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Editor's Introduction (1996)


Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward was written in 1881, first published in 1887, and became enormously popular, selling over a million copies. This text is drawn primarily from the Vanguard Printings 1917 edition.

Bellamy was born in 1850 in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. As a young man he studied law and entered the bar, but never practiced. This novel, his most popular, may be of use today for its strong efforts to refute that American social relations are either wise or just. By requiring his narrator (and presumably his reader) to consider the possibility that our own social mores are hardly equitable, reasonable or utopic, Bellamy's novel was used to support Progressive reform in the 1890s -- we can only hope it may help to encourage critical reflection about contemporary social relations.

The copyright history of this version of the text is as follows:

  • copyright 1887 by Ticknor and Company
  • copyright 1889 by Edward Bellamy
  • copyright 1898, 1915 and 1917 by Emma S. Bellamy

This original copyright has expired. Because of substantial editorial adaptations, spelling corrections, and minor emendments to the 1917 edition, the editor (Geoffrey Sauer) has copyrighted this edition © 1996. This text may be used freely for noncommercial purposes.

This edition cites the 1917 edition's page numbers (in boldface, located within brackets like this: [16]) from the 1917 Vanguard edition, for scholarly quotation and academic reference.

--Geoff Sauer

This edition copyright © 1996 by Geoffrey Sauer. All rights reserved.

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