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Edward Bellamy
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Looking Backward: 2000-1887

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  3,695 Ratings  ·  468 Reviews
More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 1st 1982 by Penguin Books (first published 1888)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
...more
Debbie Zapata
Mar 20, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gutenberg
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
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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
...more
Riley
Nov 21, 2009 Riley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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Sarah
Oct 13, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Lorna
Apr 29, 2008 Lorna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teen and older
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 ...more
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
...more
Justin
Nov 30, 2007 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
...more
Daniel
Aug 13, 2007 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Elçin Buket
Jan 26, 2016 Elçin Buket rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
19. yüzyılın iğrençliğini, 21. yüzyılda yaşıyor olsakta hala o igrencligin devam ettigini gösteren çok güzel bir ütopyaydı. 20. yüzyılı kurgulayan bir ütopya oluşu ve 21. yüzyıla gelmiş olsak dahi değisen hiçbir şeyin olmaması çok üzücü. 1880lerden beri değişen hiçbir şey yok, hala sefalet hala açlık hala savaşlar hala birbirlerinin kuyusunu kazıp zenginleşmeye çalışan bir ton insan.
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 ...more
Dean Summers
Aug 27, 2011 Dean Summers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, ideas
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
...more
sdw
Aug 12, 2009 sdw rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Orion
May 28, 2011 Orion rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo-on-palm-pre
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 ...more
Carly
Aug 13, 2011 Carly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mary JL
Nov 30, 2008 Mary JL rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in very early sf
Shelves: fiction-classics
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
...more
Jon(athan) 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.
Jeroen
Jan 03, 2015 Jeroen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
Luke
Sep 09, 2014 Luke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One may easily, and with just reason, I think, quickly "slough off" Looking Backward as a rather mediocre, banal utopian novel employing a rather kitschy love story. Further, I find that Looking Backward does not satisfy me as a piece of political theory; indeed, Bellamy writes with far too many presumptions and hand-waves in order for Looking Backward to qualify as such. However, I still find Looking Backward a worthwhile read. First of all, and the weaker reason, I think, Looking Backward sold ...more
Bukk
This might be the dumbest book I’ve ever read. I respect and understand what Bellamy was trying to do, but for mercy of the reader, don’t try to deliver something like this in a fictional setting if you’re not going to bother making your characters anything more than endlessly chattering names without agency or thought or reflection or personality, who only recite the philosophy of the writer. And don't make it fiction if you don’t have a plot or a story or action or development of some basic a ...more
Sansriti Tripathi
fascinating premise, incredibly boring in its execution.
Carol Fenlon
Jan 26, 2017 Carol Fenlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really looked forward to reading this book, being quite interested in speculative sci-fi and having read about Bellamy and the way the book inspired the growth of a nationalist cult in the turn of 19th century America. Quite a hackneyed plot in which a young man is hypnotised and wakes up a century later in a much changed Boston but it was probably quite new at the time of writing in 1887. Bellamy focusses very much on the social, economic and political structural changes in society which in t ...more
Aawatters
Someone very special asked me to read this, and for that reason it holds a special place in my heart. What I wrote to him a year and a half ago:

Bellamy's book Looking Backward invites the reader to find fault in the author's poor projections. It was very hard for me to read the book without automatically thinking "well, that didn't happen." Starting with the shallow assumption on the author's part that clothing and speech did not change much in 100 years. I'll give him that one because he needs
...more
Andrew Carr
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff
Oct 29, 2011 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an intellectual exercise I found this book to be very engaging and interesting. If you are excited by books that make you think, or attempt to draw you into open-minded perspectives, than I quickly refer you to this book, as it is slim, quick, and at least engaging.

Although the idea of Mr. West's time travel is rather comical (who hasn't fallen asleep for 100 years?) and although I kept waiting for him to deteriorate like Mel Gibson in Forever Young, the actual movement of plot was at first f
...more
Metaphorosis
Looking Backward is more of a socio-economic treatise than a novel. Each chapter essentially picks a point or two (labor, say) and explains how if we only did such and such, utopia would result. That's no surprise - that's pretty much what it says on the back cover. The surprise is that despite this strong concentration of analysis, the framing works surprisingly well. The protagonist, Julian West, comes across as an interesting fellow, and if his coming romance is not exactly a surprise, it's s ...more
Amy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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American author and Christian socialist.

His novel Looking Backward is a widely regarded work of socialist Utopian fiction and was referenced in many Marxist publications of the time.

When it was first published in 1888, its success was behind that of only Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

It inspired a less successful sequel entitled Equality that was more of a political tract t
...more
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“Human history, like all great movements, was cyclical, and returned to the point of beginning. The idea of indefinite progress in a right line was a chimera of the imagination, with no analogue in nature. The parabola of a comet was perhaps a yet better illustration of the career of humanity. Tending upward and sunward from the aphelion of barbarism, the race attained the perihelion of civilization only to plunge downward once more to its nether goal in the regions of chaos.” 14 likes
“Is a man satisfied, merely because he is perfumed himself, to mingle with a malodorous crowd?” 9 likes
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