Utopian texts

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Early modern Hispanic utopian texts

There are not so many works with elements we can identify as utopian. Some of them will be listed below with their description.

The villain of the Danube

By Antonio de Guevara (1480-1545) in The golden book of Marcus Aurelius (1528), chapters XXXI-XXXII (LINK to text)

It tells the story of a peasant from Germania who comes before the emperor Marcus Aurelius to complain about the terrible situation his people are facing due to the Roman rule, especially by their severity and rapacity. At this point of the story some utopian features are highlighted, since the Villain remembers the old and simple lifestyle they had before invaders from far lands arrived, which was better than that one they are living now.

King Polidoro

By Alfonso de Valdés (ca. 1490-1532), in Dialogue of Mercury and Charon (1528), book two (LINK to text)

Having passed from death to eternal life recently, king Polidoro tells Mercury and Charon how he turned from being a mediocre and disappointing king, like others from his time, into a prosperity blessing to his people. The depiction of Polidoro’s government is between More’s Utopia and Erasmus’ The education of a Christian prince. Polidoro’s spiritual conversion means the origin of his kingdom’s happiness. Polidoro’s personal transformation, which cannot be separated from his public role, brings along with it his kingdom’s transformation. This event has some excellent consequences, as Erasmus says, “the way a prince is, the same the kingdom”.

Dreams of travel to the Moon and America

By Juan Maldonado (1485-1554) in Somnium (1532), published in Maldonati quaedam opuscula nunc primum in lucem edita, 1541 (LINK to 1549’s edition)

During a dream, Maldonado travels to the Moon, echoing Somnium Scipionis. There he is taken to a lunar city, whose houses around the square are identical and symmetrical. The building is exceptional, with fine materials which remind the New Jerusalem in the Apocalypse, and with an urban plan very common in utopian writings. Temple’s central location and its wonderful execution stand out. It describes the courtship between the king and the queen in detail, which surprises him a lot. He finally comes back to the Earth, to a city of America, where he talks to locals who are Christians. Their evangelists, who arrived ten years before, had been killing one to another or had been consumed by libertine. Despite that, faith had been rooted in that place. It is an uncorrupted town which embraces him delightedly, since its inhabitants hope to improve their religious compliance thanks to this visitor. Maldonado visits the church, observes their rites and listens to the description of their traditions. He therefore gets transformed after realising that most of those people are models to emulate.

Trip to Turkey

By an unknown author (ca. 1556-1558) (LINK to Dialogyca)

The anonymous dialogue in which Pedro de Urdimalas, Juan de Voto a Dios and Mátalas Callando tell about their experiences in Turkey has been considered an evocation of an idealized Turkey by some scholars. This dreaming vision is very close to an utopia, due to the fact that the story turns around a trip to an unknown place to the intended reader.