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MonkeyNotes-Utopia by Sir Thomas More
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LANGUAGE (STYLE)

As mentioned earlier, More wrote Utopia in Latin. The definitive translation by Ralph Robinson is in archaic Latin and inversions abound. Robinson compliments More on his Latin style and calls it "eloquent", "pleasant" and "delectable" (p.3). He is ashamed that the English language is not as graceful as Latin.

James J. Greene and John P. Dolan have edited a modern translation of Utopia and More's other writings (Meridian Classic, New York, 1984). Paul Turner has also translated Utopia into Modern English (Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth, Middlessex, 1965). These translations are more readable. Below are a few examples from each of these editions to reveal the differences in translation:

I. "You be twice deceived, Master More (quote he), first in me, and again in the thing itself. For neither is in me the ability that you force upon me, and if it were never so much, yet in disquieting my own quietness I should nothing further the weal public", (Macmillan, p.22)

"You are quite mistaken, my dear More, first about me and then about the job itself. I am not so highly qualified as you seem to think, and even if I were, I still shouldn't do the slightest good to the community by giving myself a lot of extra work", (Penguin, p. 42).


"Your mistake is twofold, my dear More," he said, "first with regard to me and secondly with regard to the matter at hand. I do not have those qualities that you claim to find in me, and even if I did, the public would not benefit from the sacrifice of my leisure". (Meridian, p. 33)

II. "Every thirty families or farms choose them yearly an officer, which in their old language is called Syphogrant, and by a newer name, the Philarch". (Macmillan, p. 72)

"The population is divided into groups of thirty households, each of which elects as official called a Styward every year. Styward is the Old Utopia title - the modern one is District Controller". (Penguin, p. 74)

"Each year a magistrate is elected by every thirty households and is called a Syphogrant (Philarch in their modern language). (Meridian, p. 56)

III. "In the meantime, as I cannot agree and consent to all things that he said, being else without doubt a man singularly well learned and also in all worldly matter exactly and profoundly experienced, so must I needs confess and grant that many things be in the Utopia weal public which in our cities I may rather wish for than hope for". (Macmillan, p. 1471)

"In the meantime I cannot agree with everything that he said, for all his undoubted learning and experience. But I freely admit that there are many features of the Utopia Republic which I should like -- though I hardly expect -- to see adopted in Europe". (Penguin, p.132)

"In the meantime I must continue to hold my reservations concerning what he had to say. Yet I must admit that he is trustworthy as well as erudite and experienced. I readily admit that there is much in the Utopia commonwealth that I wish rather than expect to see realized in the cities of our world". (Meridian, p.96)

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