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Power, Prose, and PurseLaw, Literature, and Economic Transformations$
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Alison LaCroix, Saul Levmore, and Martha C. Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190873455

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190873455.001.0001

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Money and Art in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward

Money and Art in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward

Chapter:
(p.249) 10 Money and Art in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward
Source:
Power, Prose, and Purse
Author(s):

Douglas G. Baird

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190873455.003.0011

Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel, Looking Backward, was the second most popular American novel of the nineteenth century after Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Bellamy imagines Boston in the year 2000. Equality prevails, while money and law have disappeared. This essay focuses on Bellamy’s account of how literature thrives in this society and shows that it is fundamentally flawed. First, to explain how literature is produced, Bellamy is forced to introduce a form of money into his society after all. Moreover, he has no way to explain why the logic that leads to the introduction of money in order to make literature possible does not apply to producing everything else a well-lived life requires. Second, the literature that Bellamy envisions suggests that his world is no utopia at all. It is instead a dull dystopian place in which neither literature nor art is likely to flourish.

Keywords:   Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, Ronald Coase and the Nature of the Firm, money, law, and literature, utopia and dystopia

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