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Literature Study GuidesLooking Backward

Looking Backward | Study Guide

Edward Bellamy

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Course Hero. "Looking Backward Study Guide." Course Hero. 25 Oct. 2017. Web. 5 June 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. (2017, October 25). Looking Backward Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Looking Backward Study Guide." October 25, 2017. Accessed June 5, 2023.


Course Hero, "Looking Backward Study Guide," October 25, 2017, accessed June 5, 2023,


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Edward Bellamy

Year Published





Science Fiction

Perspective and Narrator

The author's preface is written from the perspective of an unnamed fictional person in the "Historical Section of Shawmut College in Boston" in the projected year 2000. The narrator of the novel that follows, starting in 1887 and leaping ahead over a century, is the character Julian West. The postscript is written from the perspective of the book's author, Edward Bellamy, living in the later years of the 19th century.


The preface is written in the projected present tense of the year 2000. The novel is written in the past tense, covering the time period from 1887 to 2000. The postscript returns to the present tense of 1888.

About the Title

The full title, Looking Backward: 20001887, reflects the intent of the narrator to explain his past life in capitalist 19th-century America to his imagined 20th-century readers. He also explains the extraordinary circumstances that led him to go to sleep in 1887 and awaken over 100 years later into a world transformed into a socialist utopia.


This study guide and infographic for Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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