Perfect Worlds

Utopian Fiction in China and the West

Douwe Fokkema

Perfect Worlds

Douwe Fokkema

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

448 pages | 6 1/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2011
Paper $72.95 ISBN: 9789089643506 Published February 2012 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

Perfect Worlds is an extensive, comparative study of utopian narratives in both the East and the West. Douwe Fokkema provides an elegant argument about the human impulse to imagine new and better worlds, astutely observing that the utopian imagination thrives in the context of secularization. Fokkema also tracks the rise of dystopian narratives, invoking authors as diverse as Margaret Atwood and Lao She, and provides a cogent evaluation of the role of imagined worlds in both Chinese and Euro-American fiction. A shrewd comparison of cultures, as well as a vivid account of cross-cultural influence, this volume is a welcome addition to the scholarly discourse on utopias.


1. Introduction
2. The Utopia of Thomas More
3. From Rational Eutopia to Grotesque Dystopia
4. Interlude: The Island Syndrome from Atlantis to Lanzarote and Penglai
5. Enlightenment Utopias
6. Orientalism: European Writers Searching for Utopia in China
7. Chinese Philosophers and Writers Constructing Their Own Utopias
8. Small-Scale Socialist Experiments, or “The New Jerusalem in Duodecimo”
9. Chernyshevsky’s What is to be Done? and Dostoevsky’s Dystopian Foresight
10. When Socialist Utopianism Meets Politics…
11. Bellamy’s Solidarity and Its Feminist Mirror Image in Herland
12. Chinese Occidentalism: The Nostalgia for a Utopian Past Gives Way to the Idea of Progress
13. H. G. Wells and the Modern Utopia
14. Dystopian Fiction in the Soviet Union, Proletkult and Socialist-Realist Utopianism
15. Mao Zedong’s Utopian Thought and the Post-Mao Imaginative Response
16. Utopias, Dystopias, and Their Hybrid Variants in Europe and America since World War I
17. Concluding Observations

Subject Index
Index of Names
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