Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis

Francis Bacon seems to be saying that New Atlantis is more advanced than England because they speak a variety of classical as well as modern languages. Initally the inhabitants of the new Atlantis seem to private and wary of strangers, but they then extend an exceptional amount kindness to the people who land there, even giving the speaker a private audience with the ruler. However, only one person attains this honor. This text sort of reminds me of Lady Mary Wortley’s discussion of Turkish bathhouses and some other travel narrative, as the speaker seems more interested in elucidating the differences between Europe and New Atlantis, or New Atlantis and the old, than he does in simply telling a story. Each portion of the story is couched inside a scientific description of what the new land has to offer. Why are the assets of the new land told through eyes of the “Jew” and why are the inhabitants of this land compared with biblical people? The original parchment they brought out to the ship was written in ancient greek, hebrew and latin, which are all languages of the church. Is a utopia by default embued with scriptural language for Bacon?

Toward the end Bacon focuses on the inhabitants advanced technological abilities: sounds, fragrances, lighting. This reflects the state of technology in the renaissance as people started to experiment scientifically and to envision new ways to think about old problems: airplanes, submarines, the riches of Salomon’s house. Merchants of Light, Depredators, Mystery-Men, Pioners or Miners, Compilers, Dowry-Men or Benefactors, Lamps, Inoculators, and Interpreters of Nature: more celebratory statuary for men, but also sing praises to God.

Seemingly we are to read that the leader of New Atlantis shared all of this with the speaker for the good of other nations. He was allowed to write it down and share it. And not only that, but they were generous with there money.

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