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Religion in Utopia

From More to the Enlightenment

Herausgegeben von Iveta Nakládalová

Academia,  2013, 213 Seiten, broschiert

ISBN 978-3-89665-599-8

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The present collection brings together some of the papers presented at the international congress Religión en Utopía (Religion in Utopia), held at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, under the auspices of the Instituto de Estudios Clásicos sobre la Sociedad y la Política 'Lucio Anneo Séneca' and Seminario de poética del Renacimiento of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. The aim of the conference was to analyse religion in Utopia, a topic that cannot be avoided when interpreting the genre, as well as the subject of countless controversies.

The studies included in this volume examine different aspects of religion in pre-Enlightenment Utopia, reflecting the breadth and thematic richness of the religious question in utopian space.

Javier García Pinilla's paper concentrates on the Spanish sixteenth century, a period in which utopian texts are traditionally regarded as being absent, with the exception of isolated episodes inserted in works of another nature (the exemplum of the 'Villano del Danubio', included by Fray Antonio de Guevara in his Relox de príncipes; King Polydorus's tale in Alfonso de Valdés's Diálogo de Mercurio y Carón and Juan de Maldonado's Somnium). García Pinilla refers to these minor texts, but at the same time demonstrates the existence of an authentic, unpublished utopia, the anonymous Regimiento de Príncipes, which he examines in great detail. He shows that sixteenth century utopian writings in Castile are clearly connected to reformist ideals, some Erasmian, and others undeniably dissident in nature.
Marie-Luce Demonet studies the work of François Rabelais for traces of utopian (and dystopian) thought. She examines the way the idea of utopia can manifest itself as the desire for retreat, driven by the dialectical relationship between action and contemplation. She reviews the biographical sources of this utopian nostalgia (as well as its topographical referents) and its transformation in Rabelaisian thought.
Elaine C. Sartorelli sets out the utopian elements of the Radical Reformation, also referred to as restitutio. She explains that this differs from the Reformation in the strict sense of the term and is closer to popular currents of medieval prophetism, from which it takes its belief in the Millennium. Its millenarian conceptions (which determine its view of history and the development of the ecclesiastical institutions) are in fact what most separate the Radical Reformation from traditional Christianity. Sartorelli studies the specific case of Miguel Servet's masterpiece, the Christianismi Restitutio, and reviews the fundamental attributes of this restitutionist model of utopia.
Carlos Eduardo Ornelas Berriel's contribution studies religion in Campanella's thought. He maintains that Campanella's ambitious political project ?already expounded in the Commentarii sulla monarchia de' Cristiani (1593) and in the Discorsi del governo ecclesiatico (1594) is based on the universalist premise that the Christian world ought to be subject to one sovereign who exercises earthly powers and also a priestly function. His desire to reconstruct the authority of the Church is particularly apparent in the City of the Sun (1602). Berriel's examination of this utopian story focuses attention on the concept of natural religion and Campanella's hope of reconciling reason and faith by means of the project of the ideal polis.
Ana Cláudia Romano Ribeiro includes the idea of Paradise among the essential concepts underpinning the utopian imaginary. She analyses the representation of Paradise in Terra austral conhecida (1676), the utopian text by Gabriel de Foigny, conceived as a parody of the story of Genesis. She demonstrates that Foigny's critique of religious institutions reflects the principles of the initial phase of the Reformation, and is primarily concerned with the question of the believer's direct contact with God, which is a relationship that is able to dispense with the Church as intermediary.
The aim of the article by Yvone Greis is to analyse chapter XXIV of Barthélemy Aneau's Alector: histoire fabuleuse, published in 1560. Greis sets out to show how the religious dimension of the text is conveyed through the character of the priest, Croniel, the description of the temple and the forms of worship of the citizens of Orbe, and how the relationship between utopia and religion is structured.
Fátima Vieira explores the view of religion and the family in utopian literature of the seventeenth century, a period of great political tensions that gave rise to new proposals for social organization. She states that two divergent models of religious radicalism, involving different attitudes towards women, were expressed in the utopian texts of the time. Vieira analyses these utopian stories in detail and the way in which they rewrite (as well as restate) the traditional attributes of woman in the family and society.
Iveta Nakládalová invites the reader to reflect upon the spiritual dimension of the utopian genre. The objective of her article is, in the first place, to stress the utopian drive, that is, the immanent impulse that makes utopia the repository of longings for a better society, although her particular aim is to demonstrate its numinous nature -also manifest in its religious attributes– nourished by the desire to transcend the everyday order of reality. Utopia, in her opinion, enshrines the search for secular, as well as spiritual perfection; from this it follows that the alleged absence of the metaphysical dimension from the ideal city should be re-examined.