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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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7. Signs. Symptoms. Reality: The Quests for Truth in The Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca


7. Signs. Symptoms. Reality: The Quests for Truth in The Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca22

Eighteenth-century utopias that were intended to divert an increasing number of literate ladies, in which the adventures of heroes and heroines all but drown out the didactic element, are worthy of study, especially in an inquiry into the history of women or male conceptions about their literary tastes, but they are not a major concern of serious utopian thought. (Frank and Fritzie Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1979)

The Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca is a peculiar book. First published in 1732, it immediately became widely popular, both in England and on the continent. During the hundred years after its appearance it was republished over 20 times in Great Britain and America.23 The last edition was published in 1850 and no further editions came out until 1973, when a reprint of the original edition appeared with a preface by Josephine Grieder in The Foundations of the Novel series. What were the reasons for the book’s instant popularity and its equally sudden decline? A possible answer is its alleged authorship. For many years it was believed that the author was George Berkeley. However, when it was declared that the book was written by a Roman Catholic priest Simon Berington, the book fell out of favour with publishers and readers alike.24 And yet, despite the critical neglect The Memoirs of Signor Gaudentio di Lucca...

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