Looking Backward, written by Edward Bellamy and published by Ticknor & Co., is one of the most nonsensical books I have ever read. It is simply unbelievable. If you’ve read Alice in Wonderland, you know of a book that makes no sense at all. Surprisingly, there is an even stranger book: Looking Backward. This novel follows Mr. West, a man from 1887 who somehow sleeps for 113 years, waking up in the year 2000.
21st Century Boston is very different from how Mr. West had left it. It is a grand and wealthy city, and West barely recognizes his home. The United States is a socialist country, and in the entire world, there is no war. The government’s job is to prevent poverty. Everyone works from age 21 until they’re 45, and most people die between 80 and 85. Although human nature has not changed, everyone does what’s right, and everyone does their best, because it’s apparently the logical thing to do. If human nature hasn’t changed, how do people always do their best at everything, and no one ever fights? As absurd at that may sound, something else is even more confusing.
There is no such thing as money. How can there be no money, when there are shops, wages, and credit cards? People are all paid for their labor, and they can do what they wish with their wages. A fee is charged for music, and people can go shopping, but there is no money. There are no bankers, and yet the government functions as one gigantic bank. This world is purely fictional in every way. It is fantasy at its extreme.
Everyone is paid the same amount for their labor, but they are not paid per hour, in which case people do not get paid equally. How does this work? Bellamy never explains. In actuality, he never really explains anything: how the world got to be this way, how human nature has not changed, and how there is no such thing as money. Such a society isn’t possible. The entire 200+ page novel is a series of conversations, without a real plot. Throughout the whole book, nothing happens. Looking Backward is something used to expand the brain, even though half the time it seems as if Bellamy’s goal was to cause insanity in every reader.
The author himself did not seem to know how his own world worked. Bellamy even describes finances as “magic”. How Boston in the year 2000 functioned is, as stated previously, never explained. Personally, Looking Backward, in its entirety, is the most confusing, nonsensical novel ever to have been published. If you ever feel like your brain is failing, or if you just want to be confused for a bit, Bellamy’s book is perfect for you. However, if you prefer your novels to make sense, stay clear of this story. Originally published by Ticknor & Co., Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy, is a work of fiction that makes absolutely no sense.