It is the year 2000-and full employment, material abundance and social harmony can be found everywhere. This is the America to which Julian West, a young Bostonian, awakens after more than a century of sleep. West’s initial sense of wonder, his gradual acceptance of the new order and a new love, and Bellamy’s wonderful prophetic inventions – electric lighting, shopping malls, credit cards, electronic broadcasting – ensured the mass popularity of this 1888 novel. But however rich in fantasy and romance, Looking Backward is a passionate attack on the social ills of nineteenth-century industrialism and a plea for social reform and moral renewal.
I may have read this book in college, when it was still the 1990s, but the year 2000 was coming up fast. I took a class on Utopian Literature, and I’m pretty sure this was on the syllabus. We read some interesting work for that class, and I wish I still had the reading list, but since there’ve been 25 years and a 2,000-mile move between then and now, it’s not surprising that I don’t have it anymore.
If we did read it, I don’t think I remember anything about it. It’s always possible, though, that one of the “I know I read that somewhere” fragments in my brain will be found inside.
The Classics Club have issued their latest challenge for another Classics Club Spin! Did I complete my challenge for the last spin? No, I did not. Am I going to try again? Yes, I am. Am I using the same list as last time except for the book that I was supposed to read for June? Again, yes, I am.
The idea is for members to select 20 books from their list of 50 classics which they have challenged themselves to read within five years, then read the selected book before 30 September 2020.
My Spin list:
Iliad by Homer, translated by Caroline Alexander
Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
Aenid by Virgil, translated by Sarah Ruden
Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy Sayers
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johnn D. Wyss
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Devil’s Pool by George Sand
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Villette by Charlotte Brontë
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard