Looking Backward

Infobox Book |
name = Looking Backward: 2000-1887
title_orig =
translator =


image_caption = cover of "Looking Backward: 2000-1887"
author = Edward Bellamy
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Utopian novel
publisher = William Ticknor
release_date = 1888
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = vii, 470 pp
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by = Equality

"Looking Backward: 2000-1887" is a utopian novel by Edward Bellamy, a lawyer and writer from western Massachusetts, and was first published in 1888. According to Erich Fromm, "Looking Backward" is "one of the most remarkable books ever published in America."Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward 2000-1887, with a foreword by Erich Fromm, Signet 1960. ISBN 0-451-52412-8]

It was the third largest bestseller of its time, after "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "". It influenced a large number of intellectuals, and 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." [(Fromm, p vi). 165] Several "Bellamy Clubs" sprang up all over the United States for discussing and propagating the book's ideas. This political movement came to be known as Nationalism. [See, for example, Edward Bellamy. "What 'Nationalism" Means. The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature (1844-1898); Sep 1890; 52, 3; pg. 289] The novel also inspired several utopian communities.

ynopsis

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 and wakes up more than a century later. He finds himself on the same spot (Boston, Massachusetts) but in a totally changed world: It is the year 2000 and, while he was sleeping, the U.S.A. has been transformed into a socialist utopia. This book outlines Bellamy's complex thoughts about improving the future.

The young man readily finds a guide, Doctor Leete, who shows him around and explains all the advances of this new age, including drastically reduced working hours for people performing menial jobs and almost instantaneous delivery of goods from stores to homes. Everyone retires with full benefits at age 45. The productive capacity of America is commonly owned, and the goods of society are equally distributed to its citizens. A considerable portion of the book is dialogue between Leete and West wherein West expresses his confusion about an issue and Leete explains it.

Although Bellamy's novel did not discuss technology in detail, commentators frequently compare "Looking Backward" with actual social and technological developments. For example, Julian West is taken to a store which (with its descriptions of cutting out the middleman to cut down on waste in a similar way to the consumers' cooperatives of his own day based on the "Rochdale Principles" of 1844) somewhat resembles a modern warehouse club. He additionally introduces the concept of credit cards in chapters 9, 10, 11, 13, 25, and 26 (though their description more closely resembles modern day debit cards). Bellamy also predicts classical music and sermons being available in the home through cable "telephone".

equel(s)

In 1897 Bellamy wrote a sequel, "Equality", dealing with women's rights, education and many other issues. Bellamy wrote the sequel to elaborate and clarify many of the ideas merely touched upon in "Looking Backward".

Sequels written by other authors include:
* "Looking Beyond" (1891), by Ludwig A. Geissler
* "Looking Forward" (1906), by Harry W. Hillman
* "Looking Further Forward" (1890), by Richard C. Michaelis
* "Looking Further Backward" (1890), by Arthur Dudley Vinton.
* "Young West" (1894), by Solomon Schindler
* "Mr. East's Experiences in Mr. Bellamy's World" (1891), by Conrad Wilbrandt

Reaction

William Morris's 1890 utopia "News from Nowhere" was partly written in reaction to this utopia, which Morris did not find congenial. The book's descriptions of utopian urban planning had a practical influence on Ebenezer Howard's founding of the garden city movement in England, and on the design of the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles. During the Great Strikes of 1877, Eugene V. Debs opposed the strikes and argued that there was no essential necessity for the conflict between capital and labor. However, Debs was influenced by the book to turn to a more socialist direction. He soon helped to form the American Railway Union. With supporters from the Knights of Labor and from the immediate vicinity of Chicago, workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike in June 1894. This came to be known as the Pullman Strike.

The book was re-written in 1974 by American science fiction writer Mack Reynolds as "Looking Backward from the Year 2000". Matthew Kapell, a historian and anthropologist, examined this re-writing in his essay, "Mack Reynolds' Avoidance of his own Eighteenth Brumaire: A Note of Caution for Would-Be Utopians."

In 1984, Herbert Knapp and Mary Knapp's "Red, White and Blue Paradise: The American Canal Zone in Panama" appeared. The book was in part a memoir of their careers teaching at fabled Balboa High School, but also a re-interpretation of the Canal Zone as a creature of turn-of-the-century Progressivism, a workers' paradise. The Knapps employed Bellamy's "Looking Backward" as their heuristic model for understanding Progressive ideology as it shaped the Canal Zone.

References

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External links

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* [http://www.selparis.com/SciFiTexts/sf0030.html "Looking Backward"] — html edition.
* , available at Wikisource
* [http://literapedia.wikispaces.com/Looking+Backward "Looking Backward"] on [http://literapedia.wikispaces.com/ Literapedia] .


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  • List of sequels to Looking Backward — is a utopian novel by Edward Bellamy, a lawyer and writer from western Massachusetts, and was first published in 1888. It deals with a young man, named Julian West, who falls asleep in 1887 and wakes up in 2000 to find the USA has become a… …   Wikipedia

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  • backward — back|ward1 [ bækwərd ] adjective * 1. ) only before noun moving or looking in the direction that is behind you: a backward glance 2. ) not developing quickly, normally, and successfully: a remote and backward region a ) OLD FASHIONED an offensive …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • backward-looking — adj using the methods and ideas of the past rather than modern ones used to show disapproval ≠ ↑forward looking ▪ Darwin transformed a backward looking organisation into a respected art school …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • backward-looking — backward ,looking adjective not interested in new ideas or ways of doing things: REACTIONARY …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • backward-looking — also backward looking ADJ GRADED (disapproval) If you describe someone or something as backward looking, you disapprove of their attitudes, ideas, or actions because they are based on old fashioned opinions or methods. They are criticised for… …   English dictionary

  • backward-looking — backˈward looking adjective 1. Having more regard to the past than the future 2. Conservative, reactionary • • • Main Entry: ↑back * * * backward looking UK US adjective not interested in new ideas or ways of doing things Thesaurus: old fashioned …   Useful english dictionary


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