The thoughts, hopes, and dreams of mankind shape the history we create. In utopian literature, writers and philosophers extend these human aspirations to fictional ideal states, making these writings an excellent reflection of the philosophies, social and political ideals, and literary expressions of any given era.
Despite its importance as a literary genre, utopian literature has been largely neglected by scholars for two major reasons:
Utopian Literature, Pre-1900 Imprints brings together 462 rare utopian titles covering the 16th through the 19th centuries, providing scholars with research opportunities into Western philosophy, social and political history, and literature. This important collection reflects the marked changes in focus and interest that have appeared in utopian writings over time and opens avenues for intensive study such as:
Spanning the depth and breadth of contemporary utopian thought over these four centuries, the collection includes utopian classics, imprints from the 16th through 19th centuries, a broad spectrum of foreign-language titles, rare early editions, and titles that are lesser known but nonetheless significant for serious research.
The titles in this collection come from the holdings of the Rare Books Room of the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University and the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of the Lewis Pattee Library at Pennsylvania State University. Material was selected from three authoritative bibliographies familiar to librarians and researchers:
The earliest available edition of each title was filmed, making this collection a valuable research tool and an important international library of important titles in English, French, Italian, Latin, German, Spanish, Arabic, and other languages. The collection is divided into three separate series, each of which spans a distinct period to facilitate time-specific research.