Equality (book)

Equality (book)

Infobox Book |
name = Equality
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Edward Bellamy
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Utopian novel
publisher = D. Appleton & Company
release_date = 1897
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = xii, 412 pp
isbn = NA
preceded_by = Looking Backward
followed_by =

"Equality" is a utopian novel by Edward Bellamy, and the sequel to "Looking Backward: 2000–1887" and was first published in 1897. The book contains a minimal amount of plot; Bellamy primarily used "Equality" to expand on the theories he first explored in "Looking Backward".


The story takes up immediately after the events of "Looking Backward" with the main characters from the first novel, Julian West, Doctor Leete, and his daughter Edith.

West tells his nightmare of return to the 19th century to Edith, who is sympathetic. West's citizenship in the new America is recognized, and he goes to the bank to obtain his own credit card. He learns that Edith and her mother do not normally wear the long skirts he has seen them in (they have been wearing them so his 19th century sensibilities will not be shocked), and when Edith learns that he would not be shocked to see them dressed otherwise, immediately runs into the house and comes out dressed as a modern woman in a pants suit. Clothing varies widely, since it is made of strengthened paper, and is recycled when dirty and replaced at very small expense (shoes and dishes are made of variations on the same substance).

Julian learns that women are free to compete in many of the same trades as men; the manager of the paper factory he goes to view is a woman. Edith herself is in the second year of the three year general labor period required of everyone before choosing a trade, but is on leave from that employment. The two tour a tenement house, in which no one now lives, kept as a reminder of things how used to be and a reminder not to go back to them.

Julian opens his safe (a device unknown in 2000 outside museums). Dr. Leete sees his mortgages and securities not as long-obsolete claims to ownership interest in things, but rather in people and their labor. The papers are worthless except as antiquities, as most of such papers were burned at the conclusion of the economic transition, in a great blaze on the former site of the New York Stock Exchange. The gold coins in the safe are admired for their prettiness, but are also worthless.

Julian learns more about the world of the year 2000. Handwriting has been virtually replaced by phonograph records, and jewelry is no longer used, since jewels are now worthless. Julian is amazed by a television-like device, called the electroscope. World communication is simplified, since everyone now speaks a universal language in addition to his native tongue. Not only are there motor cars, but also private air cars. Everyone is now vegetarian, and the thought of eating meat is looked upon with revulsion.

The book concludes with an almost uninterrupted series of lectures from Dr. Leete and other characters, mostly concerning how the idyllic state West has arrived in was achieved.


As might be expected by the success of "Looking Backward", "Equality" was highly anticipated. A large first edition was ordered by the publishers. In spite of this, the first edition entirely sold out within 36 hours of publication. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9C01E7DC163DE433A25750C0A9619C94669ED7CF New York Times articles from July 3, 1897] ]

Ripley Hitchcock, who was affiliated with Bellamy's publishers, explained the thematic distinction between "Looking Backward" and "Equality" as the latter "explain [s] not only [the institutions of Bellamy's future's] righteousness and reason, but likewise the course of historical evolution by which they were born out of the very different order of things existing to-day". [ [http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9900E1DC1738E433A2575BC2A9639C94699ED7CF New York Times article from May 28, 1898] ]

Reaction to "Equality" was generally not good. Nicholas P. Gilman provides a common criticism for the work in his review for the "Quarterly Journal of Economics." Written in 1897, Gilman explains, "Mr. Bellamy has apparently abandoned fiction, and has at length broken the silence of several years with a volume which is neither novel nor a treatise on socialism in scientific form, but a prolonged reduplication of the monologues of Dr. Leete, the part of "Looking Backward" which has the least interest for most of its readers". [Gilman, Nicholas P. Bellamy's "Equality." The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Oct., 1897), pp. 76. Published by: The MIT Press. ]


External links

* [http://books.google.com/books?id=JpHKmri7ovEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=bellamy+equality&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=1_2 "Equality"] — Google Books edition.
* , available at Wikisource

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