1775 Companions
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What I am reading

this is the highly subjective way I read and interpret literature

(I mostly read classic belles-lettres, but you’ll find some examples of trashy readings here and there as well)

A Utopia worth its name

A Modern Utopia - Francis Wheen, Gregory Claeys, H.G. Wells

This is so witty and funny! Especially compared to „classic“ utopias. Wells was obviously well versed in the tradition of utopian writing and took it upon himself to create a modern version of it by learning from the mistakes of past writers instead of repeating them and by adding a good portion of humour to the whole mix. His novella contains smart and very precise comments on many of the common flaws in classic utopian fiction – or to be more precise, on what from his modernist point of view would be perceived as flaws.

Yet, A Modern Utopia is not only a modern take on the idea of an ideal society in its content, but also in its form. Not only is the narrator easily distracted and therefore gets sidetracked frequently, but there is also his companion, the Botanist, who constantly bugs him and interrupts his train of thought with a failed love story (the relationship between those two characters is just wonderful).

I have to admit, that Wells’ Utopia sounded quite ok until I arrived at the obligatory chapter on women and marriage, because that’s usually the point at which the shit hits the fan for everyone who is not male. As much as Wells learned from past utopian concepts, it is sad and disappointing that he seems unable to imagine a world, in which women are not reduced to being mothers, but are socially and legally equal to men.

It took me quite a while to finish this book, because I was really busy and although this text is entertaining, it is quite demanding as well (some chapters are rather treatise-like). A Modern Utopia is by far the most intelligent, humorous and least nightmarish Utopia I have come across.