Cabet, Étienne

Tagged: Author

(1788-1856) French lawyer, philosopher, utopian socialist and author, best known for the narrative Utopia, Voyage et Aventures de Lord Villiam Carisdall en Icarie (1839 2vols; vt Voyage en Icarie: roman philosophique et social 1842; trans Leslie J Roberts as Travels in Icaria 2003) [for more details see Checklist below]. The eponymous Lord Carisdall, a member of the British nobility, travels by ship (the journey takes four months) to a vast promontory known as Icaria, whose 100 provinces are dominated by the great circular City of Icara. Here Adams discovers an ideal socialist society, with benefits and obligations equitably distributed across a large population, even though the city itself, with its huge statue to Icarus and its formal boulevards and arcades, seems meant to impress. The Technological level is high; Transportation is public; there is no Money (see also Economics); Music can be heard throughout the entire land. All Arts are commissioned. Women are not exactly discriminated against, though their activities are kept separate; mixed-race marriages are encouraged. Children are raised communally after the age of five. The entire population adheres to the same daily schedule. Contentment is universal.

Cabet published a number of nonfiction opuscules [not here listed] in his campaign to found in America a genuine Icarian community; within half a decade of his arriving in the promised land he himself was dead. Any description of the consequences of this exercise in utopianism, tragi-comic but not entirely fruitless, lies beyond the remit of this encyclopedia. [JC]

Étienne Cabet

born Dijon, Côte d'Or, France: 1 January 1788

died St Louis, Missouri: 9 November 1856

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