I know what you're thinking--"Who is this Philistine that gives a work as important as The New Atlantis
only two stars?" But I swear, it's a justifiably low rating! And here's why:
Firstly, unfulfilled expectations. In The New Atlantis
, Bacon chose to weave his ideas into a piece of fiction, instead of expounding them in your typical, scholarly philosophy tract. The problem is, he really didn't craft a story that is any more compelling than a straightforward piece of philosophy. "Dry" doesn't do it justice; "xeric" is perhaps more fitting.
The ideas contained within it are strong. Indeed, his ideas about scientific research and how it should be conducted in centers of learning, embodied by "Salomon's House," was revolutionary, and certainly changed the course of academia for the better. I repeat, the strength of the ideas are not what I'm disappointed with here, but rather it's their packaging that is. As a piece of fiction, it is a failure. If Bacon had instead just decided to write his ideas in a more direct form, like Discourse on the Method
, I'd probably have given it a much higher rating. But since he decided this was to be a fantasy, a fiction, I have no choice but to judge it on its merits as such.
Secondly, and more briefly, is that The New Atlantis
is unfinished. Perhaps if
it had been finished, Bacon would have edited it substantially and improved its narrative weaknesses. Or perhaps not. We'll never know. But as it stands, it's certainly not the best piece of philosophy I've ever read, nor the best piece of fiction.
The last time I checked, the GR star ratings don't revolve around how influential something is, but on how much we the readers enjoyed the book--"did not like it," "it was OK," "liked it," etc. With that in mind, two stars sounds fair to me.