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Utopian Visions and Revisions

Or the Uses of Ideal Worlds

Artur Blaim

The book focuses on different uses of the concepts of utopia, dystopia, and anti-utopia. The author analyses literature, cinema, and rock music, as well as scientific and legal motifs in utopian fiction. He also considers the functions of Jewish characters in early modern utopias and looks at the utopian aspects of scientific claims of literary and cultural theories. Utopian models are also applied to the practice of literature (socialist realism) and current socio-political affairs. Among the texts and films discussed are "Utopia", "New Atlantis", "Gulliver’s Travels", "Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca", "Nineteen Eighty-Four", "A Minor Apocalypse", "Lord of the Flies", and "Even Dwarfs Started Small".

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2. “In a smaller figure.” Theses on Synecdoche and Utopia3


2. “In a smaller figure.” Theses on Synecdoche and Utopia3

Synecdoche occurs when the whole is known from a small part or a part from the whole. (Ad herennium)

Four basic types of relations between utopian discourse and synecdoche can be distinguished: the justification of the (possible) expansion of the definition of utopia, a factor in the evolution of the utopian genre, and the underlying principle of the construction and perception of the utopian text.

There has been a long-standing and recurrent tendency to consider the desert island narrative, also known as the robinsonade, as a form of utopian fiction. For Arthur Leslie Morton Robinson Crusoe is “the characteristic Utopia of the early eighteenth century, just as Churchill is its characteristic public figure,” and its eponymous protagonist a “full-scale bourgeois man” who, “having transformed England, has now reached the shores of Utopia” (Morton 1969: 123). Likewise, Frank and Fritzie Manuel envisage Crusoe as “a kind of aggressive bourgeois Prometheus” and credit Defoe with the invention of a new utopian form, robinsonade, in which “many elements are preserved from the classical Morean utopia and the ordinary adventure story” (Manuel 1979: 433). For James Holstun, the robinsonade comes closest to the Puritan utopia, despite certain important differences (Holstun 1987). Even though Louis James admits that Robinson Crusoe “lies outside the formal conventions of the genre,” he nonetheless maintains that it “introduced a genre of discourse which was to become a dominant strategy for expressing utopian ideals...

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