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In Looking Backward Julian West, a member of Boston’s upper class in the late 1880s, falls into a deep, undisturbed sleep and wakes up in the year 2000. After his initial shock and denial at his situation, in this new Boston of more than 100 years into the future, he discovers that the class conflicts and social disparity that plagued the country in his day are completely eradicated. All citizens live in harmony, and each has what he needs to be content, with little need for excess.
The premise of a book of this nature -- imagining what society might be like 100 years from now -- had me eager to pick it up, but a couple of things were lacking for this reader, one of which is perhaps unfair. First, several chapters in which West and his host family discuss the nature of the current social system are dry as a bone. While I was interested in the workings of the new society, the way it was presented was really a snooze-fest. Second, and this may not be entirely fair of me given the book was originally published in 1888, I was hoping for the author to think of some really crazy changes to life in the year 2000. I realize that one can use only what is currently on the cutting edge in one’s own time to project what the future may hold, but some part of me was still disappointed that the only music around in 2000 is classical, and the language spoken, especially among young people, is exceedingly stiff and formal. The author got points for revealing that women are also members of the workforce, but lost a few while noting that women don’t do the same jobs as men. Worth a read, but I’m not sure it’s going to continue aging well.
posted Aug 18, 2009 at 9:03PM
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