First published in 1888, Looking Backward was one of the most popular novels of its day. Translated into more than 20 languages, its utopian fantasy influenced such thinkers as John Dewey, Thorstein Veblen, Eugene V. Debs, and Norman Thomas. Writing from a 19th century perspective and poignantly critical of his own time, Bellamy advanced a remarkable vision of the future, including such daring predictions as the existence of radio, television, motion pictures, credit cards, and covered pedestrian malls.
On the surface, the novel is the story of time-traveler Julian West, a young Bostonian who is put into a hypnotic sleep in the late 19th century, and awakens in the year 2000 in a socialist utopia. In conversations with the doctor who awakened him, he discovers a brilliantly realized vision of an ideal future, one that seemed unthinkable in his own century. Crime, war, personal animosity, and want are nonexistent. Equality of the sexes is a fact of life. In short, a messianic state of brotherly love is in effect.
Entertaining, stimulating, and thought-provoking, Looking Backward, with its ingenious plot and appealing socialism, is a provocative study of human society as it is and as it might be.