Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890) is investigated through a comparison between two conceptual polarities, namely rest and labour, which Morris strives to reconcile in order to construct his utopian project. These two words present a conceptual affinity with the equivalent Latin words “otium” and “negotium”. As a matter of fact, “otium” hides a double meaning, a positive and a negative one: it can be associated with leisure to be devoted to the cultivation of one’s own speculative inclinations; or, it can be connected with inertia and laziness. In English the Latin origin has been preserved in the adjective “otiose” and in the noun “otiosity”; however, while these Latinate terms are obsolete ones, the Old English “idleness” and “rest” are currently in use. The idea of “idleness” is opposed to work, it shuns labour and is counter-posed to it, as an alternative; the idea of “rest,” instead, implies a break from work and, consequently, it is strictly interrelated to it as a kind of re-creative inactivity which ensues from a productive activity. On the other hand, in the Latin language the term “negotium” is characterised by the following associations: a) work, activity, occupation; b) preoccupation; c) annoyance, difficulty, embarrassment; d) political activity, public function. Morris regards labour as a dynamic activity and no longer as a toilsome service men must daily fulfil for their own support. His positive idea of labour, conceived as an activity which man must learn, gathers momentum through his revival of the “Arts and Crafts” modelled on medieval guilds of artisans. In this respect, the encounter between Henry Morsom and William Guest in News from Nowhere is emblematic.

Dialectics between Labour and Rest in Morris’s Utopia: News from Nowhere (1890)

SPINOZZI, Paola
2003

Abstract

Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890) is investigated through a comparison between two conceptual polarities, namely rest and labour, which Morris strives to reconcile in order to construct his utopian project. These two words present a conceptual affinity with the equivalent Latin words “otium” and “negotium”. As a matter of fact, “otium” hides a double meaning, a positive and a negative one: it can be associated with leisure to be devoted to the cultivation of one’s own speculative inclinations; or, it can be connected with inertia and laziness. In English the Latin origin has been preserved in the adjective “otiose” and in the noun “otiosity”; however, while these Latinate terms are obsolete ones, the Old English “idleness” and “rest” are currently in use. The idea of “idleness” is opposed to work, it shuns labour and is counter-posed to it, as an alternative; the idea of “rest,” instead, implies a break from work and, consequently, it is strictly interrelated to it as a kind of re-creative inactivity which ensues from a productive activity. On the other hand, in the Latin language the term “negotium” is characterised by the following associations: a) work, activity, occupation; b) preoccupation; c) annoyance, difficulty, embarrassment; d) political activity, public function. Morris regards labour as a dynamic activity and no longer as a toilsome service men must daily fulfil for their own support. His positive idea of labour, conceived as an activity which man must learn, gathers momentum through his revival of the “Arts and Crafts” modelled on medieval guilds of artisans. In this respect, the encounter between Henry Morsom and William Guest in News from Nowhere is emblematic.
V., Fortunati; Spinozzi, Paola
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/1209480
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