Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka
“A Jew, and circumcised”: Constructing collective and individual characters in early modern utopian fictions
The traditional model of the utopian state, originally adopted in Thomas More's Utopia, tends to eliminate or marginalise the redundant, the shameful, and the undesirable by relocating them to the periphery. This happens to certain groups of the population such as prisoners or slaves, slaughterhouses, wars, or even bodies of those who “illegally” committed suicide1. The offensive, the unclean, the unhealthy, or potentially irritating is pushed to the utmost borders of the utopian space:
We have all offensive Trades more apart scituate, as Brewers, Bakers, Chandlers, Butchers, Tanners, Dyers, Curriers, Felmongers, in some back-parts in the out-skirts of the Citie, by themselves, and neer the River to carry their filth away, least their fulsome Trades should with the badness of their smells offend the more pleasant dwellings, or cause infection. All Forgemen, as Smiths, Mettlemen, Tinkers, Pewterers, and all other noise-making Artificers that deal in fire, dwell in a convenient place wholly apart by themselves also, for the better safety of the houses, as to prevent the trouble of their impetuous noises. For this cause also ringing of Bells, more than for the calling of the people to Church, is every where inhibited. (H.R. 1660: 37-38).
All “noisy, unwholesome, or disagreeable trades” are banished from the streets to special places “assigned at a distance” (Burgh 1764: 89). In New Athens, “no Trade that is offensive to the Nose, the Eyes or Ears [...] is permitted to be in the City itself:...
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