Tomfoolery in Earnest

in Playing the Fool

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226473154
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226473178 | DOI:
Tomfoolery in Earnest

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In Sir Thomas More's Utopia, irony and satire are muted. Raphael Hythloday's actions, pronouncements, and reports move in opposing directions, but so do the evasive More's. Contradictions and tensions are embedded not only in Raphael's character and life story, but also in his account of Utopian practices and beliefs. More's text repeatedly invites readers to distance themselves from every argument and alleged fact that it presents. This insistent suggestion could be taken as expressive of his semi-concealed positive teaching, and this teaching gently directs readers back to none other than Plato. The daily lives of Utopians are not devoid of rations of cheer — even of tomfoolery. Readers are invited to think of Utopia as being both healthy and philosophical. More seems to ask whether health, as Hythloday stipulates it, is not gained at appalling costs.

Keywords: Thomas More; Utopia; health; satire; irony; Plato; tomfoolery; Raphael Hythloday

Chapter.  4266 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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