In casual use a utopia is a paradise, a perfect place, an ideal society. People who reflect on the history of literary representations of utopias starting with Plato's Republic, and on attempts to put them into practice, will think of the word as referring more narrowly to the conception of a perfect place before which real human arrangements inevitably fall short. Readers of Sir Thomas More's Utopia (1516) will find the contrast between ideality and reality formulated still more sharply. The etymological roots of the word that More coined suggest that Utopia is both a "good place" and "no place," simultaneously ideal and nonexistent. Ithaca uses the word in this third, most stringent sense, directing readers to More's fiction by capitalizing it.

JH 2022

Woodcut illustration for 1516 edition of Thomas More's Utopia.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Similar illustration used in the 1518 edition, by Ambrosius Holbein.
Source: www.britannica.com.