“The Old Folks’ Party,” Edward Bellamy, 1876

“The Old Folks’ Party,” Edward Bellamy, 1876 — “[A] group of young men and women in 1875 decide to assume the roles they think they will be playing fifty years hence…At their next weekly meeting they will become what they call ‘ghosts of the future.’ Their insights into the problems of exchanging identity and traveling through time, even before they do so, are quite penetrating…'” (H. Bruce Franklin) They realize that they will perceive the versions of themselves–old and young–as separate identities.  Their game requires them to invent the “world of 1925” in which their characters will be living.  Franklin notes that they have in a sense become fictionists, and here “is a fiction in which the characters themselves are both creators of a future world and creatures within their own creation.”

Comments: Online text at Project Gutenberg.  See H. Bruce Franklin’s extensive commentary on Bellamy in Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century. He notes that this story contains a variation on Hawthorne’s “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment.”

Author: Wikipedia: “Edward Bellamy (March 26, 1850 – May 22, 1898) was an American author and socialist, most famous for his utopian novel, Looking Backward, a Rip Van Winkle-like tale set in the distant future of the year 2000. Bellamy’s vision of a harmonious future world inspired the formation of over 160 ‘Nationalist Clubs’ dedicated to the propagation of Bellamy’s political ideas and working to make them a practical reality.”


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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1926 and earlier, generational conflict, genrecraft, identity/authenticity, narrative, time/history/causality. Bookmark the permalink.

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