This first-rate collection of essays in French stems from several international colloquia organized by a joint research program on utopia and catastrophe at the universities of Bordeaux-Montaigne and Poitiers between 2011 and 2013. Globally, as the title of Jean-Paul Engélibert and Raphaelle Guidée's excellent introduction (“Actualité de l'utopie,” 7–21) makes immediately clear, the volume questions and refutes the depreciation of utopia expressed (and analyzed) frequently in the last decades: the contemporary propensity to point, if not to the death of utopia, to the flourishing of dystopias since the nineteenth century and the view that utopias themselves are the root cause of most twentieth-century crises and catastrophes.

The first section is dedicated to the ambivalence of utopia from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Five essays have no difficulty proving that a skeptical if not outright dystopian dimension was already embedded or implied within utopia from an early period on. Jean-Michel Racault...

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