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Looking Backward: Illustrated Platinum Edition (Free Audiobook Included)

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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is a utopian science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a journa How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is a utopian science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a journalist and writer from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; it was first published in 1888. According to Erich Fromm, 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, 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".In the United States alone, over 162 "Bellamy Clubs" sprang up to discuss and propagate the book's ideas.[3] Owing to its commitment to the nationalization of private property and the desire to avoid use of the odious term "Socialism," this political movement came to be known as "Nationalism" — not to be confused with the political concept of nationalism. The novel also inspired several utopian communities.


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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is a utopian science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a journa How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is a utopian science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a journalist and writer from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; it was first published in 1888. According to Erich Fromm, 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, 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".In the United States alone, over 162 "Bellamy Clubs" sprang up to discuss and propagate the book's ideas.[3] Owing to its commitment to the nationalization of private property and the desire to avoid use of the odious term "Socialism," this political movement came to be known as "Nationalism" — not to be confused with the political concept of nationalism. The novel also inspired several utopian communities.

30 review for Looking Backward: Illustrated Platinum Edition (Free Audiobook Included)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    In Bellamy’s Boston in the year 2000, many things have changed from how they were in 1887, and the consensus among the book’s characters is that they have changed for the better. I do not imagine many people would argue the merits of the eradication of poverty and war. But when one looks more closely at gender roles, “utopia” becomes a bit more blurry. The fact that women have jobs outside the home is exciting and progressive. However, they are still treated as quite secondary to men. Being “infe In Bellamy’s Boston in the year 2000, many things have changed from how they were in 1887, and the consensus among the book’s characters is that they have changed for the better. I do not imagine many people would argue the merits of the eradication of poverty and war. But when one looks more closely at gender roles, “utopia” becomes a bit more blurry. The fact that women have jobs outside the home is exciting and progressive. However, they are still treated as quite secondary to men. Being “inferior of strength to men, and further disqualified industrially in special ways” women work within an entirely separate labor structure (257). The men discuss it as if the women are playing at work. “Under no circumstances is a woman permitted to follow any employment not perfectly adapted, both as to kind and degree of labor, to her sex” (257). Further discourse shows that rather than seeing women as deserving of work just as they are, men “let them” work as long as it does not interact with their “serious” industry. Dr. Leete says that “they permit them to work at all only because it is fully understood that a certain regular requirement of labor, of a sort adapted to their powers, is well for body and mind” (257). In other words, they permit them to work because it makes them prettier. One sees the condescension even more clearly when Dr. Leete explains, “We have given them a world of their own, with its emulations, ambitions, and careers, and I assure you they are very happy in it” (259). And finally, to see how little society’s respect for women has “progressed,” we learn that their main role and value is still as producers of children. In fact “the higher positions in the feminine army of industry are intrusted only to women who have been both wives and mothers, as they alone fully represent their sex” (261). Perhaps this is a challenge that no utopian writer has yet conquered: creating a society that everyone thinks is utopian. In Bellamy’s future society, Dr. Leete explains that “we have nothing to make laws about. The fundamental principles on which our society is founded settle for all time the strifes and misunderstandings which in your day called for legislation” (208). Even if we concede that the elimination of money and personal property would obviate many laws, how can we be convinced that there are no legal or moral issues on which people disagree? The yearning to create a perfect society has captured many artists, and will no doubt continue to do so. But who decides what is perfect, much less what is better? Who defines progress?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan-David Jackson

    As a novel, this book isn't much. That isn't a mark against it, though - the story serves as a light frame to build an explanation of socialism around, and it does that very well. Looking Backward is the best and clearest way I have ever seen socialism presented (although that is not hard, since I have never seen socialism presented in any light other than a negative one), and in almost every way it seems better than capitalism. It raises questions in me that I have never had occasion to consider As a novel, this book isn't much. That isn't a mark against it, though - the story serves as a light frame to build an explanation of socialism around, and it does that very well. Looking Backward is the best and clearest way I have ever seen socialism presented (although that is not hard, since I have never seen socialism presented in any light other than a negative one), and in almost every way it seems better than capitalism. It raises questions in me that I have never had occasion to consider. Why, indeed, should we not all work together? Why should one have so much more than another, when all people are created equal? Why waste so much manpower and economic power with endless duplication of enterprise? Why should many of us live under constant threat of poverty and hunger, when the good earth is rich, and can support us all equally? Five hundred million people live in poverty in Africa, one of the poorest regions on Earth. Two hundred million in China. Fifteen million in the United Kingdom. Forty million people live in poverty even in America, the richest nation on Earth. This past year the people on the Forbes 400 list have accumulated an additional two hundred billion dollars ($200,000,000,000), while at the same time median family income in America dropped by 4 percent. After reading this book, perhaps I might call myself a socialist. ---- For thirty years I had lived among them, and yet I seemed to have never noted before how drawn and anxious were their faces, of the rich as of the poor, the refined, acute faces of the educated as well as the dull masks of the ignorant. And well it might be so, for I saw now, as never before I had seen so plainly, that each as he walked constantly turned to catch the whispers of a spectre at his ear, the spectre of Uncertainty. "Do your work never so well," the spectre was whispering, - "rise early and toil till late, rob cunningly or serve faithfully, you shall never know security. Rich you may be now and still come to poverty at last. Leave never so much wealth to your children, you cannot buy the assurance that your son may not be the servant of your servant, or that your daughter will not have to sell herself for bread."

  3. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    2000th Book Read on Goodreads!* For my 2000th book ‘read’ on GR, I present Bellamy’s vision of a socialist utopia, published in 1888. Nowhere near as narratively cushy as William Morris’s News from Nowhere, although far superior to HG Wells’s weirdly fascist and crushingly boring A Modern Utopia, Bellamy’s vision errs on the side of Christian kindness, crediting humans with the basic decency to work together to fulfil everyone’s interests, presenting a heartbreakingly plausible vision of a future 2000th Book Read on Goodreads!* For my 2000th book ‘read’ on GR, I present Bellamy’s vision of a socialist utopia, published in 1888. Nowhere near as narratively cushy as William Morris’s News from Nowhere, although far superior to HG Wells’s weirdly fascist and crushingly boring A Modern Utopia, Bellamy’s vision errs on the side of Christian kindness, crediting humans with the basic decency to work together to fulfil everyone’s interests, presenting a heartbreakingly plausible vision of a future that never happened. In an era where 9% of the population are in extreme poverty and jobbernowls like Jeff Bezos stalk the earth in their tumorous pomp, where millions and millions of unnecessary bodies are piling up as I write this through avoidable stupidity and venality, where simple facts are shat upon by the most powerful people, reading this socialist vision is akin to smacking myself with birch rods to the music of Vanessa Paradis. But as an eager pupil of the sort of worlds we ought to have built for ourselves, I find Bellamy’s is the most credible implementation of the socialist ideas later thinkers would mangle. Drop the audio sermons, introduce sexual freedom and equality, and I will move to Bellamy’s Boston tout suite. *By the way, my 1887th book ‘read’ on GR was JG Ballard’s middling novel Rushing to Paradise, providing a pleasing utopian symmetry to this otherwise morose celebration.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    A book that has been stranded on the "island of forgotten classics" for far too long. Foreshadowing many of the technological advancements we take for granted this is a look back that will also provide a vantage point for looking forward as we are all caught in the ebb and flow of technoethics and technoetics. A book that has been stranded on the "island of forgotten classics" for far too long. Foreshadowing many of the technological advancements we take for granted this is a look back that will also provide a vantage point for looking forward as we are all caught in the ebb and flow of technoethics and technoetics.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    This was another Literary Birthday challenge title, and the last one I will be able to complete for March. Edward Bellamy was born on March 26, 1850. This book was published in 1888 and according to the GR author bio was third in popularity behind Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. Bellamy takes the Rip Van Winkle idea and cranks it up a few notches. Our hero Julian goes to sleep in Boston one night in 1887 and wakes up in a most unusual place: Boston in the year 2000. The main This was another Literary Birthday challenge title, and the last one I will be able to complete for March. Edward Bellamy was born on March 26, 1850. This book was published in 1888 and according to the GR author bio was third in popularity behind Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. Bellamy takes the Rip Van Winkle idea and cranks it up a few notches. Our hero Julian goes to sleep in Boston one night in 1887 and wakes up in a most unusual place: Boston in the year 2000. The main body of the story revolves around his host (a doctor who brought him safely to a waking state) sharing all the new and glorious details with Julian in the first week of being a citizen of this brave but strange new world. Apparently back in its day, this book was seen as THE blueprint for a utopian society. I was more than a little disturbed by the way the year 2000 was managed, though. Julian asked my questions (most of them) pretty much right after I thought of them myself but he accepted the answers without digging much deeper. I kept saying "Yeah, but what about....?" And of course I got no answers at all. In his talks with the doctor, Julian learns that the nation itself is now the provider of everything a man needs, that there is compulsory education to the age of 21, and compulsory service in the 'industrial army' from then till age 45 (with the first three years of that being in the unskilled sector, then you get to decide where you want to work for the rest of your productive time). After age 45 a man gets to have his time for himself. No money, no taxes, no debt, no servant crisis, no crime, no this no that. On one hand it sounds wonderful. But then there's that other hand.... For one thing it took until Chapter 25 of 28 before Julian asked about the role of women in the year 2000. And then part of the answer was this: "We have given them a world of their own, with its emulations, ambitions, and careers, and I assure you they are very happy in it." I wanted to smack that doctor upside the head more during Chapter 25 than at any other time in the book. This was a vehicle for Bellamy's vision of society more than anything else. I would like to read some other title of his, just to see what his plain old everyday novels are like. I was torn about the rating here. It was interesting to see the ideas he proposed and to debate with him, but I kept expecting more story and less soapbox. And he very nearly lost all of his stars with his final chapter, but luckily he switched gears again right at the end and did not finish his book 'Dallas' style after all. (You know....it was all just a dream).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    As a historic work, this isn't without interest. As a piece of art, it reads more like a lecture from someone who can't stop pontificating. Edward Bellamy was trying to craft ideas for the perfect society, but it is hard to stomach in a post-Freud, post World War-I and -II and post-Soviet Union world. I'll take an anti-utopian novel like 1984 any day. As a historic work, this isn't without interest. As a piece of art, it reads more like a lecture from someone who can't stop pontificating. Edward Bellamy was trying to craft ideas for the perfect society, but it is hard to stomach in a post-Freud, post World War-I and -II and post-Soviet Union world. I'll take an anti-utopian novel like 1984 any day.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    This is a great book about a man from 1887 who finds himself in the year 2000. It was actually written in 1887 and the author, Edward Bellamy actually predicts some things such as radio and credit cards. In the year 2000 he finds that all social class differences have been erased and there is a Utopian society. I thought his view of what the year 2000 would be like was fascinating and some of his ideas of how to implement a Utopian society were thought provoking. This is one of my favorite books This is a great book about a man from 1887 who finds himself in the year 2000. It was actually written in 1887 and the author, Edward Bellamy actually predicts some things such as radio and credit cards. In the year 2000 he finds that all social class differences have been erased and there is a Utopian society. I thought his view of what the year 2000 would be like was fascinating and some of his ideas of how to implement a Utopian society were thought provoking. This is one of my favorite books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Proto-scifi utopian snoozefest Looking Backward was a blockbuster hit in 1887 - according to Wikipedia "the third-largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur." This is mystifying because it's basically a boring socialist tract. (For context: I am a socialist. It is frustrating to me that most socialist books suck.)Does it then really seem to you that human nature is insensible to any motives save fear of want and love of luxury, that you should expect security and equalit Proto-scifi utopian snoozefest Looking Backward was a blockbuster hit in 1887 - according to Wikipedia "the third-largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur." This is mystifying because it's basically a boring socialist tract. (For context: I am a socialist. It is frustrating to me that most socialist books suck.)Does it then really seem to you that human nature is insensible to any motives save fear of want and love of luxury, that you should expect security and equality of livelihood to leave them without possible incentives to effort? (63) Unfortunately, it turns out that the answer to this question is yes. Falling into the standard trap of utopianists, merrily pretending that people are terrific because that's the only way utopias work, Bellamy mentions that all prisons have disappeared, those few "criminal" elements left consigned to asylums...but then, "A man able to duty, and persistently refusing, is sentenced to solitary imprisonment on bread and water till he consents" (83) - one of the book's very few hints at the dangers of an essentially totalitarian society. (While elections happen, the elected officials are allowed to do very little.) There's little plot and no characterization, and also almost zero accurate forecasting of the future. It's credited (har!) with inventing credit cards, but they bear zero resemblance to actual credit cards so I'm not buying that (haw!). Bellamy imagines the future economy with great, mind-numbing detail, but it doesn't occur to him that music or art might have changed in the slightest. He's prescient on one front, though. He imagines a future where publishing is entirely egalitarian: anyone who wants to can write a book, and if enough people like it then it gets published. We're totally doing that now, and it's working out great! This is not a very good book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    One reads this clunky, sci-fi novel about the socialist paradise that America would supposedly become by the year 2000 so as to retain one important idea. Socialism had many forms before the creation of the 2nd and then the 3rd international. Americans were open to the Socialism up until the 1950s when the Russians made it quite clear that they considered America to be their number one enemy. In the late nineteenth century, there was no visceral hatred towards socialists who were considered be to One reads this clunky, sci-fi novel about the socialist paradise that America would supposedly become by the year 2000 so as to retain one important idea. Socialism had many forms before the creation of the 2nd and then the 3rd international. Americans were open to the Socialism up until the 1950s when the Russians made it quite clear that they considered America to be their number one enemy. In the late nineteenth century, there was no visceral hatred towards socialists who were considered be to be at worst fools but not dangerous enemies. In the first half of of the nineteenth century Americans had experimented with agricultural, industrial and even sexual communes with no harm coming to mainstream American society. Consequently Bellamy was granted a fair hearing when he published this socialist utopian work in 1888. It sold extremely well but changed absolutely nothing. Currently dystopian novels are the rage but do not be surprised if the pendulum swings and a new generation of Utopian writers appears. They will never be gone permanently in a free society.

  10. 4 out of 5

    J. Dunn

    Man, what a crappy socialist utopia. Americans would figure out how to make a socialist utopia as saccharine and colorless and authoritarian as possible, wouldn't we? So, I read this out of historical interest, because it was a landmark work in American leftism, sold millions of copies in the 1890's, etc. I kinda wanted to know what got early American leftists excited. Evidently, it was very-thinly-novelized half-informed hectoring about proto-Marxist political economy. He sketched just barely en Man, what a crappy socialist utopia. Americans would figure out how to make a socialist utopia as saccharine and colorless and authoritarian as possible, wouldn't we? So, I read this out of historical interest, because it was a landmark work in American leftism, sold millions of copies in the 1890's, etc. I kinda wanted to know what got early American leftists excited. Evidently, it was very-thinly-novelized half-informed hectoring about proto-Marxist political economy. He sketched just barely enough of his utopian future to force the medicine down. For a supposed seminal work of scifi futurism, there's just no imagination at all... he even goes so far as to kinda just give up and make his year 2000 Boston look almost exactly like his 1887 Boston, just with less squalor and more monumental architecture. There are a few futurist stabs at what the society and technology of tomorrow would look like, but they're all ancillary and don't seem to have much at all to do with his political and economic vision. I don't know how anyone could have possibly read this for entertainment. And what he does sketch out is not very appealing. He had a big hardon for organizing things on a military footing, and his utopia is awfully authoritarian. The results he posits seem pretty ok, but the means of getting to them are either implausible or would likely preclude those results. And everything is annoyingly, Socratically just-so. And then to top it all off he has the temerity to throw in a totally cloying, shallow, and implausible romance, topped off with a gratuitous double-twist ending, just to mess with us. Ok, ok, I shouldn't be so hard on him. This guy was essentially an amateur, trying to find the best way he could to expound his political ideas to a large audience. And obviously, it worked. I just can't believe this had such broad appeal. Americans must have been absolutely starving for good socialist agitprop back in the populist era. I had hoped it would be interesting on its own terms, but it's really only worth reading as a curiosity of historical and political interest, and barely at that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    in the year 2000, humanity will enjoy harmony, happiness and worldwide peace in a universal socialist utopia, and this is how we will fall in love: "In her face, pity contended in a sort of divine spite against the obstacles which reduced it to impotence. Womanly compassion surely never wore a guise more lovely. Such beauty and such goodness quite melted me, and it seemed that the only fitting response... was just to tell her the truth.... I had no fear that she would be angry. She was too pitifu in the year 2000, humanity will enjoy harmony, happiness and worldwide peace in a universal socialist utopia, and this is how we will fall in love: "In her face, pity contended in a sort of divine spite against the obstacles which reduced it to impotence. Womanly compassion surely never wore a guise more lovely. Such beauty and such goodness quite melted me, and it seemed that the only fitting response... was just to tell her the truth.... I had no fear that she would be angry. She was too pitiful for that.... 'Don't you see that it is because I have been mad enough to love you?' At my last words she blushed deeply and her eyes fell before mine.... Then blushing deeper than ever, but with a dazzling smile, she looked up. 'Are you sure it is not you who are blind?' she said.... 'If I am beside myself," I cried, "let me remain so!' 'It is I whom you must think beside myself," she panted, escaping from my arms when I had barely tasted the sweetness of her lips. 'Oh! Oh!'" blah. this schlock survived the turn of the century just because bellamy managed to predict the credit card? ...okay, that's not fair. It survived because it profoundly affected the generation to which it spoke, and because it inspired countless political awakenings in people like Eugene Debs who would go on to shape the American progressive movement in the new century. However, it was perhaps so effective in part because, as the above passage illustrates, it spoke the language of its generation, a lexicon not terribly effective today. As a result, it's useful in exploring the mood and sensibility of a restless, hopeful, frustrated 19th century America, but not likely to inspire any new revolutions from our own generation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Started off hopeful, but ended leaving me wanting more. This is the story of Julian West, a man from the year 1887 who falls into a trance and wakes up in the year 2000. It basically provides an outline for the makings of a perfect society, which, in the novel, is exactly what is created in the year 2000. Dr. Leete is basically the spokesperson for this new society, which by the way is a very radical version of Socialism. Leete explains to Julian the industrial workforce, and all of the inner-wor Started off hopeful, but ended leaving me wanting more. This is the story of Julian West, a man from the year 1887 who falls into a trance and wakes up in the year 2000. It basically provides an outline for the makings of a perfect society, which, in the novel, is exactly what is created in the year 2000. Dr. Leete is basically the spokesperson for this new society, which by the way is a very radical version of Socialism. Leete explains to Julian the industrial workforce, and all of the inner-workings of the "new and improved" United States of America. It was very cool to see how much emphasis was placed on learning within the society; everyone was encouraged and had a chance to get higher education because there were no social/economical barriers holding anyone down. If everyone makes the same salary, everyone is entitled to the same things. In some ways the novels was very persuasive, but in other ways it fell short. For instance, I have to bring up women's place in this utopian society. Now, if the book had chosen to leave women out altogether, I would not even be making this argument, but the way in which women are brought up is offensive. I think if authors choose to throw in additional characters, even if they're out of his/her writing comfort zone, they need to be dealt with and verified just as the other characters are. Otherwise, leave the novel/story on a smaller scale to avoid disappointment from the audience. Toward the end of the book, like in the last 50 pages, Bellamy has the protagonist Julian West ask a random question (the question that I'd been wondering if he'd ever address) regarding women in the society. He asks something like, "just what to women do?" Up to that point, the women in the novel were not discussed as having jobs. There was an emphasis on the amount of leisure they enjoyed, but not much else. To my surprise, Bellamy says the women are in the industrial workforce just like the men. It was surprising to me because he brought up the industrial workforce and all of its inner-workings (THOROUGHLY) on like page 15 of the book. He went into great depth and detail having Leete explain it all, and yet he chooses to mention women's position as a random afterthought that made no sense to the flow of the book. I pictured Bellamy sitting down writing this somewhere and thinking "oh gosh! I left out the women!" and then scribbling a quick explanation to avoid holes in his socialist America. I could go into much greater detail regarding the way in which they were represented, but I'd be writing a 15 page review! Additionally, there is no place for globalization or immigration in this new America. The book constantly goes back and forth from 1887 to 2000 to emphasize the great strife of the 19th century and how the future of America was so bright and perfect. There was so much talk of social inequality, and yet not once did Bellamy mention the turmoil created by RACIAL inequality in the United States of America in 1887. About 30 years since the Civil War, and that's not something the deserves discussing? And that's not something that was resolved with this new and "perfect America" in the year 2000? I don't know. I want to give this book credit for its persuasive abilities, but the ending (last 100 pages or so) really threw me for a curveball and I started to become annoyed with Bellamy's lack of forethought on some of the issues he addressed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jersy

    Really fascinating. There were some things that I wish we had (like the protection from rain and the work-system) and some things that seemed less desirable, some things that Bellamy got kind of right and some that were really off. While I loved all this information about this possible, what now would be alternative present, this book is basically just info dump and there is very very little story to it, what can make the book feel longer than it is. Still, for a book that is solely about explorin Really fascinating. There were some things that I wish we had (like the protection from rain and the work-system) and some things that seemed less desirable, some things that Bellamy got kind of right and some that were really off. While I loved all this information about this possible, what now would be alternative present, this book is basically just info dump and there is very very little story to it, what can make the book feel longer than it is. Still, for a book that is solely about exploring ideas, I kinda liked the characters and was engaged enough.

  14. 5 out of 5

    erforscherin

    When the popular bookshelves are filled with dystopias as far as the eye can see, sometimes it's nice to try the opposite perspective. And though most utopian works tend to age badly, Bellamy's actually seems to get better with age, because it was both incredibly far-sighted for its time and best of all, still feels like it might just be achievable. The frame story is mostly for show: our protagonist goes to sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000 to a completely-changed world. The Industrial When the popular bookshelves are filled with dystopias as far as the eye can see, sometimes it's nice to try the opposite perspective. And though most utopian works tend to age badly, Bellamy's actually seems to get better with age, because it was both incredibly far-sighted for its time and best of all, still feels like it might just be achievable. The frame story is mostly for show: our protagonist goes to sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000 to a completely-changed world. The Industrial Revolution draws many parallels to our current "99%" protests, of course: too many people working in deplorable conditions to benefit only a select few at the top. But in this timeline, the workers united to create a new, more equal society - and that's where the truly interesting ideas show up. It's a shame that Bellamy has been largely forgotten today, because there's a lot here that's still clever, and still relevant. A strong sense of duty and personal honor is the thread which binds his society together, and jobs-wise results in something like the French "glow-worms" system: the most hazardous or unpleasant jobs provide the greatest honor when performed, and become something desirable instead. And, equally, work is the realm of the young, who are most fiercely competitive for that honor: retirement age comes relatively early so that new generations of young people can move into those positions, and the older ones into other methods of contributing to society, including creative pursuits and mentoring the young. Bellamy describes all of this in much more detail (perhaps overwhelmingly so), but it's a solid premise, and an intriguing one. For fans of H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and other early science-fiction authors, the technology described here will be a small delight: Bellamy's rapturous vision of distant orchestras that can be heard at the touch of a button is, of course, today's mundane radio; and it's no real stretch to interpret his description of the elaborate warehouse and shipping system for clothes and fabrics as online shopping, one hundred years before its time. What imagination! I consider this book to be one of the small, forgotten gems among the classics, and can't recommend it enough. If you can look past the occasional long-winded sermon (both figurative and, on one occasion, literal), there's a lot of good ideas, and a lot more to think about. Especially on the subjects of politics and economics, Looking Backward remains remarkably timely - if nothing else, perhaps only to remind us that our present-day troubles are just a variation on a much older theme, and that hope for better solutions is still out there.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hayden

    Boy, Bellamy was idealistic. Of course, I have the advantage of truly "Looking Backward": the year 2000, in which this book takes place, was eighteen years ago. Bellamy's 1887 predictions, therefore, seem utterly implausible and laughably optimistic, although I also offer my opinion that his blueprint for utopia is also horrendously unattractive and restricting. Even though I have the privilege of living in his future, I don't think a lot of my issues with the book depend on my "futuristic" knowl Boy, Bellamy was idealistic. Of course, I have the advantage of truly "Looking Backward": the year 2000, in which this book takes place, was eighteen years ago. Bellamy's 1887 predictions, therefore, seem utterly implausible and laughably optimistic, although I also offer my opinion that his blueprint for utopia is also horrendously unattractive and restricting. Even though I have the privilege of living in his future, I don't think a lot of my issues with the book depend on my "futuristic" knowledge: it's very, very easy to find holes in Bellamy's reasoning. For instance, in this new world, jails are obsolete because there is no temptation to commit crime, as everyone has the same opportunities and wealth. There are only hospitals for those, like kleptomaniacs, for whom crime is a mental illness. Yet this reasoning completely neglects other aspects of human nature- jealousy in relationships, for example. You might have the same wealth as your neighbor, but you can't exactly have his wife. After all, how many murders today are committed, not due to economic sources, but marital and romance-related ones? I can't imagine a world like his that is not without some corruption; we as humans always want more. We fight about politics, religion, and other differences of opinion, and a socialistic, "equal" society simply cannot get rid of that, unless it lulls us all with mind-numbing drugs or something. Basically, what I'm saying is this book is frustrating because it makes you want to get into an ultimately pointless argument about politics and human nature with a man who has been dead for over a hundred years, and whose hope for 2000s society has already been proven wrong by time. The book does get an extra star for imagination, although my firm anti-socialist stance aside, it would still get points off for having basically no plot. But hey, if you're looking for a 19th century work that, while obscure now, was hugely (and perhaps weirdly?) popular and influential on political thought (it even led to a new American political party!), then this book is at least worth reading for its historical merit.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Forget Nostradamus--Bellamy predicted shopping malls, credit cards and cars in his fictitious time-traveling story written in 1887 and looking forward to the year 2000 ("In the Year Two-Thousaaaannnnndddd....in the Year Two-ThousAAAAANNNNDDDD!") While some of his more optimistic and Utopian fantasies aren't realized by modern society and Bellamy's writing drags a bit in places, it's fun and carefree without the bitter aftertaste of 1984 or Brave New World looming over like storm clouds. Forget Nostradamus--Bellamy predicted shopping malls, credit cards and cars in his fictitious time-traveling story written in 1887 and looking forward to the year 2000 ("In the Year Two-Thousaaaannnnndddd....in the Year Two-ThousAAAAANNNNDDDD!") While some of his more optimistic and Utopian fantasies aren't realized by modern society and Bellamy's writing drags a bit in places, it's fun and carefree without the bitter aftertaste of 1984 or Brave New World looming over like storm clouds.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dean Summers

    Edward Bellamy is a distant relative of a friend of mine. Until my friend sent me a link to a Wikipedia article about Uncle Ed, I’d never heard of him. But I thought I’d take a look at one of his books, which I was to learn was one of the most popular, most influential books of late Nineteenth and early Twentieth-Century America. Indeed, all over America it spawned Bellamy clubs devoted to promoting Edward Bellamy’s social theories. Looking Backward was written in 1887. By the magic of imaginatio Edward Bellamy is a distant relative of a friend of mine. Until my friend sent me a link to a Wikipedia article about Uncle Ed, I’d never heard of him. But I thought I’d take a look at one of his books, which I was to learn was one of the most popular, most influential books of late Nineteenth and early Twentieth-Century America. Indeed, all over America it spawned Bellamy clubs devoted to promoting Edward Bellamy’s social theories. Looking Backward was written in 1887. By the magic of imagination, it looks backward onto 1887 from the year 2000. It anticipates, for America and for the greater part of the world, a workers’ paradise that arrives, not by violence, but by the good common sense of people everywhere who, when the time is ripe, give in to the irresistible force of social evolution. For me, part of the fun of the book was the way it sometimes resonated, sometimes clashed, with four other works: Plato’s The Republic, Voltaire’s Candide, Marx’ The Communist Manifesto, and Skinner’s Walden II. In Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy is by turn clairvoyant (he anticipates the credit card, electronic home entertainment, and a Walmart-style shopping center), incisive (his critique of capitalism is on target), quaint (he imagines that all Americans will eventually adopt the fashions, the manners, and the values of the Nineteenth-Century American privileged class), naïve (he believes you can end human rivalry by eliminating the perceived need for rivalry), chauvinistic (his view of women is of sugar and spice and everything nice), pedantic (he has given us one talkie book!), sweet (he breaks up the talk with the story of a budding romance), and engaging (for all the talk, and for all the odd little quirks, he keeps you reading). But, most of all, from the perspective of the actual, factual Twenty-First Century, in Looking Backward, Bellamy is profoundly disturbing. By Bellamy’s reckoning, there should never have been a Great War, but there was. There should never have been a Russian Revolution, but there was. There should never have been a Great Depression, or a Second World War, or the atrocities of National Socialism, or any such, year after year after year. There should never have been a Stalin, or a Hitler, or a Mao, or any of their ilk, year after year after year. But there have been. So, why? That it so urgently raises that one question is why Looking Backward remains relevant this side of the year 2000.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lost Planet Airman

    Mi gramigo* jamesboogie’s review here really captures what I found in Looking Backwards. Well, I did it on audio, so it wasn’t hard, and the narrator made the pontification smooth and educational. I’d add a couple quick notes: - Does anybody else think the main character is a weirdo? He sleeps in hidden vault he had built where he is visited evenings by a “mesmerist” so he can sleep. He’s an oblivious one-percenter who keeps a box of gold buried in his bedroom, and he falls in love a week after l Mi gramigo* jamesboogie’s review here really captures what I found in Looking Backwards. Well, I did it on audio, so it wasn’t hard, and the narrator made the pontification smooth and educational. I’d add a couple quick notes: - Does anybody else think the main character is a weirdo? He sleeps in hidden vault he had built where he is visited evenings by a “mesmerist” so he can sleep. He’s an oblivious one-percenter who keeps a box of gold buried in his bedroom, and he falls in love a week after losing his fiancee and his old world forever. - Despite tremendous equality among the classes, Doctor Leete is pretty, “elite”. - Oh, yeah. Women are still second class citizens, ornamental, desireable and destined for motherhood. How radical! Glad to have read it, and Bellamy has a pretty smooth prose style, but also glad it is done. * “mee grah-MEE-goh”, n, my GoodReads AMIGO.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    In college, I took a class on Political Literature--a class designed to expose political and historical thoughts and feelings through literature. This would have been an excellent addition to such a class's curriculum, as I feel it is more political commentary disguised as fiction than it is fiction about politics. Looking Backward is the story of a man who goes to sleep in 1887 Boston, and wakes up in 2000 Boston. (It is fiction, remember so this kind of jump can happen.) He awakens and learns o In college, I took a class on Political Literature--a class designed to expose political and historical thoughts and feelings through literature. This would have been an excellent addition to such a class's curriculum, as I feel it is more political commentary disguised as fiction than it is fiction about politics. Looking Backward is the story of a man who goes to sleep in 1887 Boston, and wakes up in 2000 Boston. (It is fiction, remember so this kind of jump can happen.) He awakens and learns of the incredible advancements society has made. Indeed every person is cared for, every person works, there are no poor, there are no crimes. The president serves 1 five year term (after being voted in my the army), and Congress meets but once every few years--and really doesn't make any new laws. Every man and woman is taken care of, given the same amount of 'credit' (money is a bad term, but it is essentially the same thing--a card that gets the same amount put onto it every month, and it isn't allowed to accumulate) regardless of how much they work or what they do. The genders are equal. People seem happy. While it sounds like socialism, Bellamy is clear on this point: it is not. In fact it is capitalism. Extreme capitalism not in the way of Freidman and his associates, but capitalism in that everyone in the nation (and all nations by this point are run this way because it just makes more sense) works for one company--the nation. The county produces everything, and everyone gets an equal share. If there are certain types of work that are harder than others, those occupations work less hours. An interesting look into how the evolution of capitalism does not have to mean only a few at the top succeeding, but in fact, the evolution and support of us all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    Edward Bellamy's socialist utopian novel Looking Backward tells the story of a Boston man who is placed in a mesmeric trance in 1887 and awakens in the year 2000. While he was entranced, the United States and much of the world has undergone major transformations, chiefly in economic and social organization. Most of the book is exposition, as the protagonist, Julian West, learns about the new, improved Boston from his rescuer, Dr. Leete. The Boston of the future is a utopia of organization, equal Edward Bellamy's socialist utopian novel Looking Backward tells the story of a Boston man who is placed in a mesmeric trance in 1887 and awakens in the year 2000. While he was entranced, the United States and much of the world has undergone major transformations, chiefly in economic and social organization. Most of the book is exposition, as the protagonist, Julian West, learns about the new, improved Boston from his rescuer, Dr. Leete. The Boston of the future is a utopia of organization, equality, and freedom. A very small portion of the novel is dedicated to putting this exposition in the context of an actual plot, in which Julian West falls in love (it's not very compelling). The ideas Bellamy puts forth in this novel are interesting, both for his contemporaries and for myself. Looking Backward was a bestseller in its time, following only Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur in popularity. People organized societies to discuss and try to put his ideas into practice, utopian communities were founded based on his principles, and several major thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th century were influenced by the ideas of Bellamy's novel. For myself, I am drawn to the anti-capitalist rhetoric of the book and its concern with social equality. He builds his argument on the idea of the brotherhood of man, saying, through the voice of Dr. Leete, "Every man, however solitary may seem his occupation, is a member of a vast industrial partnership, as large as the nation, as large as humanity. The necessity of mutual dependence should imply the duty and guarantee of mutual support" (105). Furthermore, he continues, "the solidarity of the race and the brotherhood of man, which to you were but fine phrases, are, to our thinking and feeling, ties as real and as vital as physical fraternity" (106). Given this, the Boston of the 19th century must be seen in terms of horror and death. During one venture into 1887 Boston, West says, "Presently, too, as I observed the wretched beings about me more closely, I perceived that they were all quite dead. Their bodies were so many living sepulchres. On each brutal brow was plainly written the hic jacet of a soul dead within. As I looked, horror struck, from one death's head to another, I was affected by a singular hallucination. Like a wavering translucent spirit face superimposed upon each of these brutish masks I saw the ideal, the possible face that would have been the actual if mind and soul had lived. . . . Therefore now I found upon my garments the blood of this great multitude of strangled souls of my brothers. The voice of their blood cried out against me from the ground. Every stone of the reeking pavements, every brick of the pestilential rookeries, found a tongue and called after me as I fled: What has thou done with thy brother Abel?" (266). Bellamy's description of the inequalities of the 19th century are the most interesting and vivid part of the book; his descriptions of the utopia of 2000 are not only less interesting and vivid (utopias are generally hard to bring to life anyway) but in some crucial ways unappealing. Although the idea of the brotherhood of man and the equality that concretizing this brotherhood brings really appeals to me, the particulars of this society are troubling in their insistent uniformity, apparent authoritarianism, and nationalism. All neighborhoods look the same, the government has absorbed all private interests, and the "national party" aims to "justify patriotism and raise it from an instinct to a rational devotion, by making the native land truly a father land, a father who kept the people alive and was not merely an idol for which they were expected to die" (207). Apparently, I am more of an anarchist than I thought (speaking of which, Bellamy dismisses anarchism as a mere tool of capitalism, a way to keep real reform from occurring). Another element of Bellamy's utopian future that is both promising and troubling is the place of women in society. On the one hand, he makes an argument for freer personal relationships and the inclusion of women in the workplace, which is a really positive move for an author of the 1880s; on the other hand, however, he manages to remain firmly entrenched in traditional ideas about gender, including separate spheres for men and women and the concepts of women as simultaneously weaker and better than men. Dr. Leete explains that of course women work, just as men do; in fact, he says, they "have a women general-in-chief and are under exclusively feminine regime" and "the hours of women's work are considerably shorter than those of men's, more frequent vacations are granted, and the most careful provision is made for rest when needed. The men of this day so well appreciate that they owe to the beauty and grace of women the chief zest of their lives and their main incentive to effort, that they permit them to work at all only because it is fully understood that a certain regular requirement of labor, of a sort adapted to their powers, is well for body and mind, during the period of maximum physical vigor" (210). He continues in this vein, saying, "We have given them a world of their own, with its emulations, ambitions, and careers, and I assure you they are very happy with it" (211). Despite the weakness and separateness this reveals, and despite the condescension that appears to still come from men, women in this utopia "have risen to the full height of their responsibility as the wardens of the world to come, to whose keeping the keys of the future are confided. Their feeling of duty in this respect amounts to a sense of religious consecration. It is a cult in which they educate their daughters from childhood" (220). Together with Bellamy's statements that "women who have been both wives and mothers . . . alone fully represent their sex" (213) and that "it is in giving full play to the differences of sex rather than in seeking to obliterate them, as was apparently the effort of some reformers in your day, that the enjoyment of each by itself and the piquancy which each has for the other, are alike enhanced" (211), this statement about women's responsibility and religious consecration looks ahead to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's glorification of motherhood and women's society in Herland, another major American utopian text that links socialism and a form of feminism.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeroen

    I started reading Edward Bellamy's classic utopian novel Looking Backward on a three-hour train ride back home. It was night, dark outside, and my eyes flitted from the screen of my e-reader to the dark void outside and back. I like to peer out at the towns the train passes so furtively, reduced by speed, distance and time of day to a few lights strewn across the landscape. When I sit in a train and look outside, I cannot help but turn into the stereotypical dreamy passenger. The reflective surf I started reading Edward Bellamy's classic utopian novel Looking Backward on a three-hour train ride back home. It was night, dark outside, and my eyes flitted from the screen of my e-reader to the dark void outside and back. I like to peer out at the towns the train passes so furtively, reduced by speed, distance and time of day to a few lights strewn across the landscape. When I sit in a train and look outside, I cannot help but turn into the stereotypical dreamy passenger. The reflective surface of the window seems to positively invite reflection. The plot of Looking Backward is extremely straightforward. A man, Josiah West, who suffers from insomnia has a soundproof basement bedroom made for him, and uses mesmerism to fall asleep. One night as he does so the house above him catches fire, in which the servant who was supposed to wake him perishes, and he ends up sleeping for days and months and years and decades until finally, in 2000, the chamber is found and he steps into the future (in perfect health). It's a bit much to call Looking Backward a novel, and I think it would probably be more appreciated by modern audiences if it were considered as a document capturing the spirit of the times in which it was written, the political turmoil of the fin-de-siècle. Most of it is filled with tedious harangues comparing Bellamy's brightly lit future with the horrors of the present (isn't the present always, as if almost by default, horrible?). It's telling, too, that in his explanations Bellamy largely glosses over how the utopian society came to be (he offers a vague explanation of businesses conglomerating until they just become one state-run “company” and talks of one unlikely angelic generation which “laid aside the social traditions and practices of barbarians, and assumed a social order worthy of rational and human beings”). While there are many holes to poke in Bellamy's collectivist society anyway, and history has already taken care of deflating those dreams, it still strikes me that it is a far easier job to describe a spurious perfect society than to describe how we can get there. For all its optimism, Bellamy's future reads to me like one of those modernist nightmares of eerie perfection. It makes me uncomfortable perhaps precisely because it would be well-nigh heavenly – the “uncanny valley” version of heaven. It reminds me of an apt description of Facebook I recently read: “Like a New Urbanist dream neighborhood where every lamppost and shrub seems unnervingly designed to please you, there's a soullessness about the place. The software's primary attributes - its omniscience, its solicitousness – all too easily provoke claustrophobia. Bellamy's futuristic inhabitants opined that “it would be considered an extraordinary imbecility to permit the weather to have any effect on the social movements of the people.” In this sense he certainly seems prescient, because I reckon many people feel that way, and we certainly live in a society in which being comfortably numb is something to strive for. But me personally, I'd rather just get soaked every once in a while. All throughout Looking Backward, I am reminded of Raoul Vaneigem's slogan: “Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom.” Still, “hindsight is better than foresight”, as Bellamy himself remarks, and it is all too easy to look back and say that he was wrong and/or naïve. What touched me, staring out of that train window, was that I was reading the words of a dreamer of more than a century ago, and that his dreams were still pure. I could all too easily imagine Bellamy, in overly formal 19th century garments, sitting in his padded room, looking out over gray, gray England, pondering better days ahead. It is the same beautiful optimism that is written all over the various art movements of the early 20th century; a belief that better times were to come, if we could only get our act together. And here I was, a 21st century dreamer, and I couldn't believe in any of that. Maybe that's just me, but I'm not so sure. Habermas once wrote of an “exhaustion of utopian energies” in our age. Utopias just don't seem very fruitful in these times of effectivity and rationality. These are hard times for dreamers. They will have to dream back first, to the age of Bellamy, in order to dream forward again with the same gusto our forefathers had. STRANGER I should be a fool not to know that I cannot seem to you as other men of your own generation do, but as some strange uncanny being, a stranded creature of an unknown sea, whose forlornness touches your compassion despite its grotesqueness."- Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward But what touched me most of all, despite the fact that the plot here is like a footnote to the politics, is the horrible predicament and fate of the story's protagonist. He becomes, as Dutch author Hella Haasse phrased it, “forever a stranger”, homeless in mind if not in body. Both the future Boston he ambles through wide-eyed and his own Boston whose social order now repulses him are ultimately beyond him. and I can't remember if I read or dreamed about them- a sect on the Mayflower called the Strangers- four or five adults who gathered in the hold and spoke to no one through the three month passage. When the boats landed on the beach they walked into the North American forest and were never seen again.- David Berman, “World: Series”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jose Moa

    This book of 1887 by Edward Bellamy is the other socialist utophy together with News from Nowhere by Morris written in 1990 as a reaction to the book of Bellamy. There are differences with the book of Morris in the sense that of the Bellamy is more statalist and centralist oriented and the Morris book is more on the side of anarchism,on the other side in the Morris book there is a concern for the stetic,environement ,a love for the nature that there is not in the book of Bellamy and in this the r This book of 1887 by Edward Bellamy is the other socialist utophy together with News from Nowhere by Morris written in 1990 as a reaction to the book of Bellamy. There are differences with the book of Morris in the sense that of the Bellamy is more statalist and centralist oriented and the Morris book is more on the side of anarchism,on the other side in the Morris book there is a concern for the stetic,environement ,a love for the nature that there is not in the book of Bellamy and in this the religion plays not role. I pesonally find more atractive the utophy of Morris that that one of Bellamy. The book of bellamy has a detailed credible explanation of a planified,centraliced statalist economy without money and the international trade in a globaliced utophy, and the social structure,also is detailed the subject of retirement in the 45 years old,the job as a duty,the universal unified education till 21 years,the role of woman and her almost (for the parameters of to day) liberation and equality of genders,the practic inexistence of crime and justice system and the inexistence of jails,armies and wars. The problem as in all utophies is the excesive optimism in posing all the problems of human bahavior in the economy and education as if all the capital sins : envy,excesive ambition of power,lust,asociability and so on would have its roots in poverty or ignorance,as usually the problem is the human factor. This book has striking features as the important role played by religion (a christian socialist utophy?,i supose the creences of the author influenced the book),the pacific reach of the utophic state by the way of the monopolistic concentration of the industrial and agrarian production and a sort of enlightement of the humans. The book also have anticipation ideas as in a Verne novel as for example the use of the credit card and the centraliced sells and distribution of goods(think in Amazon or in other superstores)yer dont consider scientific progress,only in urbanism and comunications A well developed socialist utophy,but for my taste too centraliced and lacks of the poetry,beauty and love for the nature that has that one of Morris

  23. 4 out of 5

    Orion

    Looking Backward, while written over 120 years ago, is about what the author envisioned the 21st century could have been like if the USA had embraced Socialist principles. Very popular when it was written (right up there with Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben Hur), it is about a young 19th century upper class white man's surprising re-introduction to society when he wakes up from a 113 year nap at the dawn of the 21st century. Similar to Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Woody Allen's Sleeper in Looking Backward, while written over 120 years ago, is about what the author envisioned the 21st century could have been like if the USA had embraced Socialist principles. Very popular when it was written (right up there with Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben Hur), it is about a young 19th century upper class white man's surprising re-introduction to society when he wakes up from a 113 year nap at the dawn of the 21st century. Similar to Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" and Woody Allen's Sleeper in plot structure but told without parody or humor, in Looking Backward the world has changed dramatically while our hero slept. Bellamy's hero is awakened by a retired doctor and his wife and daughter when they find him sleeping in a chamber under their garden. This family slowly introduces him to the wonders of a modern Socialist state where the nation is the only employer and the people's army works for the common good. Each chapter explores a different aspect of this modern cooperative society. Chapter 15 describes Bellamy's vision of the future of publishing, 16 discusses art, 19 is devoted to law, and 20 to education. The ideas are mostly presented through dialogs with the doctor with few actual visits and interactions. Economic progress is stressed over technological change. Written before the Great Depression, Communism, National Socialism, two World Wars and the Holocaust, Bellamy's book blames much of the world's problems on social inequality and the pursuit of personal gain. He envisions the United States leading the world into a just brotherhood where humans work together for the common good. It is interesting to read today Bellamy's vision of looking back from an alternative world that never came into being although fervently desired by many at the time. For Bellamy and his readers the enemy was Capitalism and salvation was to be had in Communism and National Socialism. He envisions a world where these ideas were embraced by the USA instead of Stalin and Hitler and led to a Utopian society.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erica Clou

    This is not really a book of fiction, as there’s no plot to speak of except showing the protagonist around the future. It’s really just Bellamy’s well-intentioned hope for a future utopia. It’s actually a lot like the StarTrek vision without any technology whatsoever. Of course, unlike Bellamy, we have the benefit of understanding the failure of the centralized Russian economy. We also have the benefit of knowing about the internet in general and Amazon.com specifically. And while Bellamy’s idea This is not really a book of fiction, as there’s no plot to speak of except showing the protagonist around the future. It’s really just Bellamy’s well-intentioned hope for a future utopia. It’s actually a lot like the StarTrek vision without any technology whatsoever. Of course, unlike Bellamy, we have the benefit of understanding the failure of the centralized Russian economy. We also have the benefit of knowing about the internet in general and Amazon.com specifically. And while Bellamy’s ideas about feminism were a little off the mark, I really appreciated his solid attempt at equalizing women, particularly with his streamlined maternity leave and easy reentry to the workplace.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I read this book many years ago, and what I remember most about it, and one thing I loved about it, was how it made me think about what was most worthwhile in life and what was not. I found the book thought provoking, and it was fun to read also.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Alfonseca

    ENGLISH: The narrator falls in a hypnotic trance in 1887 and awakes 113 years later, in the year 2000. The Boston he discovers, which he describes in detail, is very different from the one he knew, for the 19th century industrial society in the U.S. has changed into a new advanced and Utopian society based on the nationalization of industry. Bellamy believes in the myth of indefinite progress, as is clear in his preface to this novel: The almost universal theme of the writers and orators who have ENGLISH: The narrator falls in a hypnotic trance in 1887 and awakes 113 years later, in the year 2000. The Boston he discovers, which he describes in detail, is very different from the one he knew, for the 19th century industrial society in the U.S. has changed into a new advanced and Utopian society based on the nationalization of industry. Bellamy believes in the myth of indefinite progress, as is clear in his preface to this novel: The almost universal theme of the writers and orators who have celebrated this bimillennial epoch has been the future rather than the past, not the advance that has been made, but the progress that shall be made, ever onward and upward, till the race shall achieve its ineffable destiny. This is well, wholly well... So, not just an indefinite progress, but a progress towards "our ineffable destiny." He also believes, like Rousseau, that "man is good, but society makes him evil," and therefore thinks that a change in society can deal away with most evil in human beings. It seems surprising that, being a Calvinist, Bellamy seemed to have forgotten about original sin, and its effect on human nature. Bellamy's utopia is quite similar to Thomas More's "Utopia", except because More located his utopia in a remote island and Bellamy in the future. In both cases, the new society has abolished money (in Bellamy's case replaced by credits, the same for every citizen) and therefore cannot use different wages as incentives to make people work. Instead, honors and public distinctions reward those who do their utmost for the common good. This is one of the main weaknesses of both utopias, as was shown in the USSR by the failure of Stakhanovism. A few of Bellamy's proposals for a better organization of society are quite reasonable, and I'd like to see them implemented. I am not surprised that this book gave rise to the creation of Bellamy Clubs, which tried to put those ideas into practice. However, some of his predictions have taken place inside the capitalist system that Bellamy abhors. One observation: although many of Bellamy's predictions for the year 2000 have not come true, he was correct in the fact that the United States remains one of the very few countries in the world that has not adopted the Metric Decimal System. But the end of Bellamy's novel surprised me. ESPAÑOL: El narrador cae en un trance hipnótico en 1887 y despierta 113 años después, en el año 2000. El Boston que descubre, y que describe en detalle, es muy diferente al que él conoció, pues la sociedad industrial decimonónica de los Estados Unidos se ha transformado en una sociedad avanzada y utópica, basada en la nacionalización de la industria. Bellamy cree en el mito del progreso indefinido, como queda claro en su prólogo para esta novela: El tema casi universal de los escritores y oradores que han celebrado el bimilenario ha enfocado más el futuro que el pasado, no ya los avances que se han hecho, sino el progreso que vendrá, siempre hacia adelante y hacia arriba, hasta que nuestra raza alcance su destino inefable. Esto está bien, totalmente bien... Así que no solo cree en el progreso indefinido, sino en un progreso hacia "nuestro destino inefable". También cree, con Rousseau, que "el hombre es bueno, pero la sociedad lo hace malo" y por tanto piensa que un cambio en la sociedad puede poner punto final a casi todo el mal entre los hombres. Parece sorprendente que, siendo calvinista, Bellamy parezca haber olvidado el pecado original y su efecto sobre la naturaleza humana. La utopía de Bellamy es bastante similar a la "Utopía" de Tomás Moro, excepto porque Moro la localizó en una isla remota y Bellamy en el futuro. En ambos casos, la nueva sociedad ha abolido el dinero (reemplazado por créditos en el caso de Bellamy, los mismos para todos los ciudadanos) y por lo tanto no puede utilizar como incentivos distintas escalas de sueldos para que la gente trabaje. Como recompensa para quienes hacen todo lo posible por el bien común, se conceden honores y distinciones públicas. Esta es una de las principales debilidades de ambas utopías, como se comprobó en la URSS con el fracaso del Estajanovismo. Algunas de las propuestas de Bellamy para una organización mejor de la sociedad son bastante razonables y me gustaría verlas implementadas. No me sorprende que este libro diera lugar a la creación de Clubs Bellamy, que intentaron poner en práctica esas ideas. Sin embargo, algunas de sus predicciones se han cumplido sin abandonar el sistema capitalista que Bellamy aborrece. Es interesante señalar que, aunque muchas de las predicciones de Bellamy para el año 2000 no se han cumplido, sí acertó el detalle de que los Estados Unidos siguen siendo uno de los poquísimos países del mundo que no han adoptado el Sistema Métrico Decimal. Pero el final de la novela de Bellamy consiguió sorprenderme.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    That was really quite good, close to giving it 4 stars. I mean it's still just a utopian plan, there is a frame of story and frankly a little more than i felt was necessary but the main parts are just a description of a future socialist utopia. Nothing too groundbreaking or that i havn't read before but delivered with some style. There's a really good metaphor at the start and many interesting ideas throughout. I'm not sure why this above other utopias causes such reactions as it apparently did, That was really quite good, close to giving it 4 stars. I mean it's still just a utopian plan, there is a frame of story and frankly a little more than i felt was necessary but the main parts are just a description of a future socialist utopia. Nothing too groundbreaking or that i havn't read before but delivered with some style. There's a really good metaphor at the start and many interesting ideas throughout. I'm not sure why this above other utopias causes such reactions as it apparently did, other than possibly the effectiveness of its delivery. Looking forward (pun intended) to the counter arguments Looking Further Forward and Looking Beyond. Edit: Apparently there's another counterbook News from Nowhere, i'll add it to my list :) .

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary JL

    I listed this under fiction. It is also considered by some 'science fiction" but actually, there is very little of interest to the sf fan here. Basically, after 113 years sleeping, our hero wakes up in a future Boston, and the books lectures at length on Bellamy's idea of social and political utopia. I read it becase of its historical listing as an early attempt at science fiction, and found it very slow moving indeed. Quite dated; quite shallow and lots of economic and political chit chat with ve I listed this under fiction. It is also considered by some 'science fiction" but actually, there is very little of interest to the sf fan here. Basically, after 113 years sleeping, our hero wakes up in a future Boston, and the books lectures at length on Bellamy's idea of social and political utopia. I read it becase of its historical listing as an early attempt at science fiction, and found it very slow moving indeed. Quite dated; quite shallow and lots of economic and political chit chat with very little story. If you are interested in early sf or utopian books, you might try it but it is not really very interesting at all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    sdw

    Julian West was an insomniac. Unable to sleep, he used his wealth to construct a fabulous sound-proof light-proof underground bedroom that only his servant Sawyer knew about. He hired an animal mangetist to put him to sleep with the understanding that he would be awakened by Sawyer in the morning. Unfortunately his house burned down in the middle of the night. No one awakened him. He was safe in the room that no one knew about but was presumed dead. One-hundred and thirteen years later, a man do Julian West was an insomniac. Unable to sleep, he used his wealth to construct a fabulous sound-proof light-proof underground bedroom that only his servant Sawyer knew about. He hired an animal mangetist to put him to sleep with the understanding that he would be awakened by Sawyer in the morning. Unfortunately his house burned down in the middle of the night. No one awakened him. He was safe in the room that no one knew about but was presumed dead. One-hundred and thirteen years later, a man doing construction on the grounds of his old home found him and awakened him. This highly influential novel is the quintessential utopian vision. Julian West awakens to socialism in the year 2000. Most of the novel consists of him asking Dr. Leete, the man who found him, “How does shopping happen now?” “Who goes to college now?” and hearing long answers. It sounds dreadfully boring but I was captivated. Reading this novel allowed me to see its power and better grapple with its influence. This is not a socialist utopia as one would imagine it now. It is shockingly centralized and lacks democracy. The special role of those with particular talents for the arts reminded me vaguely and uncomfortably of Ayn Rand, even as Bellamy conceived of all men and women as aspiring towards a greatness of spirit with a lifetime love of learning and passion for the arts. Since men and women retire at 45 and remain fully supported by the state for the duration, they have time to grow in their own means. Work in the industrial army (for there is no other army) is the greatest service to the state. Life stands still. It is so perfect that congress needs to make no laws. Conditions do not change. The industrial army is regulated, prices are regulated, but nothing really changes. Societal stasis has been achieved. Women can work. But the highest respect is given to women who have been both mothers and wives. Women work easier jobs with more vacation time than army. They are not part of the regular industrial army but have their own auxiliary branch. Men worship women’s role as the caretakers of the world so much that men only allow women to work because it is mentally and emotionally good for every human to have a job. This is a vision embracing older troubled notions of respecting women, based on a gender binary and with no interest in true equality. I found this fascinating rather than troubling, due to its year of publication and wide influence. Oh, and the novel is told with the superficial frame of a silly unengaging love story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    El

    Julian West falls into a hypnosis-induced sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the same place (Boston, MA), but in the year 2000. Living in the home now is Dr. Leete and his wife, and their lovely daughter, Edith. As Julian tries to accept his new reality, the Leetes offer their assistance by explaining the changes which have occurred since Julian first went to sleep in the late nineteenth century. The result is a utopian novel written in 1888, well ahead of its time. Bellamy suggests a socialist socie Julian West falls into a hypnosis-induced sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the same place (Boston, MA), but in the year 2000. Living in the home now is Dr. Leete and his wife, and their lovely daughter, Edith. As Julian tries to accept his new reality, the Leetes offer their assistance by explaining the changes which have occurred since Julian first went to sleep in the late nineteenth century. The result is a utopian novel written in 1888, well ahead of its time. Bellamy suggests a socialist society much altered from what Julian experienced in his own day. Bellamy had an idea of a credit card on which every person is allotted the same amount annually. As everyone is paid the same there is no risk of competition in or outside of the workplace, and as everyone retires by the age of 45 there is plenty of time a person is able to live within whatever means one wishes. Men and women are on a more equal playing field, though Bellamy was unable to shake the common stereotypes of his time - in 2000 his women still loved to shop, though the difference is that in 2000 there are not a variety of shops to peruse: There are warehouses in which samples are shown, and each warehouse is identical so there is no option of shopping for better quality or prices; once a choice of an item is made in the warehouse it is sent directly to the patron's home, significantly cutting down on the middleman of consumerism. Bellamy also had the foresight to predict somewhat of a radio on which music and sermons may be played at any of time of the day, removing the requirement of needing to leave ones home in order to listen to classical music or forced to go to church. While I enjoyed the theories Bellamy suggested in 1888, the way he wrote his novel sometimes felt a little too self-guidey in that he made his ideas too heavy-handed, almost preachy. Still, his ideas were good and we would probably benefit from making some of the changes suggested in his book. As mentioned in the introduction positive changes were made by some of Bellamy's contemporaries (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Upton Sinclair, etc.), so it may not be such a longshot to put to practice some of his imaginings. I wanted to read this book much faster than I did. I had it with me on our trip but, like many novels written in the late 1800s, it can be exceptionally wordy which made reading on trains and in sporadic moments difficult.

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