Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Utopia

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Utopia

Article excerpt

Utopia. By Thomas More. Translated and Introduced by Clarence H. Miller, with a new Afterword by Jerry Harp. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014, Pp. xxviii, 232. $8.95 paper.)

Clarence Miller is in a superb position to do his own translation of More's Utopia, this seminal work in the Renaissance and western canon, for he served not only as executive editor of the definitive fifteen-volume Yale edition and translation of the works of Thomas More, but also as a collaborator with George M. Logan and Robert M. Adams in the production of the Cambridge University Press edition of the Latin text and English translation of More's Utopia (1995). Miller also felt obliged to do it, since he finds that most translations produced in the last hundred year years have been too casual or breezy, including Adams' own in the Norton Critical Editions series (2010) and Paul Turner's for Penguin (2003). Miller's own distinctive contribution is to try to render faithfully into English the often significant stylistic variations in More's Latin, especially the contrast between the relatively simple Latin used for the descriptions of the various features of Utopian society, and the complex Latin employed for discussion of aspects of life in early sixteenth-century Europe (by which More perhaps meant to suggest that it is easy to dream about a better world, but hard to describe this one dispassionately). It should be noted, however, that this second edition of 2014 reproduces Miller's translation published already in 2001. All that is new here is a twenty-age afterward and updated "Suggestions for Further Reading," both by Jerry Harp, who teaches English at Lewis and Clark College. Since Miller's original seventeen-page Introduction plunges immediately in medias res and is not particularly helpful to a relatively uninformed reader, this was probably a good decision made by the editors at Yale, although the result is somewhat confusing.

As for substance, although Miller quotes with evident approval Edward Surtz's observation that Utopia is "an open-ended work- or, better, a dialogue with an indeterminate close. More asks the right questions-which can never be answered fully," Miller is quite vexed because it seems to him that nowhere is it made clear how Utopian society can exist or actually function. …

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