Edited By Francisco Bethencourt
Utopia and History: Camões’ Os Lusíadas and Tavares’ Uma Viagem à Índia
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HELENA CARVALHÃO BUESCU
Utopia and History: Camoes’ Os Lusíadas and Tavares’ Uma Viagem à Índia
There is definitely a heterogeneous legacy in utopianism, recognized as such by many critics, which makes it hesitate between stability, or even rigidity, on the one hand, and transformation or process, on the other. The invention of symbolic (mostly literary) places that have served as the location of utopia itself, be they More’s Utopia (1516), Campanella’s The City of the Sun (1623), or George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1934), necessarily tends to the former (stability); whereas if utopia is primarily connected to a hoped for (or feared) future, it seems to underscore the latter (transformation), as for instance in the writing of António Vieira or Fernando Pessoa – as well as in the work of the great historian of utopia himself, Ernst Bloch.1 Fredric Jameson, another central critic of utopianism under its different guises, therefore distinguishes between utopias as a ‘programme’ and as an ‘impulse’.2 And he correctly underlines the different implications of these. Bloch himself is, I think, definitely more interested in the latter (the impulse) than the former (the programme). In fact, Bloch’s principle of hope, according to which utopia is essentially seen as a connection between the future and the present, an anticipatory form of realism, so to speak, highlights one of the main issues in utopian thought: the fact that it supposes a confrontation between (and therefore an awareness of) what is and what,...
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