Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Department

English

Abstract

There has been much scholarly investigation regarding Thomas More’s Utopia and Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins, but never into the relationship between the two texts. This thesis attempts to rectify this omission by explicating the influence that the former has on the latter. In order to do so, a brief historical background of each author and the environment in which they lived is offered. While separated through the vast chasm of spatial and temporal context, Percy used More’s work to create a character, develop a landscape, and convey a message for the modern world. He did so by focusing on several of More’s principal themes and inverting them in order to create an equally uncomfortable environment. In Love in the Ruins, Percy highlights the division created by absurdist ideology in contrast to the community created by submission to a tyrannical government in Utopia. This thesis is an investigation of the relationship between the two texts’ treatment of religion, socio-political policy, and signification which reveals a deep structural unity that also seeks to contribute to modern and historical conceptions of the utopian genre. While an exact definition of the genre is difficult to isolate, a working description of utopia is offered by Ruth Levitas and used throughout this thesis. In order to discover the Utopian aspects of these two works, the reader must not focus on how the works fit into the genre, but rather how they inform and contribute to it. With this approach in mind, the author of this thesis attempts to illuminate the connection between the two works so that our modern understanding of them might be enriched.

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