Utopias and the Millennium

Utopias and the Millennium, London, Reaktion Books, 1993, pp. 164.
edited by Krishan Kumar and Stephen Bann
with essays by Louis Marin, J. C. Davis, Louis James, Gregory Claeys, Krishan Kumar, Vita Fortunati, David Ayers, Jan Relf and John O'Neil.

Utopia has always had a close, though ambivalent, relationship with religious millennialism. This relationship was probably at its most intense in the seventeenth century, the time of the Eglish Civil War; in subsequent centuries the two concepts often pulled against each other without, however, ever fully breaking the tie. Even when utopia aspired to secularism - as at the time of the French Revolution, or in nineteenth-century socialism - it continued to turn to millennial forms to recharge its energies.

The essays in this book explore aspects of this relationship. Socme investigate the role of utopianism and millennialism in the debates of the early modern period concerning human perfectability. Others consider the efforts of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution to free utopia from its religious entanglement. A number of contributors reflect upon the apparent failure of the modern Communist utopia, or note the reappearance of apocalyptic themes in recent fiction and social theory, while others draw on the contributions of feminism and ecology. As the twentieth century draws to an end, it seems that utopia and the mellennium are once more locked in an uneasy embrace.