Utopias

Serious works of analysis in fictional form are often disguised as stories of events that could happen only in “a place that is nowhere” (the meaning of  the word ‘utopia’). Melville covered his great re-presentation of the Christian Gospel, disguised as a whale-fishing tale, with this dissimulation so that undiscerning readers would be led away from Moby Dick‘s serious theological and humanitarian message:

“It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub[-Librarian} appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane. Therefore you must not, in every case at least, take the higgledy-piggledy whale statements, however authentic, in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As touching the ancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, these extracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancing bird’s eye view of what has been promiscuously said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and generations, including our own.”
–Herman Melville’s “EXTRACTS” to Moby Dick (“supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian”)

Utopias in books and films:

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