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Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Vol. 34, 1992. 197-217.


More's Place in "No Place": The Self-Fashioning Transaction in Utopia

John Freeman

Long the reverenced object of hagiographers, from the humanist saint of William Roper to the socialist martyr of Karl Kautsky, Thomas More is undergoing a second martyrdom at the hands of modern biographers. They have argued for a lack of integration between More's life and its literary productions. The image of the utopian idealist and dreamer is refuted, for instance, by claims that the fury of the polemical works reveals More's "true personality."1 A good deal of these biographers' efforts at de-canonization centers around the critical period during which More wrote Utopia.2 They point to irremediable contradictions between Thomas More, the humanist idealist, and what Stephen Greenblatt labels "Morus," the public servant on an embassy for Henry VIII. In his The Public Career of Thomas More, J. A. Guy portrays More as a sycophantic courtier. Guy argues that More dissembled his intentions to enter court employment even from his dear friend Erasmus. For Guy, More's entry into court service was the culmination of savvy political stagecrafting, "the climax of a progression by which he gained the attention of Henry and Wolsey."3 Focusing on More's activities in the Netherlands during the time of the writing of Utopia, Richard Marius points out that the embassy upon which More had embarked was intended

to increase commerce, especially in wool, and . . . while he penned these immortal lines, he was working hard to add to the wealth of those classes in English society whom Raphael castigates for their heartless greed. . . . Whether More recognized these ironies himself is an unanswerable question, but at least they reveal what we learn from a study of his other works, that when he wrote he built a world he could control and that, like most writers, he did not always take care to make that created world correspond entirely with the world where he had to make his way.4

In his Utopia, Louis Marin concurs that Utopia in its detachment relates "in a different way to the historical and geographic world whose contradictory consciousness produced it."5 Marin even argues that More "erased" himself as the author of the text by pointing at himself as both "a character in his book and, even better, as a historically existing figure, as a real representation" (76). In these critics' estimation, More's place in No Place is by no means assured.

Dfffering with Marius and Marin, I wish to argue that the "created world" of Utopia corresponds very closely to the world in which More had to find his place; in fact, Book I represents both England and More's historical and biographical situations, and Book II offers an allegorization of those terms. Moreover, a central problem for Utopia involves the question of how one authors oneself, how one authorizes oneself to speak. More's perceived lack of an integer vita, marking Utopia itself as a disintegrative text,6 is belied by the offering of the text itself as a discursive space (topos) for transacting the terms of More's self-fashioning. A literary topos in Book II, this topos becomes historically determined with the addition of Book II. Far from being situated nowhere, Utopia represents a transaction of values that link the formation of social identity to the agrarian crisis of More's day. Restoring a sense of place to the literary topos by filling in these agrarian values will demonstrate a greater integration of the "created world" of Utopia with the historical circumstances surrounding its composition. This restored topography will also lead to a fuller understanding of the conflicting elements of More's social identity being played out in Utopia (the various bioi constituting life in the private, communal, and state domains). While the utopian text may not have succeeded in integrating these conflicting bioi in a satisfactory fashion, its two books can be read as a convertibility formula for working them out.

One reason biographers have difficulty placing More in No Place is that the text itself is situated on the very fault line of shifting topographical values. In More's period, the individual is being redefined, particularly in terms of that individual's relationship to the land. As J. H. Hexter has shown,7 More writes a text that plays a sense of personal crisis against the historical backdrop of an England plagued by problems of class divisions and social injustice. Stephen Greenblatt, citing Marin, notes the existence of ruptures in the Utopian text, "ruptures betrayed by subtle inconsistencies and contradictions in topography, economic exchange, the exercise of power," and other factors. Far from "tearing the canvas" of the work (Marin's estimation), such ruptures in Greenblatt's view represent the artist's self-consciousness about fashioning himself in "the presence of those sociohistorical forces to which Utopia

owes its existence."8More's individualism, the place he will occupy in his society, is forged from the conflict of those forces.

In tracing the emergence of the individual in the early Renaissance, Richard Helgerson examines the role of the Renaissance cartographer and asserts that cartography not only served to free the land from royal ownership in diminishing the signs of that royal ownership but also allowed cartographers in their power of representation to gain a growing measure of authorial autonomy. Helgerson maintains that the emergence of the land from royal dominance and the emergence of the individual authorial self are parallel phenomena "deeply implicated in one another." This parallel development begins with "a common term of difference," the royal absolutism from which each is beginning to detach itself. Helgerson maintains that, although neither the land nor the authorial self explicitly rejects this royal absolutism, "they nevertheless edge toward a different sense -- a sense of words and images caught in a complex and mutually self-constituting exchange between individual authors and the land they represent."9 Helgerson proclaims the mapmaker as "novus homo chorographicus," a prophetic being who in his self-asserting, nascent autonomy signals growing challenges to that royal absolutism.

Although Utopia precedes by some one hundred years the period on which Helgerson concentrates, it serves as an interesting early text in evaluating Helgerson's assertions. The ideological differences that arise from the splitting of the island of Utopia from the once historically contingent England are an initial indication of the power of the author to remake the map, to work at the margins of history in reformulating England in an image far different from that envisioned or sanctioned by any historical monarch. A disciple of Vespucci, bringing word of a New World with a new ordering of society, Hythloday offers in his account of Utopia the possibilities of a new vision not only of society but of the individual as well.

A strategy of displacement governs the operations of Book II, the neologism "utopia" expressing a detaching of the land from royal absolutism. Pure escapism, the book inscribes the character of the land in the mythic figure of King Utopus. Utopus -- or Eutopos, "the Good King of the Land" -- has conferred positive value upon the land and its people by breaking the land link and effectively enclosing that land.10 Textually, he exists in the fullness of the letter, enclosed entirely from history in his total self-referencing in the figure of the mythically displaced land of Utopia.

As long as Utopia remains No Place, a merely literary topos in a long tradition of Golden Age lands, Eutopos can operate as a mythic Lycurgus. Autonomous in the purest etymological sense of the word, he is a law 

unto himself. His identity is not contingent upon history, nor is it contingent upon the vagaries and royal prerogatives of a Henry VIII. Indeed, Eutopos serves in many ways as an absolute contrast to the historically contingent figure of Henry VIII. As a point of departure from history, the absolutism of Utopus is benign, in sharp contrast to that exercised by Henry VIII. A ruler who would phase out monarchy in his own land represents a bit of wistful thinking on More's part when we consider the fanatical preoccupation Henry VIII had in providing himself an heir. In establishing the terms of these two forms of royal absolutism, Morus and Raphael define the terms between the restrictive royal absolutism of Henry VIII and the possibilities of self-creation represented by the royal absolutism of Utopus (an absolutism that elevates the individual to his own kingly status). In his More fanciful moments, More actually imagined himself as king of Utopia. At the height of his enthusiasm for Utopia, he confides to Erasmus:

"You have no idea how thrilled I am; I feel so expanded, and I hold my head high. For in my day-dreams I have been marked out by my Utopians to be their king forever; I can see myself now marching along, crowned with a diadem of wheat, very striking in my Franciscan frock, carrying a handful of wheat as my sacred scepter, thronged by a distinguished retinue of Amaurotians, and, with this huge entourage, giving audience to foreign ambassadors and sovereigns; wretched creatures they are, in comparison with us, as they stupidly pride themselves on appearing in childish garb and feminine finery, laced with that despicable gold, and ludicrous in their purple and jewels and other baubles."11

This "fascinating vision" or "dream" is broken up by the light of day, "deposing poor me from my sovereignty." More's only consolation is that "real kingdoms are not much More lasting" (lxxix).

Not only do we witness in this remarkable exaltation a personal dissatisfaction with the royal imperative, but we can also witness the fundamental nature of Utopia, specifically Book II, as the place in which an overreaching individuality is mounted against that royal imperative. In this light, Marie-Claude Rousseau writes of the utopist as "the demiurge of his world and his work, a psychodrama where his dreams are projected."12 The modest symbols of this Utopian kingship, emblems of which Raphael certainly would approve, mark More, at least in this momentary fancy, as sympathetic to the peasant. Expressing a subversive, momentary desire for absolute autonomy, More is the farthest possible from Morus, the court servant; at the same moment, he is closest to Raphael in Hythloday's championing of the oppressed and

his hatred for gold and the trappings of courtly spectacle and excess. In this dream, More does not see himself in the image of the aspiring courtier, trained in the Inns of Court for a career as a royal servant and adviser. The desire projected here, given free play in the utopian field wherein all things are possible, is one in which More can momentarily find a place for himself and his longing for the monastic life (symbolized by the Franciscan frock). This dream marks the autonomizing appeal Utopia had for More in its glorifying of the private individual. More's assurance to Erasmus that his fanciful rise from his "lowly estate to this soaring pinnacle" will not threaten their friendship indicates that his concerns about entering Henry's court and compromising his humanist principles are also scripted into this psychodrama. This vision suggests that elements of the historical More are incorporated in the text, that Raphael embodies impulses in More contradictory to the Morus persona.

What might make one a king in fiction would not necessarily serve to advance one in the More practical world of court politics. The limits to self-fashioning in fiction and imagination were indeed boundless, not so the limitations placed upon self-fashioning in the very real and dangerous world presided over by Henry VIII. Even on its own terms, however, the created world of Utopia reflects the historically contingent circumstances surrounding its composition.

Those critics who see rifts between the created world of Utopia and the life More led fail to recognize that More's text is a More faithful mirror of his life and England's historical circumstances than a superficial investigation reveals. In seeking to situate Utopia in the discursive space between the concept and history, Marin asks a series of provocative questions: "To what reality or to what absent term does it ["utopia"] finally refer? What figure -- fraught with incoherencies of its own -- traverses it? What discursive conclusion opens up as soon as the thesis of historical truth, from whose posture it speaks, is lacking?" (xxi). In posing Morus against Raphael, the historical figure against the mythic figuration, More has hedged his bet. I use the term "hedged" advisedly, for it is the figure of enclosure -- "fraught with incoherencies of its own" -that traverses the text as a constant equation in the self-fashioning transaction. It mediates the conversion of values between the private and the public, between opposing class identities.

The bet that More is hedging is that involving his own self-fashioning, and its broadest values are those represented by the opposing figures of Morus and Raphael. The self-fashioning that must be worked out between the opposing terms of Morus and Raphael points toward class conflict, a conflict between an expropriating class and an expropriated class in which More represents the very middle class that was being defined in this conflict. Morus, the representative of the expropriators of 

land, and Raphael, representative of the dispossessed, cause this topographical discourse to be extended into the narrative structure of the text as their two voices bring the historical notions of improvement and impoverishment into that text.13

If we reexamine the myth of Utopia's founding, for example, we find that in his conquering of the Abraxians, King Utopus acts out of a myth whose plot is very much grounded in a history vexed with the problems as well as the opportunities of enclosure. The "incoherencies" of enclosure expose Eutopos as Outopos in demonstrating just how closely the created world of Utopia is linked to historical contingencies. The "problem" that the text of Utopia seeks to solve is that of enclosure, particularly the large-scale pastoral enclosure occurring in More's day. Lying along a fault line that represents a break in historical continuity occasioned by the irreconcilable programs of large-scale enclosers, small-scale improvers, and subsistence-level farmers, Utopia must mediate the class conflicts that arise from shifts in agrarian values. The myth of Utopia's founding is not at all divorced from the problems of English history; in fact, the king's conquering of the Abraxians is simply the telling and enactment of that history over again, its characters disguised in myth.

The improver, Utopus, is not merely conducting a raid upon a fictional people; he is, in essence, raiding history, for his conquering of the Abraxians allows him to redefine and reshape English history for his own ends. This reworking of history begins with a forcible expropriation of people from their land. While we are not told specifically whether that part of the conquered Utopians who resist are killed or expelled, this initial expropriation of Abraxa sets an obvious precedent and model for the Utopians' spillover colonization of lands outside their territory.

In these seizures of territory, those who refuse to be ordered by the Utopians' laws are driven "out of those bounds which they [the Utopians] have limited and defined for themselves" ( Reneuntes ipsorum legibus uiuere, propellunt his finibus quos sibi ipsi describunt" [ Campbell, 91]; note the initial surveying that has occurred before eviction, a surveying not unlike that preparatory to the evictions of historical enclosure). Like their historical counterparts, the enclosers, the Utopians justify their expropriation of others' lands by arguing their ability to improve them by a fuller utilization than that practiced by the natives. These vanquished people, their rights of landholding extinguished, are the fictional counterparts of England's squatter population evicted by enclosure. Those who do comply join with their conquerors in enclosing the peninsula of Utopia as an island. They, along with the conquering Utopians, become the class of improvers, their historical counterparts.

The plot of Book II thus offers a careful reenactment of English history

in this conquering and evicting of one part of the Abraxians. This is the overt content of Book I, the historical injustice perpetrated against a displaced class. As the problem of Book I, it gets little play here, for the myth of Book II must work toward finding an intermediate term between the displaced yeomanry and the large-scale encloser. To insist too strongly upon the historical identity of any of the players in this mythic reenactment would undermine the myth of improvement so dear to Raphael. Obliquely, the text addresses the problems of vagrancy and idleness by enclosing the wastes of the "New World." As a means of implementing and expanding social control in More's England, enclosures of the unenclosed wastes were advocated, for these wastes were commonly characterized as "nurseries of beggars." Enclosed lands were reputed to breed a More prosperous, better quality citizenry; they also yielded a higher parliamentary subsidy.14 Those who block Utopus's "improvement" are evicted, the counterparts of the historically dispossessed (and their voicelessness in Raphael's account of Utopia's founding corresponds to the voicelessness of their counterparts in history). If we consider the problem of history beyond the confines of Book I, we shall find that this glossing over the evicted Abraxians allows Book II to redefine history not as a conflict between the expropriated and the large-scale encloser but as a collusion between the small-scale improver and the large-scale encloser.

This collusion, constituting the myth of Book II, is essential if the text is to recapture the historical value of improvement for itself. As Rodney Hilton indicates, within the peasantry a split was developing as this peasantry began to separate into "elements with differing economic interests."15 Unlike the "poor and middling peasants" involved in subsistence farming, a wealthier class of entrepreneurial peasants had accumulated both movable and landed property and were increasingly the beneficiaries of any new economic ordering (the improvements which could be had through enclosure, for example). These were what Hilton labels the "upper stratum of the peasantry, benefiting from the crisis in the seigneurial economy" (127). With the impetus of the textile industry, these peasants would play an important role in constituting the class of capitalist farmers that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (127). Hilton closely links the growth of this class, which struck against all forms of seigneurial control, with the emergence of capitalism.

Historically within the English "tribe," a widening separation was occurring between the upper- and lower-strata peasantry, a division very much rooted in the political and economic shifts that occurred in sixteenth-century England. The "wolves" -- large-scale enclosers -- not only expropriated the land of the poorer peasantry -- the sheep -- but

they have also disrupted the orderly historical shift being brought on by the small-scale enclosers. The plans of the large-scale encloser and the small-scale improver are merged in Book II, as the remaining Abraxians are subsumed into one common identity with their conquerors, both henceforward known as Utopians. This merger runs counter to history, for Hilton has shown that the programs of these two groups ran directly counter to one another. In this respect, Utopus raids history twice over, for he both expropriates one element of the peasant class while co-opting the program of another. Most important, this conquering and transformation of the "compliant" element of the Abraxians allow Utopus to wrest the historical value of improvement from the program of the small-scale enclosers and to reinvest it in the large-scale enclosing of Utopia.

Utopus and, by association, Raphael rework historical situations and identities in a fashion that does not bear close scrutiny; indeed, the myth of Utopia is undermined when one converts the values expressed in Book II into those More historically oriented ones of Book I. The myth of Utopia's founding by enclosure risks being exposed if it is not disguised. The expropriation of the Abraxians is thus muted, displaced, and "alienated" in the example of Utopus's conquering of foreign lands. The historical expulsion of peasants from private land by members of the yeomanry and nobility might not seem to equate to the conquest of an alien territory and the expulsion of some part of its people by a king; however, the digging out of the land link, transforming the mythic Abraxian peninsula into a figuration of the English island, reminds us that there is a strong sense of the familiar in the alien. It also marks Book II as a prophetic text in a sense quite contrary to Kautsky celebration of Utopia as a precursor to socialism. The text's transfer of the enclosing function from the levels of yeomanry and nobility to that of the state predicts the link between large-scale Acts of Enclosure and the growth of the modern state.16

The charge of duplicity that Marius brings against More is offset and answered by the double text of Utopia, for Book I provides many keys for reading and deciphering the myth offered in Book II. Indeed, unwound from the historical materials of More's own embassy is another embassy, uniting history and myth, that brings Raphael forth. Raphael argues on behalf of the dispossessed yeoman who appeared many times before More in Chancery court; Hythloday sets forth -- this time quite pointedly and eloquently - the rights of the expropriated. As Richard Sylvester points out in "Si Hythlodaeo Credimus" Hythloday is "both uprooted himself and an uprooter of others. His most urgent pleas for reform bristle with metaphors of deracination and eradication."17 In service to the interests of royalty and the wool merchants, More is

suddenly confronted in the Netherlands with the very spokesperson for those less powerful, competing interests: the dispossessed yeomanry. Contrary to Marius's and Marin's assertions, Thomas More provides a text entirely contingent to history and to his personal circumstances at the time of its composition. Utopia exemplifies Jean Howard's dictum that literary texts do not constitute "monologic, organically unified wholes" but "sites where many voices of culture and many systems of intelligibility interact."18Raphael's curious -- and untenable -- position as a spokesperson for the expropriated and a representative of Utopus, a large-scale encloser, bears witness to the text's rootedness in the history it allegorizes. Morus himself, representing a collusion between monarchy and merchants in an embassy that sought to improve trade equally advantageous to both, offers yet another voice in the text's encoding of dissonant cultural interactions.

The historical contingency of Utopia, a text that uses enclosure both as a theme and as a principle of its own organization, provides a better sense of place for More in his text. It should cause some revision of critical stances that argue that More led a duplicitous and inauthentic life. Stephen Greenblatt, for instance, sees More's life as "nothing less than this: the invention of a disturbingly unfamiliar form of consciousness . . . poised between engagement and detachment" (31). He notes further a distinction between text and "lived reality . . . precisely abrogated by More's mode of existence" (31). Raphael, summoned forth by this rupture between lived reality and self-fashioning, stands between More and the "achieved" identity of Morus, marking within that identity "the signs of its own subversion or loss" (9). As an abrogation of More's mode of existence, Raphael stands in the place of that marginalized existence. Nonetheless, the enclosing of Book II in Book I brings that which is marginal into the enclosure of the text. Critics who emphasize the gaps between the text and lived reality fail to recognize that the two books, taken together, offer a full presentation, if not an integration, of Thomas More. In fact, in hedging the text as a bet between Morus and Raphael, More reveals an authorial intention bent upon confrontation.

If history has not been erased from the text, then it is reasonable to assume that traces of the historical Thomas More yet linger. For Marin, the initial erasure of the author from his book and the attendant gap that opens up thereby are repaired only at the end of the Book 11. Here, Marin indicates, the historical figure of Thomas More reappears "to initiate an ambiguous transition toward the author of the book, to exit the book" (75). Between the two identical signatures, the last of which will reunify narrator and author, Marin sees More's historical identity as having been suspended. Marginalized for the space of the text is the

public identity of " Thomas More, Citizen and Sheriff of the Famous City of Great Britain, London," a representative of the London merchants. This public identity, inscribed at both margins of the text, provides the topical circumstance in which Utopia was composed, for it was as the popular under-sheriff of London that More was called upon by the merchants of the city to travel to the Netherlands to negotiate matters of trade in English wool and Flemish cloth.

The opening lines of Book I, however, point toward the potentially divisive nature of More's embassy as both a representative of the London mercers and as an ambassador from Henry VIII ("The most invincible King of England, Henry the eighth of that name, who is distinguished by all the accomplishments of a model monarch, had certain weighty matters recently in dispute with His Serene Highness, Charles, Prince of Castile," 47). At this time, the interests of king and merchants coincided, but there is a disturbance lying just beneath this officious, laudatory opening to Book I. Indeed, More has struck an uneasy balance here between Ambassador Thomas More and what Russell Ames labels Citizen Thomas More. As Ames indicates in his Citizen Thomas More, the middle class "campaigned" against feudalism as a decaying system, employing the merchants "as its chief economic power and the humanists as its ideological shock troops -- with More active in both groups."19 A member of the Company of London Mercers, their "chosen mouthpiece" sent, as Roper tells us, "at the suite and instaunce of the Englishe marchauntes," More was embarked upon a mission that represented "the interests of all English exporters of wool."20 At this point, at least, More was not a king's man but, as Ames asserts, someone far More "attached to town republican political principles than [to] monarchist principles" (52). That More himself felt an opposition here is a matter of historical record, for he turned down a pension offered him by Henry, feeling that acceptance would cause him to come into a conflict of interest in fulfilling his role of sheriff. As he writes to Erasmus in 1515, "Should any question arise between them and the King about their privileges (as sometimes happens) they might have less confidence in me as a pensioner of the King" (61-62).

At each margin of the text, the reiterated signature of "Citizen and Sheriff" encloses the two identities of Morus and Raphael, hedging in the dialectic they represent. Far from representing an exclusion of biographical detail or an incomplete self-presentation, the text reclaims one part of More's split and marginalized identity in the figure of Raphael, making it part of the self-fashioning transaction that is usually discussed in terms of Morus alone. The narrative splitting of Thomas More between Morus's narration of Book I and Raphael's narration of Book II makes the two appear to be marginal to one another. Upon closer exami

nation, however, a certain convertibility formula exists between the two books as well as between Utopia and the marginalized identity that constitutes its circumambient context.

When we consider the relationship between Morus and Raphael, we find a contradictory pairing in which there is both a sense of identification and denial. Dialectically opposed, there seems to be very little the two can agree upon. More defends service to the state; Raphael shows that "servitude" and "service" are divided from each other by an easily removed prefix ("servias" versus "inservias"). Morus is in the Netherlands representing the wool industry and the interests of enclosers; Raphael appears as the advocate of the threatened yeomanry, offering a stinging attack against those very interests.

Commenting upon the relationship between the two as presented in Book I, critics have spoken of Raphael as More's alter ego, someone radically different from More coming at a critical moment to challenge him. That More fashioned part of Raphael from himself becomes clear when Raphael tells us that he was brought up in the household of John Morton, Thomas More's mentor at the Inns of Court. As the author of Social England indicates, Morton was an unrelenting reformer of the decaying Church, and his influence upon More would be a lasting one:

From him it may well be that More learnt first to view with sympathetic eyes the sorrows of the people, and to speak what was in his mind so boldly and clearly. He belongs half to the past, half to the future: in him the interests of the Middle Ages and those of Tudor times, if not of modern life, seem to find a connecting link.21

This shared biography denotes some of the affinities Raphael bears to More; of course, the More we encounter in Book I -- Morus -- serves as the antithesis to Raphael in reflecting the practical and politically ambitious side of Thomas More. If Morus represents More's tendency toward royal service, then the portrayal of Raphael is a hedge against that bet. The product of four separate voyages to the New World, Raphael cuts a figure in striking contrast to what we can imagine of Morus's own person as the courtly representative that negotiates for English wool merchants. The ambassador, locked in technical and interminable negotiations of international commerce, finds himself in an unexpected, face-to-face encounter with Hythloday, "a man of advanced years, with sunburnt countenance and long beard and cloak hanging carelessly from his shoulder" (49). Indeed, there is no More striking a contrast imaginable than this between Raphael, with his future course already set on the New World, and Thomas More, who, in his embassy to Flanders, represents the new "economic" man being created from the

dissolution of feudalism and the rise of capitalism. And yet, the More Raphael's mythic mask is stripped away, the clearer it becomes that the negotiations undertaken in Utopia represent a crisis that involves all elements of More's self-fashioning.

The sense of crisis to which Utopia is a response represents for More an uncertainty about his place, the role he should play in his society. This sense of dislocation can be expressed in terms of the social identity that modern society has inherited from the Greek city-state. As Hannah Arendt asserts in The Human Condition, the rise of this city-state meant, according to Aristotle, "that man received besides his private life a sort of second life, his bios politikos. Now every citizen belongs to two orders of existence; and there is a sharp distinction in his life between what is his own (idiom) and what is communal (koinon)."22 Arendt catalogs the three ways of life (bioi) that Aristotle thought were the choices allotted to the free man:

the life of enjoying bodily pleasures in which the beautiful, as it is given, is consumed; the life devoted to the matters of the polis, in which excellence produces beautiful deeds, and the life of the philosopher devoted to inquiry into, and contemplation of, things eternal, whose everlasting beauty can neither be brought about through the producing interference of man nor be changed through his consumption of them. (13)

The influence of the first bios occurs in the discussion of pleasure in Book II, in which we are told that the Utopians maintain "that a person would be stupid not to seek pleasure by fair means or foul," the only restriction being that this pleasure should not "interfere with a greater nor . . . follow after a pleasure which would bring pain in retaliation" (163). The influence of the life devoted to matters of the polis, the second bios, is a central concern for Citizen Thomas More as representative of the mercers. The third bios, the life of philosophic contemplation and detachment, is the path advocated by Raphael in his rejection of royal service as a form of servitude. In particular, this second and third bioi define the conflict between Morus and Raphael. As Greenblatt indicates, the vita activa or vita negotiosa is an essential concern in Utopia, where More argues with Raphael about the choice of a detached and philosophic existence versus the choice of a More engaged life devoted to public-political affairs. What is central to this question is how much of one's own life should one preserve in the face of public demands upon one's time and even upon one's very self. To what extent is one a private individual and to what extent a public one? Thomas More tries to

fashion himself amid the counterweights of three different possible fashionings: private, communal, and state.

The presence of these three identities in Utopia suggests a far More complete self-presentation than what is often characterized. Representing a mixture of the private and philosophic bioi, Raphael, as the narrator of Book II, offers More a tempting escape from the world of historical circumstance and political compromise. As Robbin S. Johnson argues, Raphael's disengagement from the political realm is isolative, for "the individual Utopian dreamer . . . tends to withdraw from any socially common cause. He merges his own being into the ideal [thereby turning] all expression inward."23 She finds Raphael's idealism "self-serving." Arendt also notes the limitations of an excessive privatizing and isolating of oneself from the community. The ancients, she argues, stressed "the privative trait of privacy. . . . A man who lived only a private life, who like the slave was not permitted to enter the public realm, or like the barbarian had chosen not to establish such a realm, was not fully human" (38).

It is little wonder that, faced with these two identities of Morus and Raphael, More seems to have insisted on the middle term, of Citizen Thomas More, for he resisted both the extreme detachment of Raphael's elevation of the individual as well as the emptying out of one's private life involved in committing oneself to royal service. The essential problem in Utopia, however, remains one of demarcating the boundary between the private and the public that, for Arendt, signifies "the world itself, in so far as it is common to all of us and distinguished from our privately owned place in it" (52). What is one's own and what part of oneself is public? What boundary should one set around oneself in terms of maximizing what one could achieve in both realms?

In each of these three elements of a self-fashioning, one can find limitations and risks. As Arendt notes, "The rise of the city-state and the public realm occurred at the expense of the private realm of family and household" (29). More felt this opposition, noting at one point that he could remain an ambassador only by starving his family. The problem for More in this period was that of establishing the boundary of his own private sphere while maximizing the benefits to be derived from participating in the larger spheres of communal and state life. This is, of course, an essential concern in Raphael's and Morus's argument about the desirability of public service. Morus argues in behalf of such service, even though it often intrudes upon the private preserve. He invokes Raphael's "generous and truly philosophic spirit" in arguing that he "apply your talent and industry to the public interest, even if it involves some personal disadvantages to yourself" (57).

In Utopia there is an overriding concern with balancing what is private and one's own with what is the public interest ("publicum rem"). The communality stressed in Utopia ("Nature calls all men to help one another to a merrier life," 165) is tempered by an allowance for individuality so long as that individuality does not move the person to further his own advantage to the disadvantage of his neighbors (165). Especially in terms of contracts and laws, Utopia offers a fine resolution of tensions between the private and public spheres, a resolution seemingly unobtainable in the litigious times of More's England:

Therefore they hold that not only ought contracts between private persons to be observed but also public laws for the distribution of vital commodities, that is to say, the matter of pleasure. . . . As long as such laws are not broken, it is prudence to look after your own interests, and to look after those of the public in addition is a mark of devotion. But to deprive others of their pleasure to secure your own, this is surely an injustice. On the contrary, to take away something from yourself and to give it to others is a duty of humanity and kindness which never takes away as much advantage as it brings back. (165)

Here, pleasure itself is viewed as a "commodity" for distribution as the Utopians seek to balance equality of "ownership" with each individual's exercising of a private right. There is a sense of fluidity between private and public; indeed, the boundaries that compose what is private display an open face to the public interest, in the fashion of the Utopian houses that are "permeable" structures in allowing for both private as well as public accessibility. What is private can be easily merged with the public domain in Utopia, a merger and lack of conflict that surely must have appealed to a Thomas More striving to strike a proper balance between the private and the public in his own life.

In working out the proper equation between the public and the private, Arendt does not believe it is accidental "that the whole discussion has eventually turned into an argument about the desirability of or undesirability of privately owned property" (61). The conflict between private property and communal right is, of course, a crucial one for Utopia. Raphael is a strident critic of private property: "When every man aims at absolute ownership of all the property he can get, be there never so great abundance of goods, it is all shared by a handful who leave the rest in poverty" (105). This privatizing of land takes the land out of communal ownership; it separates individuals from the community in freeing them from many of the communal obligations previously situated in the very character of that land. Morus's counterargument to

Raphael -- "Life cannot be satisfactory where all things are common" -emphasizes "the motive of personal gain" as a necessary inducement for making individuals productive and not slothfully dependent upon the industry of others (107). At the root of this conflict is the fact that More's complete self-fashioning into Morus, the public bios, cannot be achieved without retrieving private property from Raphael's condemnation; equally true is that the self-fashioning represented by Raphael cannot be achieved without the total rejection of the public bios that Morus advances.

Greenblatt indicates the topographical basis of this conflict when he states that "private ownership of property is causally linked in Utopia to private ownership of self (what C. B. Macpherson calls 'possessive individualism,'" 38-39). The conflict in Utopia is that the abolition of private property advocated by Raphael is for Morus, a representative of the propertied interests, a threat to that very self he seeks to fashion ("to abolish private property is to render such self-conscious individuality obsolete," Greenblatt, 39). Enclosure, with its asserting of individual rights over communal rights, is at the very heart of More's embassy to the Netherlands. The privatizing of land resulted in the privatizing of individuals, the creation of a middle class whose very identity had been formed through its claim to private ownership of property. This is the class from which Citizen Thomas More had emerged. The class conflict entailed by enclosures becomes personalized in the choices More had to make among these possible bioi. Citizen Thomas More, forming the hedge between a private and enclosed life and a more public and expansive life, must decide upon the costs involved in converting the private into the public (Morus's position) or the public into the private (Raphael's position).

The absolutist positions taken by Raphael and Morus produce the dialectic from which More must work out his place in society. Raphael's freedom from private property -- he very early gave away wealth and possessions in disengaging himself from all familial obligation and expectation -- guarantees him an absolute privacy. The willingness of Morus to surrender personal misgivings in entering court service, to sacrifice what is private for the public good, compromises that very privacy. Here, the surrender of the private ownership of oneself is repaid by improvement, either the improvement gained for oneself or, more idealistically, for the collective state. As Peter Giles argues, the two forms of improvement can be compatible, just as the private gain to be won from his embassy could be compatible with the public good. The advantage of operating between the two domains is argued by Morus himself, for an insider and adviser retains the option of subverting the aims of the ruling order ("What you cannot turn to good you must make as little bad as you can," 101). The problem with working

as a private individual within the margins of the dominant ideology is that More runs the risk of being subverted himself, deprived (de-privatus) of that private ownership of himself by the co-optive force of that ideology. This is the direction in which Morus heads him. Indeed, in his final justification of royal absolutism, Morus points toward a total refunding of the common (and private) good in the deifying adulation that commoners paid to that royalty, a transaction that is negated by the Utopians' moneyless economy and communal life.

For Thomas More, maintaining a right to his private opinion came into conflict with Henry VIII's idea of what was "owned" by the state. We can find even in as early a text as Utopia a desire to strike a proper balance between what is private and what is public. Enclosure, of course, is the very embodying principle of this conflict. In "The Property Rights Paradigm," Armen A. Alchian and Harold Demsetz point toward this commingling of property rights and privacy in arguing that "what is owned are rights to use resources, including one's body and mind, and these rights are always circumscribed, often by the prohibition of certain activities."24 The state, for instance, can regulate and limit a person's right to own certain ideas and opinions even to the point of violating the most private preserves, the home and the individual's very person.

While Citizen Thomas More might retain some independence in the conflicts between the propertied interests and the expropriated, Morus the royal appointee would undoubtedly find himself at times personally compromised by this public identity. Still, the publication of Utopia, particularly the Dialogue of Counsel, suggests an optimism about freely expressing one's ideas at Henry's court. That More also includes a healthy dose of Raphael's skepticism about court service demonstrates a desire on More's part to weigh carefully the risks and rewards of courtly service against the security and detachment offered by Raphael. Even though Morus argues in such a way as to emphasize what the individual could accomplish in the court, the truth was that Henry VIII had already begun to shape humanists like More to his own ends, as ideologists for the court in terms of influencing public opinion. As Kautsky notes, no bureaucracy had yet been formed for carrying on such vital functions.25 Thus, as Morus, More faced the very real prospect of being an instrument of public policy shaped to the strong-willed Henry's ends. As a spokesperson for that very class that was being expropriated,, Raphael threatens More's self-fashioning as Morus. As a representative of Utopus," however, Raphael also serves as a reminder that More cannot seek his place in No Place, for there is ultimately no escape from historical contingency and the conflicting choices to be found there. To be expropriated, to be removed from one's own proper sense of oneself, is a conflict of both a personal and a historically agrarian nature in Utopia.

The working out of a place for oneself, the making of a place for oneself, is the underlying theme of the Dialogue of Counsel in Book I. More's negotiation of his place in society is ultimately traceable to the landed values reflected in the agrarian crisis from which Utopia has risen. Raphael and Utopus reflect the ironies of finding a place, ironies that Marius felt were excluded from the text. On the contrary, More's place in No Place can never be fixed beyond the land surveyor's measure. "The genius of a place," Raymond Williams informs us, "was the making of a place." This "socially resonant word" was as important in More's day as it was in the eighteenth century.26 The improvement of land became tied to the improvement of one's own social position; however, the large-scale enclosure behind More's ambassadorship often improved one class at the expense of impoverishing another. The capital accumulation it engendered was part of what Williams labels "an ambiguous process: increasing real wealth but distributing it unevenly" (82) -- quite contrary to the impulse of small-scale enclosure. Williams, who remarks upon "a continuing contrast between the extraordinary improvement of the land and the social consequences of just this process" (82), speaks in the same voice for the dispossessed and vagrant of the eighteenth century that is Raphael's for the expropriated of the sixteenth century. Raphael, of course, speaks in Book I for the marginal and the displaced, subverting that dominant ideology represented by Morus. Morus argues not only for the improvement of society -- along with More -- but also for the improvement of one's own position, the bettering of one's place in society. Representing wool-trading interests in negotiations whose success would only serve to spur the progress of enclosures, More already faced an ethical and moral dilemma in choosing between the two positions.

In hedging the text within the doubly inscribed identity of Citizen Thomas More and allowing the engaged and public self of Morus to dispute with the detached and private self of Raphael, More has recreated the sense of personal crisis from which the text has risen. "Citizen Thomas More," the proper middle term in this self-fashioning, provides the middle ground for these marginalized identities to be defined and valued through the enclosure transaction (for enclosure involved the claiming of the marginal). In this respect, autobiography is expressed in the conflict among these various bioi: the private, communal, and state ownership that, derived from the larger discourse of the sixteenth-century agrarian crisis, is particularized in More's own personal situation. The negotiating of wool contracts becomes for More, often idled by long breaks in these negotiations, a negotiating of his own particular place in society. In this sense, the total work represents More's efforts to take possession of himself, to define what was private

against that which was the special province of the communal or state. Books I and II, representing respectively the external and internal components of the enclosure formula, thus serve in their dialectical opposition to establish the boundary lines of what More hoped to call his own.

The biographical gaps that critics perceive between the life More led and the "created world" of his text are surveyors' errors in failing to measure a seemingly mythic and alien landscape in real world terms. The error is not entirely their own, for the text faithfully represents a world in transition whose shifting values are difficult to represent. Until those values are fully restored to Utopia, autobiography can only present itself as auto-{ }-graphy; historically, a gap has opened up between self-reference or self-presentation (eautos) and the authorizing power of the letter to inscribe (graphein) that identity. One of the primary bases of social identity (topos: land) is shifting along with class boundaries, a fact signified by the uncertain, indeterminate prefix of '" Utopia." Expressed as auto-{ }-graphy, this term underscores both the importance of land in forming social identity and self-referencing as well as the effect of that land (absent, an undecided value) in preventing the possibility of self-reference, of individualization, and of self-fashioning. If scholars are to accomplish More than mere second-guessing about the fashioning of More's life, then they are going to have to do their reconstructions from the ground up, employing the complex set of terms that More himself had to negotiate. More's place in No Place can be determined by a formula through which the apparent terms of difference between the mythic island of Book II and the historical England of Book I are demonstrated to be convertible values.

Neologism institutes a new term: autopography. Awkward, certainly, but no other term better expresses the complex oppositions of exclusion and inclusion, privatization and communalism, that constitute the Utopian dialectic. Conjoining the two discourses of autobiography and topography, this neologism fills in the suspended, bracketed term of the former (bios) with an important determiner of social place in More's day (topos). It constantly keeps before us the supplementary nature of the Utopian text. If the figure of the land is mythically displaced, the possibility of self-referencing exists once More in the text, but only through the mediation of the land as it has been restored in the creation of Utopia by King Utopus. If the figure of the land remains historically situated, under the absolutism of Henry VIII and the state, then there is the risk of expropriation. Raphael's vision of improvement as expropriative and self-corrupting wars against that of Morus, who represents the privileges and prerogatives of courtly service. Each figure seeks to shape More to his own ends, to bring that which is marginal within the special enclosure of each one's vision of improvement.

As More's autopography, Utopia represents the serious work of determining identity amid the special set of circumstances for making this determination in early sixteenth-century England. If Raphael's vision is less preferable to what Morus offers, it is because the Utopian myth ultimately points to the incontrovertible evidence of history. Rather than disguise that incontrovertible evidence in myth and wish-fulfillment, More staked out a claim to a life whose course he could not always control like a work of art. While More's most recent antihagiographical critic, Jonathan V. Crewe, speaks of the "theatricality" of his martyrdom, exposing William Roper's "figure of saintly constancy,"27 he at least recognizes the encircling ring of threats and pressures that drove More increasingly inward at the end of his life. For Crewe, "Roper's More is one who finally inhabits its [the text's] structure of simultaneous total masculine empowerment and implied dependence, of familial enclosure beyond both power and law" (303). In his final days, within this familial enclosure, More sought to preserve his private conscience from the intrusions of the state. But this time the wolf would not go from his door.

As More's autopography, Utopia is a text through which much of what Greenblatt calls "social energy" is circulated in terms of historical identities and situations newly coined into myth and refunded once again into history.28 The dynamics of this circulation had to have been an abiding concern for Thomas More as he sought to find his place in his tumultuous times. Those critics who look for inconsistencies and faults in More might do well to make sure their own moral bookkeeping is in order. At least they might recognize that there is only one place where these conflicts between public and private can be fully resolved and transcended. This is the martyr's topos, the saint's burial place, where More now lies. Our scholarly exhumings of the historical Thomas More have invoked an unquiet spirit, restlessly wandering between our heaven and earth of sanctification and vilification. "The unburied dead are covered by the sky" is the consolation the well-traveled Raphael would offer More today. The small consolation that I have to offer is neither a monument nor an urn. It is simply a restoring of the narrower historical confines in which this controversy can be worked out, a modest plot of land, indeed.

University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, Michigan

NOTES
1. An assertion that is countered by Louis Martz, who has recently argued for a More complete picture of Thomas More as "a writer, statesman, scholar, family man, and polemicist typical of his era" (Martz, " Thomas More: The Search for the Inner Man," St. Thomas More Chapel, New Haven, 6 March 1988. Lecture cited in The Chaplain's Letter [ Summer-Fall 1988 ]).


2. Citations from Utopia are from volume 4 of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, ed. J. H. Hexter and Edward Surtz, S.J., 14 vols. (Princeton: Yale University Press, 1965 ), and The "Utopia" of St. Thomas More, ed. Mildred Campbell (London: D. Van Nostrand, 1947 ); hereafter cited parenthetically. This article is a chapter of my dissertation, "'Island of Improvement': More's Utopian Enclosure" (Wayne State University). I would like to acknowledge my main advisers, Robert Strozier and Arthur Marotti.


3. J. A. Guy, The Public Career of Sir Thomas More (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980 ), 7.


4. Richard Marius, Thomas More (New York: Knopf, 1984 ), 156-57.


5. Louis Marin, Utopics: Spatial Play, trans. Robert A. Vollrath (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1984 ), 58.


6. An image of oscillation is employed by John M. Perlette in "Irresolution as Solution: Rhetoric and the Unresolved Debate in Book I of More's Utopia", Texas Studies in Literature and Language 29 ( Spring 1987 ): 28-53. An image of negation and indeterminacy is employed by Richard Helgerson in "Inventing Noplace, or the Power of Negative Thinking", Genre 15 ( Spring 1986 ): 145-99.


7. J. H. Hexter, "Utopia and Its Historical Milieu," in The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, ed. J. H. Hexter and Edward Surtz, S.J., 14 vols. (Princeton: Yale University Press, 1965 ), 4:xxiii-xli.


8. Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980 ), 23.


9. Richard Helgerson, "The Land Speaks: Cartography, Chorography, and Subversion in Renaissance England", Representations 16 ( 1986 ): 65.


10. I explore the centrality of enclosure for More text in "A Model Territory: Enclosure in More's Utopia," in The Territorial Rights of Nations and Peoples, ed. John R. Jacobson (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989 ): 241-67 The creation of the Abraxian peninsula by expropriation and enclosure is described by Raphael:

As the report goes and as the appearance of the ground shows, the island once was not surrounded by sea. But Utopus, who as conqueror gave the island its name (up to then it had been called Abraxa) and who brought the rude and rustic people to such a perfection of culture and humanity as makes them now superior to almost all mortals, gained a victory at his very first landing. He then ordered the excavation of fifteen miles on the side where the land was connected with the continent and caused the sea to flow around the land. (113).

Enclosed by a process of digging and hedging, Utopia is thus a social experiment whose values of improvement are implicitly tied to agrarian principles.



11. J. H. Hexter, "Christian Humanism," in The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, ed. J. H. Hexter and Edward Surtz, S.J., 14 vols. (Princeton: Yale University Press, 1965 ), 4:lxxviii-lxxix.


12. Marie-Claude Rousseau, "Utopies, 1516-1977," Moreana 59. 15 ( 1979 ): 91; my translation.


13. I explore the enclosing of Book II in Book I in "Discourse in More's Utopia: Alibi/Pretext/Postscript" (accepted for publication by English Literary History; projected date of publication is Summer 1992 ).


14. Roger B. Manning, Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England, 1509-1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988 ), 29.


15. Rodney Hilton, Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism (London: Hambledon Press, 1985 ), 127.


16. The link between enclosure and colonialism implied by Utopus's enclosing of the Abraxian peninsula and expropriation of alien territories predicts two centuries in advance the connection between large-scale enclosure and the growth of the British empire. Michael Turner demonstrates how the consolidation of empire could turn quite naturally to a kind of imperialism directed within: "It was the wars with France. . . ., that brought about an increased awareness of the value of the waste and the conquest of the waste and the conquest of France became synonymous in some minds. Sir John Sinclair, the President of the Board of Agriculture, said in 1803: 'Let us not be satisfied with the liberation of Egypt, or the subjugation of Malta, but let us subdue Finchley Common; let us conquer Hounslow Heath, let us compel Epping Forest to submit to the yoke of improvement'" (cited in Turner Enclosures in Britain, 1750-1830 [ London: Macmillan, 1984 ], 23).


17. Richard S. Sylvester, "Si Hythlodaeo Credimus," in Essential Articles: Thomas More, ed. G. P. Marc'hadour and R. S. Sylvester (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1977 ), 297.


18. Jean E. Howard, "The New Historicism in Renaissance Studies", English Literary Renaissance 16 ( 1986 ): 20.


19. Russell Ames, "The Bourgeois Point of View," in his Twentieth-Century Interpretations of "Utopia" (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968 ), 8.


20. William Roper, The Lyfe of Sir Thomas More, Knighte, ed. Richard Sylvester (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962 ), xxvi.


21. Henry Duff Traill, Social England (New York: Cassell, 1902 ), 629.


22. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959 ), 24.


23. Robbin S. Johnson, More's "Utopia": Ideal and Illusion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969 ), 19.


24. Armen A. Alchian and Harold Demsetz, "The Property Rights Paradigm", Journal of Economic History 33 ( 1973 ): 17.


25. Karl Kautsky, Thomas More and His Utopia (New York: Russell and Russell, 1958 ), 64.


26. Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979 ), 124.


27. Jonathan Crewe, "The 'Encomium Moriae' of William Roper", English Literary History 55 ( 1988 ): 287.


28. Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988 ).