The word utopia dates back to the homonymous work by Sir Thomas More. It is composed of two Greek words that mean no place and good place and it refers to an ideal place that doesn’t exist.
Thomas More gave origin to a new type of novel, based on the narration of a voyage to an unknown country (usually an island) where everything is perfect and in contrast with the real everyday world.
It was followed by Francis Bacon ‘s book The New Atlantis in 1626.
In the 18th century Jonathan Swift wrote his masterpiece Gulliver’s Travels (1726), a semi utopian novel that describes four types of societies that can’t be defined perfect as all of them reveal negative aspects, hidden under a peaceful and equalitarian surface.
Samuel Butler’s Erewhom (1872), anagram of nowhere, describes a country whose ideals are very different from the Victorian ones, revealing a satire to the age and its policy.
The hidden criticism to the repressive Victorian way of living becomes more and more evident at the beginning of the 20th century with the works by H. G. Wells such as the Time Machine (1895) and Modern Utopia (1905) which mix political concerns with pseudo scientifical and technological topics.
The celebration of the new developing technologies produced a reaction among the writers that tried to stress the evil of mechanicism and its thread to man. A new trend began: the antiutopia or dystopia fiction which describes places apparently democratic and civilised, but that are, as a matter of fact, nightmarish and frightening.
The most famous examples of this sort of novels are Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley and Animal Farm (1946) and 1984 (1948) by George Orwell.
WilliamGolding’s Lord of the Flies (1954) adds to these themes a fearful pessimism towards the future and a lack of faith into the new generations.