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Looking Backward 2000-1887 Hardcover – Jan 1 1967


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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

First published in 1888, Looking Backward was one of the most popular novels of its day. Translated into more than 20 languages, its utopian fantasy influenced such thinkers as John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Eugene V. Debs, and Norman Thomas. Writing from a 19th century perspective and poignantly critical of his own time, Bellamy advanced a remarkable vision of the future, including such daring predictions as the existence of radio, television, motion pictures, credit cards, and covered pedestrian malls.
On the surface, the novel is the story of time-traveler Julian West, a young Bostonian who is put into a hypnotic sleep in the late 19th century, and awakens in the year 2000 in a socialist utopia. In conversations with the doctor who awakened him, he discovers a brilliantly realized vision of an ideal future, one that seemed unthinkable in his own century. Crime, war, personal animosity, and want are nonexistent. Equality of the sexes is a fact of life. In short, a messianic state of brotherly love is in effect.
Entertaining, stimulating, and thought-provoking, Looking Backward, with its ingenious plot and appealing socialism, is a provocative study of human society as it is and as it might be.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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I first saw the light in the city of Boston in the year 1857. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

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By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 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
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
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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