Thursday, July 21, 2011

#293. Reading List: Looking Backward


Next up on my Reading List:

Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, an overlooked 19th century gem that covers, as the rest of the title suggests, from 2000 to 1887. Bellamy was a social activist whose particular utopia was nationalist/socialist, who otherwise believed the Gilded Age was a far cry from perfection, and so he went about imagining what a better future would look like. The central figure out the book pulls a Futurama and winds up in Boston of the year 2000. Bellamy's ideals ensue.

The link and cover shot for this book come from Amazon for the first time in a while, since as you might have heard, Borders is going out of business, and so there's very point in attempting any further links to its website, since god knows how much longer it'll be running. As a current employee in one of its Colorado Springs locations, I'm pretty sad to see the company go, but all things must end, good or bad.

I would like to add a few more words about Crime and Punishment, which I might actually think really is better than Brothers Karamazov, which after all became one of my favorite books when I read it five years ago. Raskolnikov offers a distinctly modern perspective in 19th century Russia about the human condition, the concerns and possibilities that trouble and enoble life. He may consider himself a Napoleon, but we would all be better off if we held such lofty ideals, if we all strove to be our most perfect selves. Raskolnikov's biggest flaw is his inability to believe in himself, which is reflected in Dostoyevki's deliberate method of withholding his main character's motives until deep into the novel. What is the reader to think of the character that the character himself doesn't? We learn about him by accident, just as his experiences throughout the story are a series of accidents. There's a lot of Lost in this book. No wonder Ben liked this author so much.

Anyway, I'm not a student, either, so I don't need to write too much analysis, whether arbitrary, cursory, or pointed.

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