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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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11. Utopian Jews: Constructing the Other

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11. Utopian Jews: Constructing the Other42

He was a Jew and circumcised; for they have some few stirps of Jews yet remaining among them, whom they leave to their own religion. Which they may the better do, because they are of a far differing disposition from the Jews in other parts.

(Francis Bacon, New Atlantis)

Of all possible types and varieties of characters in early modern utopian fictions in Britain, the appearance of Jews may seem somewhat surprising, considering the virtual absence of a Jewish community in England at the beginning of that period and their essentially marginal position in the English society following their readmission by Oliver Cromwell in 1655. A sudden, but relatively short-lived increase of interest in the Jews as necessary elements of the approaching Millennium (as subjects to conversion to Christianity) did little to alter the traditionally hostile anti-Semitic stereotypes functioning in popular culture and theology.43 The latter mode of the Jewish presence in utopian fiction seems relatively more frequent, though usually limited to religious contexts, mediated via Biblical references. In Gerania, Homer, the founder of the state, speaks favourably of “the Holiness and Religion of the Jews” and “the Poetical Writings of their Learned King David” (Gerania 55). In The History of Sevarambians there are references to “the Jewish Computation” of the age of the world being “more plausible, because it agrees better with the Progress of Sciences and Arts” and Jewish authors appear alongside other ancient authorities: “He...

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