This book address the relationship between utopian and radical thought, particularly in the early modern period, and puts forward alternatives approaches to imagined ‘realities’. Alternative Worlds Imagined, 1500-1700 explores the nature and meaning of radicalism in a traditional society; the necessity of fiction both in rejecting and constructing the status quo; and the circumstances in which radical and utopian fictions appear to become imperative. In particular, it closely examines non-violence in Gerrard Winstanley’s thought; millennialism and utopianism as mutual critiques; form and substance in early modern utopianism/radicalism; Thomas More’s utopian theatre of interests; and James Harrington and the political necessity of narrative fiction. This detailed analysis underpins observations about the longer term historical significance and meaning of both radicalism and utopianism.
About the Author
J. C. Davis is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of East Anglia, UK. His previous publications include Utopia and the Ideal Society (1981), Fear, Myth and History (1986), Oliver Cromwell (2001) and numerous essays on the history of utopian and radical thought. He is currently co-editing Textual Moments in the History of Political Thought (2018) with John Morrow.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction.- 2. Radicalism in a traditional society: The valuation of radical thought in the English Commonwealth, 1649-1660.- 3. Afterword: Reassessing radicalism in a traditional society: two questions.- 4. Conquering the Conquest: the limits of non-violence in Gerrard Winstanley’s thought’.- 5. Formal Utopia/Informal Millennium: the struggle between form and substance as a context for seventeenth-century utopianism.- 6. Against Formality: one aspect of the English Revolution.- 7. Religion and the struggle for freedom in the English Revolution.- 8. Thomas More’s Utopia: sources, legacy and interpretation.- 9. Goodbye to Utopia: Thomas More’s Utopian conclusion.- 10. James Harrington’s utopian radicalism and the narration of an alternative world.- 11. Conclusion