"Utopia" has a strong claim to be the most misunderstood book ever written; its name has been hijacked by countless idealistic schemes having little in common with More's own assessment of social possibilities. For although it contributes to a line of argument that can be traced from Plato to Marx, "Utopia" is first and foremost a literary work that appeals to the imagination and seeks to question us rather than to proffer answers.
This study prepares the reader for these challenges, placing the work in the context of early sixteenth-century Europe and the intellectual preoccupations of More's own humanist circle, and clarifying those sources in classical and Christian political thought that provoked his writing.
"Utopia" is presented as a penetrating reflection on political idealism, one that has lost none of its relevance in an age that has witnessed the collapse of Marxists aspirations to social control. Dominic Baker-Smith also surveys the varied critical reception accorded to "Utopia" over the last four centuries, providing an intriguing look at "Utopia's" role in cultural history.