Looking Backward, 1988-1888: Essays on Edward Bellamy

Looking Backward, 1988-1888: Essays on Edward Bellamy

Looking Backward, 1988-1888: Essays on Edward Bellamy

Looking Backward, 1988-1888: Essays on Edward Bellamy

Excerpt

When Julian West, the proper Bostonian hero of Edward Bellamy's most famous novel, awoke in the year 2000 after a sleep lasting more than a century and began to contemplate his old world in light of the new, a whole generation of Americans woke up with him to the possibilities of change in their country. One hundred years after the publication of Looking Backward 2000-1887, Bellamy continues to be a controversial figure, as the essays in this volume, commemorating the novel's appearance in 1888, attest.

Bellamy (1850-1898) was a cultural critic in the broadest sense of the word, and his work touches on a vast range of concerns. Virtually no aspect of late nineteenth-century life went unrecognized in his utopian novels, Looking Backward and its 1897 sequel Equality, and in his extensive journalism. As social reformer and creative writer, Bellamy combines in his work aspects of life too often treated as opposites: imagination and practicality. More than this, a good deal of Bellamy's scathing attack on the capitalist excesses of his time came from his deep-rooted conviction that ordinary human beings, condemned to a life of labor in conditions of the utmost insecurity and ill health, were thereby prevented from realizing their true potential as creative beings possessed of both intellect and imagination. Avoiding the allocation of personal blame, Bellamy saw the roots of the problem as inherent in social and economic structures that pitted capital against labor for the sake of private profit. He did not flinch from pronouncing a moral judgment upon the system that made rapacious accumulation and indifference to one's fellow beings perfectly rational responses. But in the industrial forces that were rapidly changing American life, he saw the possibility of a massive transformation. While clearly a product of his time, as is evident in many of his ideas, Bellamy was nonetheless capable of going beyond the cherished rationales for inequality that were advanced in his own day--as they still are in ours. Life begins with its material base, he argued again and again, and without economic . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.