The Shape of Utopia

Wegner cover finalUpon its original publication in 1970, Robert C. Elliott’s The Shape of Utopia influenced both some of the major scholars of an emerging utopian and science fiction studies, including Darko Suvin, Louis Marin and Fredric Jameson, and authors of new utopian fiction ranging from Ursula K. Le Guin to Kim Stanley Robinson. The book establishes a deep genetic link between utopia and satire, and offers scintillating readings of classic works by Thomas More, Jonathan Swift, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Aldous Huxley and others. It charts the rise of an insidious «fear of utopia» that comes to characterize the first half of the twentieth century and investigates some of the aesthetic problems raised by the efforts to portray a utopian society, before concluding with brilliant speculations on the emerging practice of «anti-anti-utopia» – the reinvention of utopia for contemporary times. This Ralahine Classics edition also includes a new introduction by Phillip E. Wegner which situates the book in its context and argues for its continued significance today; a 1971 review of the book by the late author of utopian science fiction, Joanna Russ; and an opening tribute by one of Elliott’s former students, Kim Stanley Robinson.

 

Robert C. Elliott (1914-1981) was a Professor of English Literature and one of the founders of the Literature Department at the University of California, San Diego. He received his PhD from Brown University, and taught at Ohio State University from 1946-1964. He was also the author of The Power of Satire: Magic, Ritual, Art (1960) and The Literary Persona (1982).
Phillip E. Wegner is the Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar in the Department of English at the University of Florida, and the President of the Society for Utopian Studies. He received his PhD from the Literature Program at Duke University. He is the author of Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity (2002), Life Between Two Deaths, 1989-2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties (2009), and the forthcoming Ralahine volume Ontologies of the Possible: Utopia, Science Fiction and Globalization.

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