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The relevance of Morris's utopia

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This paper considers the reputation of William Morris's News From Nowhere and its evaluation as a utopia. It argues that there is a discrepancy between scholarly estimations of the book's importance and its treatment as a utopia relevant to socialism. Whilst scholars have for many years almost unanimously praised News From Nowhere as Morris's crowning achievement, most have also attempted to argue that Morris did not intend his work to be used as a serious model for socialism. After reviewing some of the secondary literature and distinguishing between a variety of different interpretations of Morris's work, I suggest that the relevance of News From Nowhere might be assessed by the standards which Morris applied to Thomas More's Utopia. Considering Morris's work in this framework of utopianism, I argue that the relevance of Morris's utopia lies in what Norman Geras has called its “maximum” vision.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1084877042000311590

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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