the University of Gdansk. His books include Early English Utopian Fiction (1984), The English Robinsonade of the Eighteenth Century (1990) and Aesthetic Objects and Blueprints: English Utopias of the Enlightenment (1997), as well as Imperfect Worlds and Dystopian Narratives in Contemporary Cinema (2011) and Spectres of Utopia: Theory, Practice, Conventions (co-edited with Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim, 2012).


Title: Gazing in Useless Wonder