Looking Backward 2000-1887, Paperback

Looking Backward 2000-1887 Paperback

Edited by Matthew Beaumont

Part of the Oxford World's Classics series

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


'No person can be blamed for refusing to read another word of what promises to be a mere imposition upon his credulity.' Julian West, a feckless aristocrat living in fin-de-siecle Boston, plunges into a deep hypnotic sleep in 1887 and wakes up in the year 2000. America has been turned into a rigorously centralized democratic society in which everything is controlled by a humane and efficient state. In little more than a hundred years the horrors of nineteenth-century capitalism have been all but forgotten.

The squalid slums of Boston have been replaced by broad streets, and technological inventions have transformed people's everyday lives. Exiled from the past, West excitedly settles into the ideal society of the future, while still fearing that he has dreamt up his experiences as a time traveller. Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888) is a thunderous indictment of industrial capitalism and a resplendent vision of life in a socialist utopia. Matthew Beaumont's lively edition explores the political and psychological peculiarities of this celebrated utopian fiction. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe.

Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199552573



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A book I've intended to read for a long time, ever since learning that Edward Bellamy briefly attended Union College (my alma mater) in the late 1860s. Bellamy's book, which attained great popularity (and also significant ridicule) at the time of its publication, is a utopian manifesto wrapped lightly in the threads of a thinly-plotted Victorian romance novel. Bellamy goes to sleep in 1887 and wakes up in 2000 to a Boston much changed, and a bulk of the book is spent in dialogue with his interlocutor about how society has been reformed in the intervening century. Heavy-handed? Yes. A bit clunky? Yes. But also thoroughly interesting to see what a utopia might have looked like to a resident of the 1880s (covered sidewalks, radio broadcasts, centralized production eliminating the need for strikes, &c.).Worth a read as an example of historical utopianism, if nothing else.

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