Looking Backward
June 17, 2007 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Looking Backward: From 2000 to 1887, a Utopian novel by Edward Bellamy. A classic 19th century socialist vision of the future.
posted by nasreddin (12 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
And howsabout a little News From Nowhere ( or An Epoch of Rest Being Some Chapters From a Utopian Romance) by William Morris while we're at it? Or H. G. Wells' oft overlooked When The Sleeper Wakes (though there we're starting to roll into dystopian territory)?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:29 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Decent book.

Covered sidewalks are a novel idea, and it's too bad he was a few years too early for the invention of the radio, as he kinda described a radio though it was based over the telephone line. His actual ideas, eh.

This was a pretty influential book, from what I've heard. I hear it was considered an extremely powerful book back in the day, not to mention there were Bellamy Clubs and Bellamy became a popular speaker.

Also, fun fact: Edward Bellamy was a cousin to Francis Bellamy, the man who wrote the words to "The Pledge of Allegiance"
posted by champthom at 7:36 PM on June 17, 2007

Also, Wilde's classic essay "The Soul of Man Under Socialism."
posted by nasreddin at 7:36 PM on June 17, 2007

The amazing thing is that he correctly predicted that Dippin' Dots would replace all other forms of ice cream.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 7:38 PM on June 17, 2007

I put this in the "How has this never been FPPed before?" category. I read the book as a kid, it has some neat predictions of the future, like grates in everyone's parlor where music could be piped in from a central location (radio?), and also some crazy socialist ideas. Oh, and the idea of baseball teams being organized by industry, rather than region, has also seemed cool to me (e.g. the Steelers versus the Carpenters, with the winners taking on the Lawyers).
posted by sdrawkcab at 7:38 PM on June 17, 2007

Here it is on Gutenberg. I'm syncing it to my Palm as a PDB DOC for eReader right now. Retrofuture visions are such fun; that's why I keep an eye on Paleo-Future for stuff like this.
posted by brownpau at 8:12 PM on June 17, 2007

That book almost bored me as much as The Jungle.

Now for some good futurist utopia writing, check out The New Atlantis and the Great Instauration.
posted by chlorus at 8:28 PM on June 17, 2007

Your favorite public-domain literature sucks.

And in Poland, beyond the watchful eye of Soviet Russia, Samisdat sucked YOU.

posted by Smart Dalek at 8:29 PM on June 17, 2007

I remember reading this in my teens. I can't say it had too much of an impact on me, but I was impressed at what he had gotten right.

Reason magazine: Looking Back at Looking Backward
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:33 PM on June 17, 2007

Wow. Thanks. This is one of the 1500 books that came with the House Full O'Crap we bought. I put it aside on a shelf and forgot about it until you posted this. I think I'll browse through it now that I've remembered it!
posted by jeanmari at 10:19 PM on June 17, 2007

Here it is at Internet Archive, scanned edition from 1917 (for those who like historical fonts and formating, foxed pages, browning paper etc.. smell and feel not yet included).
posted by stbalbach at 5:27 AM on June 18, 2007

And if you're in Los Angeles, you can visit the extraordinary building inspired by the book.
posted by Scram at 10:30 PM on June 18, 2007

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