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News from Nowhere and Other Writings

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  679 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Poet, pattern-designer, environmentalist and maker of fine books, William Morris (1834-96) was also a committed socialist and visionary writer, obsessively concerned with the struggle to achieve a perfect society on earth. News From Nowhere, one of the most significant English works on the theme of utopia, is the tale of William Guest, a Victorian who wakes one morning to ...more
Paperback, 430 pages
Published 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1890)
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3.48  · 
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 ·  679 ratings  ·  53 reviews


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J.G. Keely
There is something I mistrust in a man who hates his own time, who sees in it only folly and wrong-headedness, and who lives in a dreamed-of world in his head, a world of he has invented from the Glorious Past—and which he expects in the Glorious Future to come—but which never actually existed, and never will.

Every period has had its share of ignorance, of brutality, of waste, and of mismanagement. History is vivid with error. So, when a man looks at his own time and declares it worthless, sayi
...more
Kyle  Tresnan
Oct 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
This might actually be the stupidest book I've ever read.

News from Nowhere is about a socialist utopia from the future. That's not why it's stupid. I don't hate this book because I'm kind of person who says things like "OBAMA'S A SOCIALIST AND HE'S RUINING THE COUNTRY." I'm all right with socialism. Socialism is pretty cool.

News from Nowhere pretends to be a novel, but really it's just William Morris blabbing about what his ideal socialist state will be like. Not should be like. Morris--as far
...more
James Giddings
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I go back to this book "News from Nowhere, or an Epoch of Rest", again and again to remember how the world might be if sanity prevailed. The book was set in 1950 in a world where a socialist-anarchist revolution had taken place in the 19th century. It presupposes a source of clean energy has been discovered, and that people choose their productive and creative work based on what they love rather than the disasters they fear. The book is the inspiration for Leon Rosselson's song "Bringing the New ...more
Indah
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-uni, classics
Got to love some fictional politics
Mariana Lis
This is one of the best editions of "News from Nowhere" in my opinion, and that only on Clive Wilmer's account. His introduction to Morris' life, work and thought was both insightful and informative, thoroughly unbiased and very well-documented.

As William Morris himself said it, the only “safe way of reading an utopia is to consider it as the expression of the temperament of its author” (see his review of Bellamy’s “Looking Backward”).

Yes, Morris was a romantic and a dreamer, but he was also, in
...more
Michele
Aug 16, 2008 rated it liked it
I first read this book years ago in a Utopian lit class (really fabulous class with a great teacher), so I remembered some of it, but as usual, my leaky memory meant that a second read through revealed far more stuff than the first time around.

One thing I'd forgotten that I found interesting this time was the construction of the narrative so that the book is very specifically written about 'a friend' and isn't the narrator's experience directly. Since the book takes the form of a dream anyway, I
...more
Kelly
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
A description of the capitalist past from a socialist future: "Why, then, since they had forced themselves to stagger along under this horrible burden of unnecessary production, it became impossible for them to look upon labor and its results from any other point of view than one -- to wit, the ceaseless endeavor to expend the least possible amount of labor on any article made, and yet at the same time to make as many articles as possible. To this "cheapening of production", as it was called, ev ...more
Josh
Pretty good, as far as 19th Century socialist utopian fiction is concerned.

It's greatest virtue is that the process whereby Communism arrives isn't by virtue of benevolence on the part of the capitalist class, as in Bellamy's Looking Backwards, but rather through violent, class struggle and upheavals of the state apparatus. This adds an element of realism to Morris's vision, which is lacking in so much of the genre. It is also a point, which Morris had given a lot of thought to and is probably t
...more
Ian
Sep 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
A Communist Utopian fantasy, written in the depths of the Victorian age when the gulf between the rich and poor was probably as wide as it ever has been. Morris imagines a future of around 2013 when government, police, aristocracy, mass production, money and crime have fallen out of use, education is optional, slums have been cleared, London has been reforested and arts and crafts reign supreme.
Some of Morris' concepts are naïve, others just plain daft. In under 150 years, all envy, malice, gree
...more
Hal
Aug 31, 2007 rated it liked it
An interesting take on the future - Morris' view of what the world might be like in a hundred years, Utopian-style story telling mixed with a lot of philosophical dabate. Deep Reading. Hey, I should add that category to my bookshelves...
Rachel
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Still love it - staggering how many bells it still rings in 2014.
Usacnnnews
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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Peter
Jul 24, 2017 is currently reading it
hmm, so the conversations about the nature of multiplication on p31 need to take place at,in an appropriate setting.

It's rather disorientating to read passages such as "I found myself saying, almost against my will, 'How old is it?'
'Oh, not very old,' he said; 'it was built, or at least opened, in 2003. There used to be a rather plain timber bridge before then." in a book whose vernacular is very obviously late-nineteenth century. It seems possible to read chapters 1-5 of News from Nowhere and f
...more
Owain
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Has some interesting things to say about the ‘vicious circle’ that is mass production, whereby the global market creates ‘artificial necessities’ simply to drive ongoing demand for unnecessary, mass-produced goods. But, other than the section about the uprising that brought about the utopia he describes, this lacks any narrative drive and is quite dull in places. Also, there is a running thread of barely contained lust for various comely women - Morris emerges as a bit of an embarrassing old per ...more
Lera Kotsyuba
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Utopian text about an imagined future without capitalism, with a sharing-based economy, love of labour, environmentalism, in an idyllic pastoral setting. While failing to engage with issues of race, gender, and the history of colonialism, it's a great beginner text about socialism, and can be viewed as an early scifi novel.
Daniel Klawitter
"I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few."

"A man no more needs an elaborate system of government, with its army, navy, and police, to force him to give way to the will of the majority of his equals, than he wants a similar machinery to make him understand that his head and a stone wall cannot occupy the same space at the same moment."
Heather
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I skipped past a good chunk in the middle. Couldn't get invested.
Taylor Gillies
Read 'News from Nowhere' and 'useful work versus useless toil'
Suzammah
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
It's a frustrating utopia - and not too wonderfully written - but interesting to consider.

A few specifics that amused or interested me:

On Oxford and Cambridge as places of learning: 'They...were the breeding places of a peculiar class of parasites, who called themselves cultivated people; they were indeed cynical enough... The rich middle classes (they had no relation with the working classes) treated them with the kind of contemptuous toleration with which a mediaeval baron treated his jester,
...more
Shahryar
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-list
Do not be too quick to dismiss Morris's speculation as woefully inaccurate. Yes, his "future" more resembles a mythical past than anything else, but to fault him too strongly for that misses the point. His object was less to prognosticate than to urge. Jules Verne's "Paris in the 20th Century" is an example of a 19th Century premonition of how 19th Century trends WOULD be extrapolated into the future; "News from Nowhere" deals in how those trends COULD be contravened. The shape this imagined uto ...more
Marne Wilson
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
The unnamed narrator goes to sleep in 1890 London after attending a socialist meeting and wakes up in the same room hundreds of years in the future. While he was sleeping, Britain has been transformed into a utopia, where everybody is free to do exactly as he or she pleases but most people, fortunately, like to do lots and lots of hard work. Most people have taken to living simple yet comfortable lives in the country, often in semi-communal situations. People take real pride in crafting beautifu ...more
Josh
Pretty good, as far as 19th Century socialist utopian fiction is concerned.

It's greatest virtue is that the process whereby Communism arrives isn't by virtue of benevolence on the part of the capitalist class, as in Bellamy's Looking Backwards, but rather through violent, class struggle and upheavals of the state apparatus. This adds an element of realism to Morris's vision, which is lacking in so much of the genre. It is also a point, which Morris had given a lot of thought to and is probably t
...more
Bart Everson
Now here is a cheerful tale. Morris envisions a future in which there is no state. Total anarchy? Yes, but not total chaos. People keep track of what needs to be done, so there is organization. But no elite class or police force makes them do the work. They work because they are free to do what they want, and the most satisfying thing, according to Morris, is work. I see his point.

Morris' communism is also appealing. Like the guardians of Plato's Republic , or the citizens of More's Utopia ,
...more
Allie
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part manifesto part future history, as opposed to a novel as such (and there is a dearth of character/plot-driven fiction set in socialist societies that needs to be filled... the only actually good example of such a story that I can think of is The Dispossessed). But the future history is plausible and interesting to read, and the manifesto has some interesting ideas sadly neglected in modern socialist discourse, for example on geographical reform. Unfortunately, other aspects of the manifesto ...more
Kate Bradley
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Morris may have worn a Marxist badge in his public life, but this utopia seems more the result of his love for Ruskin and Carlyle than his admiration of Marx, and so it's essentially backward-looking in its ideology. The pastoral society it depicts is a medieval, feudal community (complete with full costume) where everyone is a craftsman, free to pursue whatever forms of art he prefers. Everyone lives to at least 100 and the women stay pretty forever. They don't have any machines and live in nic ...more
Dawn Halpern lewis
An idealistic view of a future in a Utopian society. It was refreshing to read about William Morris' political ideas, which were very radical both for his times and would still be considered such today. There is something touching about his naivete. But sadly tragic. It reminded me of dialogues of Plato at times and often I wished that the narrator could allow us to believe he never had to accept the reality and lived the Utopian dream instead. I would have liked to have known such a world throu ...more
Jamie
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
A great introduction to the legendary character that is Morris, most of all I enjoyed reading about him and his life. A genuinely interesting bloke, a genuinely interesting life riddled with many genuine achievements. News from Nowhere will not rank as my favourite book of all time but is a genuinely interesting vision of socialism, the language is often great and it is also a great exploration of the man's psyche as the 3 main male characters are evidently different aspects of himself. Definite ...more
Craig
Utopia derives from the Greek word for nowhere, a dream in possible settings. Morris' vision is not really post-apocalyptic, but set in a world after a social and political coup, of some sort, has occurred. As with most ideals or idyllic visions, he has what appear to be sincere and honest intentions, but with a community this perfect, it begs the question of what to do with those who rebel and refuse to submit to your ideals? Social contracts sound great on paper, and most may agree and may str ...more
Anna Maria
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: utopia
William Morris wrote News from Nowhere partly in response to Edward Bellamy's utopian novel, Looking Backward, and partly as a criticism of the industrialised, capitalist contemporary society. While Bellamy (and most other socialists in the UK and US at the time) emphasized state control, Morris presents a utopia where everyone is free to do their own thing and where art and work are fused together.

News is basically wish fulfillment for Morris, but as unrealistic as it is, he does an excellent
...more
Othy
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
So far I've only read "News from Nowhere" here, not the "other writings" part, but I must say that I am impressed. I've only read a small bit of Morris' other words, though none of them were outside of a medieval setting, nor did they deal with Morris' socialism. His utopian tale has the usual "progressing onward towards a goal" form, though it is more than a series of interesting sights along the way. Though I disagree with him on many points, I thought his insights into culture, humanity, and ...more
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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