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This review is taken from PN Review 34, Volume 10 Number 2, November - December 1983.

RECOVERING UTOPIA Tommaso Campanella, La Citta del Sole: Dialogo Poetico; The City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue, translated by Daniel J. Donno (University of California Press) n.p.

As the first English translation to adhere faithfully to the original Italian, Daniel J. Donno's edition of Campanella's City of the Sun makes a valuable contribution to Renaissance scholarship. For centuries, the definitive version of this work was available only in Latin or in a number of bowdlerised translations censored on account of the strongly heretical, revolutionary and overtly sexual nature of the original. Now, at last, an unexpurgated text of Campanella's best-known work is accessible in English which acknowledges its importance to Utopian literature.

The City of the Sun, subtitled The Idea of a Philosophical Republic, is a corner-stone of Neoplatonic thought and points towards the Rational Enlightenment. The citizens of the republic, known as Solarians, are in pursuit of science and technology, in the wake of Galileo's claims for a heliocentric system. It is strange to find this radically changing world-view combined with a medievalism which celebrates the monastic ideal. At the same time, the Solarians are advocates of reason as a means of warding off the evils of sin and suffering which, they believe, are signs of the world moving in the direction of non-being. In The City of the Sun, sin is regarded as a deficient rather than an efficient cause springing from the lack of power, foresight or will, which leads to the self-annihilation of the sinner.

This analysis of evil may well have been a response to the suffering inflicted on the author. The City of the Sun was ...


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