News from Nowhere in the Museum of Literary Interpretations

Authored by: Tony Pinkney

The Routledge Companion to William Morris

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780415347433
eBook ISBN: 9781315229416
Adobe ISBN:


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One of the best things that has been said about Morris’s utopia occurs in Michael Holzman’s 1984 essay on the text, where he argues that ‘The story of the making of News from Nowhere should also give us some material for reflection on the nature of the literary’. 1 ‘Making’ here can in fact mean several different things. It may point to the biographical detail of Morris’s composition of the work across 1890, which also opens out into the question of the different forms in which it was published (as a serial in that year, then as a commercial press book in 1891, and finally as a private press book in 1892). Or the term ‘making’ may point inside rather than outside News from Nowhere and refer to its internal principles of literary organisation, its self-generated textual activity. The wager of Holzman’s remark is that a sufficiently thoughtful engagement with Morris’s utopia, which includes both internal and external features of its ‘making’, will lead not just to a better grasp of the work itself, or even to broader insights into that strange genre of utopia to which it belongs, but, at the highest level of generality, into new thoughts about literature itself, about what it is and how it functions.

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