THE STRATEGY OF UTOPIA: A STUDY OF IDEOLOGY AND CONFLICT IN WILLIAM MORRIS' NEWS FROM NOWHERE

ANNE CRANNY-FRANCIS

Abstract


In 1890 William Morris published his utopian romance, News from Nowhere as a serial in the Socialist League newspaper, Common weal. Recently this text has been the subject of articles by, among others, E.P. Thompson (1977), Perry Anderson (1980), John Goode (1971) and Bernard Sharratt (1980). All have attempted to understand Morris' use of the utopian text as propaganda for the socialist movement, and so to challenge views of utopianism as worthless and regressive. Both Thompson and Sharratt agree that Morris used the utopia innovatively to produce functional socialist propaganda· which Thompson (1977:79) called, after French critic Abensour, the 'education of desire'. Although I do not agree entirely with Thompson's argument, my analysis of News from Nowhere as a utopian text supports the Thompson·Sharratt case · that Morris' text, and other utopian texts, can contribute effectively to the critique of capitalist society and the formation of new, revolutionary, social theory.


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