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Utopia and Dystopia


The dream of a golden age, first expressed by Hesiod, and philosophical writings such as Plato’s Republic, has become a recurring theme in literature. Many have attempted to define the ideal society. For some, the dream has turned into a nightmare, a dystopia. This page includes the best of these speculations.

by Sir Thomas More [1516]
Mores’ work is a fictional travelogue to a country named ‘Utopia’, which means ‘nowhere’ in Greek.


 The New Atlantis
by Francis Bacon [1627]
A short utopian travelogue by the inventor of the scientific method.

 The City of the Sun
by Tommaso Campanella [1637]
Along with More, Campanella wrote one of the first early modern utopias.


 Symzonia: Voyage of Discovery
by Adam Seaborn, (pseud. John Cleves Symmes?) [1820]
One of the rarest Hollow Earth books: a perilous sea journey to a utopian society in the inner earth, possibly the first American utopian science fiction novel.

 The Republic
tr. by Benjamin Jowett [1871]
One of the first speculations about a planned society.

 Erewhon, or Over the Range
by Samuel Butler [1872]
An influential 19th century satiric dystopia.

 The Communistic Societies of the United States
by Charles Nordhoff [1875]
Firsthand view of the 19th century US communal living movement, including the Shakers.

 Looking Backwards
by Edward Bellamy [1888]
Bellamy’s classic utopian vision of the year 2000.

 Cæsar’s Column
by Ignatius Donnelly [1890]
Donnelly’s dystopian novel with a utopian twist. This book contains many 19th century assumptions which may test your limits of political correctness, along with some stupifyingly correct predictions.

 News from Nowhere
by William Morris [1891]
William Morris’ vision of a socialist England.

 Unveiling a Parallel
by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant [1893]
A trip to Mars, where a strange society which practices equality of the sexes.

 A Modern Utopia
by H.G. Wells [1909]
Wells’ ‘novel of ideas’ set on a parallel Earth.

 The Iron Heel
by Jack London [1909]
Jack London’s dystopian vision of a brutal future past.

 Garden Cities of To-morrow
by Ebenezer Howard [1902]
A very influential early city planner’s vision of the city of the future–which became a very successful reality.

by Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman [1906]
Visit a land where women are the only gender. They reproduce asexually, and worship a goddess. Classic of feminist scifi.


 The Story of Utopias
by Lewis Mumford [1922]
A survey of the literature of utopias, by a pioneer of city planning.

Due to copyright restrictions, an etext of George Orwell’s 1984 [External Site] is not available in the US. This link is to a copy on an Australian server. This file is not to be downloaded or read if you don’t live in Australia, because that would be double plus ungood thoughtcrime.