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Inventing Utopia: The Case of Early Modern France

Scholar, Richard



Cathy Shrank

Phil Withington


Inventing Utopia in early modern France invariably meant, in some way or other, translating the text. This was a complex process activating the full range of meanings that French in the period lent to the verb traduire: it involved transportation, appropriation, and transformation. French translators, starting with Jean Le Blond in 1550, made Thomas More’s Latin text available to readers of their native language and thus imported intellectual goods from the dominant international language of learning to the fledgling vernacular of an emerging European nation-state. They viewed this work of importation not only as a contribution to the linguistic enrichment of French, but as part of a broader cultural transfer of learning and other forms of ‘soft power’ (translatio studii) to accompany the movement of imperial power (translatio imperii) westwards, to Paris. Their work invariably brought the text across marked boundaries – of political geography, confessional allegiance, and genre – and relocated it in new settings. At times, as we shall see, it invented Utopia anew.


Scholar, R. (2023). Inventing Utopia: The Case of Early Modern France. In C. Shrank, & P. Withington (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Thomas More’s Utopia. Oxford University Press

Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 30, 2023
Publication Date Nov 30, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 1, 2025
Publisher Oxford University Press
Book Title The Oxford Handbook of Thomas More’s Utopia
ISBN 9780198881018
Public URL
Publisher URL


This file is under embargo until Dec 1, 2025 due to copyright restrictions.

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