More from the archives: this time, it’s… “More”

Still going through my archives. Here’s the intro to a 5k piece I wrote for my Master’s classes. It’s a continuation, a lost chapter, if you will, of Saint Sir Thomas More‘s classic novel: Utopia.

saint sir thomas more

For the record, I really think I nailed the tone and style, and it got a pretty nice markup, as well.

Yeah, this one is for the more literary-minded out there, lol. Definitely not for everybody.

 



Prologue:

In the year 1516, Sir Thomas More published a work commonly referred to by the name of its chief subject, the island nation “Utopia.” Its ending, with its hints of further discussion by Raphael Hythloday [who had taken it upon himself to expound upon the virtues and advantages provided in such a State], had never been published—or, indeed, even known about—until it was recently discovered in a cache of documents in the Chancellor’s archive. It is unclear why More chose not to include this chapter in his original publication, or even if this chapter had been composed at that time or been written at a later date. Regardless, it is presented here as confirmation of the author’s vision of the completion of his work.

“The Hythloday Diaries”

I suppose that I should not have been surprised when Raphael excused himself after dinner, looking none too well, as if the very act of recounting the virtues of Utopia had sucked the life from his bones. As Peter and I retired to the porch with our brandy, Raphael gave us a quick nod and moved toward the lounge.

“What did you think of Raphael’s tale?” Peter asked.

I shook my head. “I had wanted to continue our discussion concerning his time on that seemingly perfect isle, but I suppose that it must wait until the morning.”

“You don’t think he was really there, do you?”

“Why? Has he given you cause to doubt him in the past?”

“Well, he has been known to enhance a story in the telling from time to time, I’ll admit. But in this instance, well, it seems a bit extreme, even for him. I suppose that it’s basically true. Why would he make it up?”

I nodded in agreement. “Quite right. Why, indeed?”

Peter and I slowly finished our brandy and spoke of meaningless things: politics, business, and other gentlemanly gossip. Finally, the topic turned again to Raphael.

“Still,” Peter said, “he didn’t look too well after dinner, did he?”

“No, he didn’t. I suppose we should check on him?”

“Quite. Maybe arrange a lunch date for tomorrow when you can continue your investigation into Utopia.”

Taking leave of my guests, Peter and I moved to find where Raphael had taken his ease. My housemaid pointed us to a small lounge where Raphael had said he was going to lie down for a few minutes. That had been over an hour ago.

We entered to see Raphael’s form reclined in a chair in front of the fire, chin to his chest. Moving across the room, I touched his shoulder lightly and whispered his name. When there was no response, tried again.

“Raphael, it’s Thomas,” I said, shaking his shoulder.

A small, leather-bound volume slipped from Raphael’s hand and onto the floor.

“Sir Thomas,” Peter began, but I already knew. Placing my cheek at Raphael’s face, I felt no stirring of air.

“He’s dead,” was all I could think to say.

Peter nodded, and moved quickly to the door and gave orders to the butler to fetch a doctor. As he did so, I bent down and retrieved the fallen book.

“It’s a journal,” I said, glancing quickly at its contents. “It’s Raphael’s.”

Footsteps alerted me to someone’s approach, and I quickly put the journal into my coat pocket to examine later. A word on the first page had caught my eye: Utopia.

*****

Later, the physician having come and confirmed what we already knew—that Raphael was dead—and having removed him to a proper place so that his family might come for him, I stole away to my study and pulled the leather book from my pocket and, my hands shaking, opened it.

January 15, 1504

            I have now spent nearly 2 weeks on this amazing island the inhabitants call Utopia. Having wished my good captain a hearty farewell just after the new year, I have decided to record my travels in this land, for in only the last fortnight I have seen and heard things I once thought possible only in man’s dreams. With luck, these scribblings will become the basis for Princes in Europe to elevate their lands and their peoples to heights hitherto considered impossible.

            I will attempt to compose these notes as much as a record for myself as for my fellows back in Europe. I do not look forward to the task of compiling these annotations into some coherent text, but neither will I shirk it.

            January 17, 1504

            A wonderful day today. I was granted permission to travel across the land unhindered. While this may seem a bit unusual, the receipt of travel papers in so short a time is unimaginable, even in so well-organized a place as this. The only restriction on my travels is that I must spend at least one day of my visit to each township in teaching. The subject of instruction is left to me, but it is astonishing that so wonderful a task as teaching would be considered a requirement for any allowance or permission. Wonderful! Two days from now I will reach my first classroom, and both student and teacher will I be. I daresay that one day will scarcely be long enough to accomplish all that I wish. I only hope that my Utopian travel companions will not find themselves bored of me after what stands to be months, if not years, of travel and learning.



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Cheers, everyone!

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