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Looking Backward 2000-1887 Hardcover – Jan 1 1967


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press (Jan. 1 1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674539001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674539006
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

Product Description

Review

"There is no better book than Looking Backward for understanding the intersecting private and public spheres in Victorian America. This is easily the best edition on the market, thanks to the fine introduction that puts Bellamy in the sweep of utopian writing, the nice selection of contemporary responses, and the excerpts from Bellamy's 'Religion of Solidarity' and Equality." (Richard Fox)

"This edition is set apart from all other editions by Alex MacDonald's excellent introduction and annotations and an excellent selection of related texts." (Lyman Tower Sargent, editor of Utopian Studies)

"This edition is extremely welcome. The introduction is clear and accessible, and both situates the text historically and stresses its continuing relevance. Above all, the additional texts provide supporting material that makes this edition a truly invaluable resource." (Ruth Levitas) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1888) is one of the most influential utopian novels in English. The narrative follows Julian West, who goes to sleep in Boston in 1887 and wakes in the year 2000 to find that the era of competitive capitalism is long over, replaced by an era of co-operation. Wealth is produced by an "industrial army" and every citizen receives the same wage. This edition contains a rich selection of appendices, including excerpts from Bellamy's Equality and other writings; contemporary responses (by William Morris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and others); excerpts from utopian works by Morris and William Dean Howells; and an excerpt from Henry George's Progress and Poverty. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

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By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 13 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While it is always enjoyable to view humanity from a different perspective, whether through dystopic novels or texts that deal with philosophy or theoretical physics, this book was somewhat less than what I had hoped for. It is basically an instructional manual on the merits of socialism/communism that is lightly veiled as being a futuristic novel. The author's writing style is highly pedantic and authoritarian and, while he has humanity's best intentions before him, he left this reader less than impressed and rather bored through most of his stilted presentation.

The idyllic view that he has of the world is one where there is total equality and on-going happiness amongst all men. All areas of monetary reward, gender biases, national armed forces, educational opportunities, religious interests, etc... have all been resolved and equalized for the benefit of all. There is very little information on how the US was able to create such an arena of bliss without massive internal resistance nor is there any regret on the citizenry's part for what was lost during or after the transition. Instead, the author sees such a transition as being quite natural and accepting by all persons involved. By viewing it in this manner Mr. Bellamy negates a number of evolutionary traits that mankind has developed throughout the ages regardless of how distasteful they may seem to any of us. Darwin clearly defined areas such as survival of the fittest, defensive anger, paternalism, boundary protection and competitive pursuits as being traits that allowed the species to regenerate itself through the successful leaving of viable offspring. And, while I agree that most of these traits are non-harmonious and that they do cause personal stress, they did lead to the successful continuation of the species.
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By Daniel Jolley TOP 100 REVIEWER on Feb. 3 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having never really heard of this novel or its author before, I was rather surprised to discover how immensely popular it was at the end of the nineteenth century. Edward Bellamy does an excellent albeit sometimes pedantic job of communicating his socioeconomic views and provides an interesting and informative read, despite the fact that the utopia of his fictional creation is a socialist nightmare in the realm of my own personal philosophy. It is very important to understand the time in which Bellamy was writing, especially for a conservative-minded thinker such as myself who holds many of Bellamy's views as anathema. It was the mid-1880s, a time of great social unrest; vast strikes by labor unions, clashes between workers and managers, a debilitating economic depression. Bellamy, to his credit, in no way comes off as holier than thou; his wealthy protagonist recognizes his own responsibility in seeing the world in the eyes of the more prosperous classes, basically ignoring the plights of the poor and downtrodden, having inherited rather than earned the money he is privileged to enjoy, etc. This makes the character's observations and conclusions very impactful upon the reader.
While I do respect Bellamy's views and understand the context in which they germinated, I cannot help but describe his future utopia as nothing less than naïve, socialistic, unworkable, and destructive of the individual spirit. Indeed, it sounds to me like vintage Soviet communism, at least in its ideals. Bellamy is a Marxist with blinders on. I should describe the actual novel at this point. The protagonist, an insomniac having employed a mesmerist to help him sleep through the night, finds himself waking up not the following morning in 1887 but in a completely changed world in 2000.
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Format: Paperback
Looking Backwards is science fiction, like all good science fiction it is not about the future but about the times that it was written in. John West, a mild mannered aristocrat of the 1880's who suffers from insomnia, consults a mesmerist, and is plunged into a Rip Van Winkle like sleep that lasts more than a century. He awakes in the year 2000 to face a future where all human problems have been solved through centralization and humanitarian social policy. It is pointless to attack the book for not predicting the future, anyone who invests the most minute intellectual effort can see that the author's intentions were to expose the anti-human nature of the society of his time. Since we still have that social structure in place, the work is more relevant then ever.
Based on Thomas More's Utopia, this book with Whitman, Emerson and Thoreau forms part of the American Utopian Tradition, that existed throughout the late 1800's was submerged by industry and resurfaced later in the writings of Henry Miller and in the counterculture of the 1960's. The only glaring mistake the author makes is his belief that a centralized state would automatically bring about humane society. If there's anything the twentieth century has proven it is that a statist government can be just as brutal as a corporate controlled one.
If you can but the Signet Classics edition, which contains a wonderfully illuminating forward by Erich Fromm
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Format: Paperback
Looking Backwards is science fiction, like all good science fiction it is not about the future but about the times that it was written in. John West, a mild mannered aristocrat of the 1880's who suffers from insomnia, consults a mesmerist, and is plunged into a Rip Van Winkle like sleep that lasts more than a century. He awakes in the year 2000 to face a future where all human problems have been solved through centralization and humanitarian social policy. It is pointless to attack the book for not predicting the future, anyone who invests the most minute intellectual effort can see that the author's intentions were to expose the anti-human nature of the society of his time. Since we still have that social structure in place, the work is more relevant then ever.
Based on Thomas More's Utopia, this book with Whitman, Emerson and Thoreau forms part of the American Utopian Tradition, that existed throughout the late 1800's was submerged by industry and resurfaced later in the writings of Henry Miller and in the counterculture of the 1960's. The only glaring mistake the author makes is his belief that a centralized state would automatically bring about humane society. If there's anything the twentieth century has proven it is that a statist government can be just as brutal as a corporate controlled one.
If you can but the Signet Classics edition, which contains a wonderfully illuminating forward by Erich Fromm
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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