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Tilbageblik Aar 2000 (1888)

af Edward Bellamy

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2,736533,989 (3.29)102
Stimulating, thought-provoking utopian fantasy about a young man who's put into a hypnotic trance in the late 19th-century and awakens in the year 2000 to find crime, war and want non-existent.
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Written in 1887, the story of a wealthy man who was mesmerised to sleep in the 19th century, and woke in the 21st century. The author discusses the division of classes, poverty, money, strikes, shopping, music. I enjoyed this book immensely particularly the futuristic descriptions that have now become the past. The ordering of shopping direct from a warehouse is not far off reality, however money being obsolete did not come to pass. Fun quick read. ( )
  AChild | Aug 10, 2021 |
"In 1889, a new political magazine in Boston described plans for an American Revolution of 1950.” Denouncing the “wage slavery” of the Gilded Age, the writers proposed to abolish capitalism and turn the economy over to the people. But this magazine had no connection to the Communist Second International which convened that summer in Paris, and its contributors were hardly members of the industrial proletariat. Rather, they were middle-class reformers who had been radicalized by a work of fiction: Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel Looking Backward, published the previous year.

Probably no cultural work was more responsible for pushing public opinion to the left in the Progressive Era. Decades later, Erich Fromm called Looking Backward “one of the most remarkable books ever published in America,” and William Dean Howells observed that it “virtually founded the Populist Party.” In 1935, when the philosopher John Dewey, the essayist Edward Weeks, and the historian Charles Beard were asked to list the most influential works of the previous half century, they all put Bellamy’s novel in second place, just after Karl Marx’s Kapital. And it was not just appreciated by an intellectual elite — Looking Backward was the third best-selling American book of its time."
(Internet site placesjournal.org)

Bellamy's novel and I suppose it can just about claim to be a novel: there is a love story within, was a success. In the United Stead alone over 162 "Bellamy Clubs" sprang up to propagate the books ideas. In the novel Julian West a young entrepreneur suffers from insomnia and after a succession of sleepless nights he turns to a doctor friend to put him in a trance to help him sleep. The year is 1897 and when he wakes up it is 2000 and the world is a different place. The United States has become one large socialist state, one of many in the world. He finds himself under the protection of Doctor Leete and his family and the good Doctor takes it upon himself to ease Julian into his new life in the year 2000. Boston has become a beautiful city in an Utopia based on Marxist principles. Much of the book is taken up with Doctor Leete showing Julian around the city paying particular attention to how the new industrial society functions. Doctor Leete does not spare his opprobrium for the society from which Julian sprang and sets out to educate his new charge. Here is an example:

"I suppose," observed Dr. Leete, as we strolled homeward from the dining hall, "that no reflection would have cut the men of your wealth-worshiping century more keenly than the suggestion that they did not know how to make money. Nevertheless, that is just the verdict history has passed on them. Their system of unorganized and antagonistic industries was as absurd economically as it was morally abominable. Selfishness was their only science, and in industrial production selfishness is suicide. Competition, which is the instinct of selfishness, is another word for dissipation of energy, while combination is the secret of efficient production; and not till the idea of increasing the individual hoard gives place to the idea of increasing the common stock can industrial combination be realized, and the acquisition of wealth really begin."

Doctor Leete goes into some detail as to how the new wealth creation system works and the biggest divergence from Marxist thought is as to how the world finally came to its senses and how it got there. There was no revolution, no struggle; under the old capitalist system the companies and organisation had become so large that the only way that they could increase wealth was to morph into one large socialist state. Once this process started there was a snowball effect and everyone embraced the concepts of egality and fraternity.

Unlike many other Utopian novels I have read this one is based on logical thought and there is no fly in the ointment. Julian's worst nightmare is that he would return to the Boston of 1897 especially as he falls in love with Doctor Leete's daughter. It is really not much of a novel more a book of ideas, but ideas explained with practical examples that are easy to grasp. Some readers might find it over long at more than 300 pages and of course confirmed subscribers to our capitalist society will not be swayed by what they read. The fact that Bellamy's predictions were so totally wide of the mark did not stop me thinking "if only he could have been right" I would have been more than happy to live in Bellamy's utopia and so 5 stars. ( )
1 stem baswood | Jun 5, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
A Book About the Gilded Age*

If a good book should engage a reader in a debate about its themes, Looking Backward is a good book. Edward Bellamy sends his protagonist, Julian West, forward in time to the year 2000 to witness the social transformation America has undergone in the 113 years since Julian's unusual hypnotic session propels him into the future. The novel is full of criticisms of Julian's original time, the Gilded Age, detailed through the contrasting organization of business and society in the future.

If a good book has a basis in the reality of human nature, Looking Backward fails to qualify. The America of the future is a utopia of social equality where there is no need for money, or armies. Where the citizens of the country have voluntarily migrated to this new arrangement in which the government owns all means of production and distribution, even decides what should be imported from foreign countries. Where all citizens, even children, receive an equal share of the national wealth annually to spend as they see fit (although they are so satisfied with their condition that they are incapable of spending it all). In other words, America has been overrun by non-humans who fervently believe the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one (regards, Mr. Spock) and act in accordance.

Looking Backward is an interesting read which I recommend with caveats. I laughed at Bellamy's thoughts on freedom and equality, because the patriarchy of his day is still in effect in the future. The equivalent of noblesse oblige has been transferred from the wealthy and their obligations to the less-fortunate to men and their treatment of women. If you take offense at patronizing attitudes about the delicacy of women you might skip this book. Even if you can accept travel across time, the novel also contains a fantastic coincidence, which I won't spoil, which overwhelms even the most ludicrous of Bellamy's visions of an enlightened future. If you read and enjoy 18th and 19th century fiction, this twist will be in keeping with those of greater works such as Les Miserables and Jane Eyre. If you need a plot grounded in the semblance of the possible, this book isn't for you. But overall it's an enjoyable book, if for no other reason than to see what Marx might have done as a novelist.

* - I've had to set my themed reading list aside for now, as I'm taking a couple literature classes this summer through a state program that provides free tuition for Texas residents over 55. This novel is assigned for my 19th Century American Literature class focused on the Gilded Age. ( )
1 stem skavlanj | Oct 27, 2020 |
Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is a utopian novel by Edward Bellamy, a journalist and writer from Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; it was first published in 1888. It was the third largest bestseller of its time, after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It influenced many intellectuals, and appears by title in many socialist writings of the day. "It is one of the few books ever published that created almost immediately on its appearance a political mass movement".
  Matthew_Erskine | Jun 6, 2020 |
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Edward Bellamyprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Fromm, Erichmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Miller, Walter JamesIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
s.BENešOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Simon, AnnaFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Zetkin, ClaraOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Preface: Living as we do in the closing year of the twentieth century, enjoying the blessings of a social order at once so simple and logical that it seems but the triumph of common sense, it is, no doubt, difficult for those whose studies have not been largely historical to realize that the present organization of society is, in its completeness, less than a century old.
I first saw the light in the city of Boston in the year 1857.
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Stimulating, thought-provoking utopian fantasy about a young man who's put into a hypnotic trance in the late 19th-century and awakens in the year 2000 to find crime, war and want non-existent.

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