First published in 1888 and a phenomenal best-seller, Looking Backward is Edward Bellamy's utopian novel about ninteenth-century Bostonian who awakes after a sleep for more than one hundred years to find himself in the year 2000 in a world of near-perfect cooperation, harmony, and prosperity.
The book tells the story of Julian West, a young American who, towards the end of the 19th century, falls into a deep, hypnosis-induced sleep & wakes up 113 years later. He finds himself in the same location (Boston), but in a totally changed world: It's the year 2000 &, while he was sleeping, the USA has become a socialist utopia.
In this futuristic socialist utopia, people retire at 45 to live out the rest of their lives in leisure. His guide in this brave new America is Doctor Leete, with whom he discusses the wonders he encounters and the perils he envisions. Through these social-minded dialogues range from discussing religion, an improved legal system and class equality, to the use of credit cards, overnight deliveries, and the dangers of the stock market.
Edward Bellamy's 'Looking Backward: 2000-1887' remains the most successful and influential Utopian novel written by an American writer. At the end of the 19th century, Bellamy creates a picture of a wonderful future society. Bellamy's protagonist is Julian West, a young aristocratic Bostonian who falls into a deep sleep while under a hypnotic trance in 1887 and ends up waking up in the year 2000 (hence the novel's sub-title).
As much as this is a prediction of a future utopia, it is also a scathing attack on the ills of American life heading into the previous turn of the century. Bellamy's sympathies are clearly with the progressives of that period. "Looking Backward" does not have a narrative structure per se. Instead West is shown the wonders of Boston in the year 2000, with his hosts explaining the rationale behind the grand civic improvements.
For example, he discovers that every body is happy and no one is either rich or poor, all because equality has been achieved. Industry has been nationalized, which has increased efficiency because it has eliminated wasteful competition. This is a world with no need of money, but every citizen has a sort of credit card that allows them to make individual purchases, although everyone has the same monthly allowance.
In Bellamy's world is so ideal that it does not have any police, a military, any lawyers, or, best of all, any salesmen. Men and women are compensated equally, but there are some distinctions between job on the basis of gender, and pregnancy and motherhood are taken into account. Bellamy was living during the start of the Industrial Revolution, and like Francis Bacon and Tomasso Campanella who wrote during the height of the Age of Reason, he sees science and human ingenuity as being what will solve all of humanity's problems.
Edward Bellamy (1850-1898) was an American author and socialist, most famous for his utopian novel set in the year 2000, Looking Backward from 2000 to 1887, published in 1888. His books include Dr. Heidenhoff's Process (1880), Miss Ludington's Sister (1884), Equality (1897) and The Duke of Stockbridge: A Romance of Shays' Rebellion (1900). His feeling of injustice in the economic system led him to write Looking Backward from 2000 to 1887 and its sequel, Equality.
According to the introduction by Erich Fromm, Bellamy's novel Looking Backward is "one of the most remarkable books ever published in America." It was the third largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It influenced a large number of intellectuals & appears by title in many of the major Marxist writings of the day. "It is one of the few books ever published that created almost immediately on its appearance a political mass movement"
In the USA alone, over 162 Bellamy Clubs sprang up to discuss & propagate the book's ideas after it's publication. Owing to its commitment to the nationalization of private property, this political movement came to be known as Nationalism, not to be confused with the political concept of nationalism.
"While almost prophetic in its 19th century predictions of many modern contrivances, socially, 'Looking Backward' stands in stark contrast to America as it exists in the grip of the early 21st century world economic recession. Yet even more than a century after it was written, Bellamy's masterpiece now burns even brighter as a beacon of hope for class equality and the ideas associated with Christian socialism." —Shawn Conners, editor of Men & Women by Robert Browning - Transcendentalism: A Poem in Twelve Books
This full size collectible edition has been designed for students and scholars, and features a new introduction, as well as a contemporary look at the life and influence of Edward Bellamy. It has been updated and completely restored for a modern audience.