chapter  18
16 Pages

Religion and the Mental Utopia in Literature

WithMark S. Ferrara

The chapters that make up this book attempt to move utopian studies away from their political, social, and environmental permutations (thoroughly explored over several decades) and instead find focus around the individual. As the title of this chapter suggests, the discussion of the individual and utopia that follows will take place at the intersection of religion and literary studies. The “individuals” that we will be discussing are characters, and some of the literary texts reviewed below neatly fit Lyman Tower Sargent’s influential definition of utopian literature “as species of prose fiction describing in some detail a non-existent society located in time and space” that falls into one of three types: the eutopia (“good place”), dystopia, or utopian satire.1 For Glenn Negley, a utopia is foremost a fictional work (as distinguished from a political tract and dissertation) that describes a particular state or community. Its theme is the political structure of that fictional society.2