American utopian fiction , 1885-1910 : the influence of science and technology



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Four major Utopian/dystopian novels of the latter part of the nineteenth century were Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and Equality, Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Ignatius Donnelly's Caesar's Column. With the exception of Equality (a sequel and elaboration of Looking Backward), these novels were published within two years of each other (1888-1889), and all indicate a concern amounting almost to an obsession on the part of their authors with science and technology. While the attitudes of the authors toward this subject vary from the optimism of Bellamy, through the irresolution of Donnelly, to the pessimism of Twain, it is likely that all three Utopian writers were responding to the same stimulus: the sudden and rapid development of electrically-based technology in the 1880's. This conclusion is supported by The Education of Henry Adams (1931).