News from Nowhere
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News from Nowhere

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  529 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Written in 1890, at the close of William Morris�s most intense period of political activism, News from Nowhere is a compelling articulation of his mature views on art, work, community, family, and the nature and structure of the ideal society. A utopian narrative of a future society, it is also an immensely entertaining novel. This Broadview edition includes a wide varie...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published October 11th 2002 by Broadview Press (first published November 30th 1889)
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Miriam
A Victorian gentleman named Guest is mysteriously transported forward in time to a society less futuristic than one might expect. A utopia of environmental purity, personal freedom, and peace, it is characterized by small communities of rural artisans modeled after Morris' idealized conception of medieval (communal, not feudal) society. There are no nations and no money. Each individual does the work that he or she finds fulfilling, and the products of labor are shared freely. Rather than perfec...more
Keely
I first knew of Morris as the greatest bookbinder of the modern age, a master of textile design who single-handedly rediscovered half a dozen dead arts. But he was also a fantasist, contemporary with Dunsany, and a political thinker.

My search among the many branching roots of Fantasy lead me to pick up this collection, but I must admit this is not what I had in mind by 'fantasy'. Here, Morris gives us a rather bland and didactic rundown of his perfect world, loosely structured around something...more
James
An excellent book, originally written in response to Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, whom William Morris considered to take too much of a statist approach.

Whilst Morris' book is utopian (assuming people will find work pleasurable), it is interesting to note that he ruled out the prospect of non-violent revolution, and so is perhaps less idealistic than Bellamy in this regard (Bellamy believed a peaceful transition of power was possible).

Overall, I think Bellamy's books stand up stronger, ha...more
Werner
Jan 23, 2011 Werner marked it as started-and-not-finished  ·  review of another edition
This isn't an actual review (and I wouldn't do a rating), since I didn't finish the book --just an explanation of why I didn't! When I started the book, I was hoping that Morris' vision of his ideal society as agrarian, pastoral and decentralized (as opposed to the typical Utopian visions of his day) would produce a novel markedly more interesting than the other Utopian fiction of that era. Alas, it didn't; the basic components of his vision are still the same clueless optimism about human perfe...more
Genia Lukin
Even knowing the background on which these books grew, I have something of a tolerant dislike towards old utopias. When I read them, it oftentimes seems to me that the authors, without intending and without really thinking about it, actually wrote a rather frightening dystopia, and thought well of it.

Of course, I am allergic to utopias in general, but I posit that this is not merely a completely subjective occurrence. I shall demonstrate:

Here, for instance, is the perfect communist small-village...more
Mitch
My Interest in this book was mostly academic. I wanted to clearly grasp Morris' perspectives concerning agrarian socialism, gender equality and the like. As a designer, I see his contributions to my occupation are profound, and I wanted to see if his politics would be as well. While the language he uses definitely shows it's age, it still maintains its accessibility. The world he describes, and the characters therein, are lovely though perhaps a little too perfect for my taste. I prefer the impe...more
D. Jason
A meeting takes place of some unnamed individuals, barely described, and hinted to be a meeting of socialists. After two leave the meeting, one laments to the other that if he could just see a glimpse of the future they are working toward, it would make his life much easier.

He goes home, falls asleep, and wakes up somewhere between a hundred and twenty and a hundred and fifty years later. (The book is vague and occasionally contradictory on timeframe. At any rate, events seem to be post-AD 2000....more
Callie
Wish I could give negative stars.
Mel
I am reading incredibly slowly at the moment. The first half of this book went very quickly but then it took another week to finish. It was more of an essay on the ideal state of the world than a novel but it was interesting nonetheless. Everything so focused on the arts and crafs movement, everyone a skilled artisan and everything made to be lovely. Ironically I thought the funniest part of the book was when the were discussing the differences between the sexes and the old man said how they wer...more
Raisu
This is not a review, just a collection of random thoughts that occured to me while reading this book.

-- Morris is known as an early writer of what could be called "high fantasy" of secondary worlds, quests, dragons, and the like. Tolkien was a big fan, and drew inspiration and influence from Morris. News from Nowhere doesn't fit the fantasy mould, and despite the fact that it's supposedly set in the future, I would hesitate to call it science fiction. Atwood mentions it as an example of what sh...more
Simon
This took some diligence in the reading. There is nothing unpleasant in the task, but it lacked engagement. To be honest, reading it became something of a chore.
If I'd read it in my formative years I may have been taken by its promise of an Arcadian future once we have overthrown the oppressors and taken upon ourselves the means of production, communication and exchange. A land where everyone seems to have been designed by a graphic artist and wear clothes that have altogether too much embroider...more
Ping
It took a little while to enter into the more archaic style of writing (of a novel published in 1890), but once I got the hang of it, I could begin to appreciate the panoramic sceneries that the main, first-person character 'Guest' painted of his adventures.

'Chapter XVII: How The Change Came' reads like a historic manifesto in episodic detail, around which sandwiches the mise en scene of the people, landscape, and principles of this land so unusual yet bewitching to Guest. And especially, at the...more
Charlotte
This is a didactic style utopian novel. The protagonist wakes from his dingy, troubled Victorian sleep into a communist utopia. London has gone from a polluted and overcrowded metropolis to a beautiful city on a clear running, fishing river. People live without stress or fear and enjoy whichever task they are undertaking, because they are doing it through choice. No wares are sold or purchased, as everything is made purely because somebody wants to make it. Crops are sowed and harvested, because...more
Norman Cook
And I thought Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy was a bland, didactic socialist utopia! At least Bellamy's arguments were well thought out and seemed at least plausible. Morris's communist utopia is full of half-baked ideas told in the most pedantic manner possible.

In Morris's world, everyone is happy just doing what they want to do, with no explanation as to why anyone would choose to do backbreaking menial tasks, and where mowing wheat is seen as a light, recreational activity.

It’s a world w...more
Kristin
I wanted to like this book. It's a Socialist Utopian vision written in the Victorian era so what's not to like? Unfortunately, a lot. The problem is that it's horribly written, lacking any sense of plot or believability. And then there are the women--the narrator makes clear that women are equal in this society, but goes on to mention that it just so happens that they all love doing housework, cooking and cleaning for the men. They choose it over any other work they might do. Hmmm, I don't think...more
Evelyn
It is something of a miracle that I actually managed to read this all the way through and not give up on it. I know that it's a revered classic and many people love it, but I found it, for the most part, pretty tedious. Morris' fictional story of a happy socialist/communist utopian community could have been so much more, but lacked so many extra details that were sorely needed to really engage the reader with the world that he was trying to build. I also struggled with his ideals of how everyone...more
Dean MacKinnon-Thomson
4/5

One of my favourite reads of all time. Blends Morris chartist and luddite overtones with his admirable arts and crafts socialism.

This may be a tricky little read but wade through it! Offers unique insight to the British socialism which doesn't state-worship and certainly isn't democratic. This utopian literature embodies late 19th century British revolutionary socialism.

This remains relevant to modern discourse, giving readers a chance to understand an anti-big-state socialist rejection of vi...more
Teji
A Marxist Utopia and one of the earliest utopian novels. Not enough thought went into some of the mechanics for me to be able to sufficiently suspend my disbelief (for instance, how exactly is it that the author is able to travel through time? Why, simply by falling asleep [where I come from, those are called dreams:]). However, many of the concepts, ideas, and ideals are thought-provoking, particularly Morrison's handling of the human motivation to work and also his notion that the needs of soc...more
James Rhodes
An enjoyable socialist fantasy. Well written with lots of relevant issues (especially his treatment of education). Quite a slow ride but with pleasant company and lots of interesting sights along the way.
thegift
this is comfort-food, a utopia written in opposition to bellamy’s looking backward sort of corporate future. in this utopia, there is not only technical but actual equality in the value of work pursued. this is a social utopia that could only be imagined before the great war, before hitler’s war, before the concept of human possibility could die in the ovens of nazi germany. so it is interesting to read it on two levels: the utopia presented, the utopia as imagined in what seems a naive and idyl...more
Amber
I took a course on Utopian literature and I always get this book confused with Looking Backwards which makes some since, I guess, as I just learned News was a response to Looking.

This book contains:
- monogamy without official marriage
- no big cities
- socialism all over the place
- creative and pleasurable occupations only
- no standardized education

2 stars, according to what the box tells me when I hover my mouse over it, means that I liked it and that's pretty accurate though I do not anticipate...more
Lucy
This is more like a vision of heaven than of anything that could come to pass on earth. No explanations of how the heaven-on-earth came about other than in the vaguest terms, no practical details except an obsession with wood carving and haymaking, and no suggestion as to how human nature could have changed so profoundly. It just doesn't work as a novel: he should have reworked it as a blueprint of ideals, which is probaby where it started anyway. And how can he poosibly have idealised a world w...more
Judith
An interesting read - got a bit bogged down in all the political stuff in the middle. However really enjoyed the idyllic picture of boating (sculling) up the Thames.

More to the point W Morris comes up with a very interesting version of society, not based on money. And there are some fascinating comparisons with his own world.....

However, have to say I am glad it's just 'fiction' as William Morris 'does away' with Westminster Abbey, of which I am very fond!
Shane
Morris succeeded in his goal. I found myself wishing that I was Guest, riding through the English countryside. At the end of this propaganda piece, I was sad that his vision is just merely a dream. There was no socialist revolution in 1952. In 2012 we still find ourselves in the shackles rabid self interest and competition. In fact, in America, these are god to us. And to think, when the word communism is mentioned, we are conditioned to think of that failed soviet extension of czar-dom. Le sigh...more
Elena
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Klaudia
I love, love, love William Morris for his remarkable textiles...and I think I mainly had his works in mind when reading this. "News From Nowhere" is a fairly imaginative work that takes a reader to a Utopian society based on crafts and luxury. I guess Morris is trying to portray a Socialist Utopia, but it's essentially far fetched, so unrealistic, yet as pretty as Morris's prints.
Joshua
(These notes refer to the free online edition at:
http://www.marxists.org/archive/morri...
)

Charming, but hokey introduction (in the form of a "time-travel novel) to Morris's ideal of Utopian Socialism. By the end it got quite repetitive, but the beginning and middle were interesting enough.

Aaron
An inelegantly written agrarian utopian novel with some very long and unneccesary chapters covering the fictional revolution at the end of the 19th century.

Worth a read for a vision of society where useful, beautiful voluntary work is valued and joy is the status quo.
Pandafeet
I enjoyed this much more than I thought I might. Very nice despite the usual silliness of utopian literature, thought provoking and evocative. Am I now a socialist? No. :) Though if this would be my life under socialism.... yes please! *wafts prettily away* :)
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William Morris was an English architect, furniture and textile designer, artist, writer, socialist and Marxist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. His best-known works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthl...more
More about William Morris...
The Wood Beyond the World News from Nowhere and Other Writings The Well at the World's End The Well At The World's End: Volume I Useful Work versus Useless Toil

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