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It wasn't worth it. The author and narrator, Beerbohm, questions his friend Soames upon his return from the future:. Try to remember everything. Eat a little more bread. What did the reading-room look like? I think so. Greyish-yellowish stuff.
DKF 78,—that sort of thing? Soames was only not sure whether the men and women were hairless or shorn. Soames has copied out a passage from a book, which tells us a little more about life in that fictional future spelling reform and socialism :. From p. Nupton, published bi th Stait, Fr. It iz a sumwot labud sattire but not without vallu az showing hou seriusli the yung men ov th aiteen-ninetiz took themselvz. Nou that the littreri profeshn haz bin auganized az a department of publik servis, our riters hav found their levvl an hav lernt ter doo their duti without thort ov th morro.
Thank hevvn we hav no Enoch Soameses amung us to-dai! My question: The world of described here—bald heads, uniforms with numeric badges, and the rest—is obviously meant as parody. Can you identify the specific work s of utopian or visionary literature that most likely inspired it?
I'm not sure if we should be looking at works that were current in when the story was published, or in when it is set. I propose Jerome K. Jerome's "The New Utopia" , which can be read online. In this story, the narrator is a man who falls asleep and misses "the great social revolution of ", remaining asleep and preserved in a glass case at the Museum of Curiosities for one thousand years until he awakes in the 29th century. All the people that we met wore a quiet grave expression, and were so much like each other as to give one the idea that they were all members of the same family.
Everyone was dressed, as was also my guide, in a pair of grey trousers, and a grey tunic, buttoning tight round the neck and fastened round the waist by a belt.
Each man was clean shaven, and each man had black hair. Even men and women look the same, and instead of names, people have only numbers to identify them, which are displayed on a metal plate attached to their clothes:. Some people were called Montmorency, and they looked down on the Smiths; and the Smythes did not like mixing with the Joneses: so, to save further bother, it was decided to abolish names altogether, and to give everybody a number.
But, with the abolition of wealth, numbers lost their value, except for industrial purposes and for double acrostics, and now No. People are washed by the state instead of washing themselves so they would all smell similarly :. He said that they had found they could not maintain their equality when people were allowed to wash themselves.
All the old class prejudices began to be revived. The clean despised the dirty, and the dirty hated the clean. So, to end dissension, the State decided to do the washing itself, and each citizen was now washed twice a day by government-appointed officials; and private washing was prohibited.
The story similarities are clear: physical uniformity, grey clothing, wearing metal numbers whether it be on their sleeves or collars , washing, and hair are mentioned both in the future seen by Enoch Soames and that described in "The New Utopia".
Furthermore, in both cases the character who finds himself in the future goes to a museum, and it is either one hundred or one thousand years ahead.
Your description reminded me somewhat of the much more famous Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, which I knew was influenced by the moderately well-known We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Socialist utopias in fiction have a long history , with some prominent examples being listed here. Several notable such books were written around the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, including Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and H.
Wells's A Modern Utopia But neither of these has anywhere near as many common elements with Beerbohm's vision as those listed above for "The New Utopia". The latter is by far the most convincing match I've been able to find. Also, we know for a fact that Beerbohm was aware of Jerome and his work - indeed, he was known as a critic of Jerome. Wikipedia mentions that Beerbohm called Jerome a "tenth-rate writer", and an Amazon review mentions that "Max Beerbohm has the reputation of being a pacific personality with the exception of the poor Jerome K.
Jerome ". So it's plausible that he would have written "Enoch Soames" with Jerome's utopia specifically in mind. There is a possibility that both Beerbohm and Jerome were basing their "utopias" on some previous work. Jerome's "The New Utopia" was, like ["June " by Julian Hawthorne], a response to Edward Bellamy, but is more farcically parodic, in keeping with his usual manner.
Most of the responses focused on the novel's prospectus for socialist economic reform - far more controversial in rampantly capitalist America than in Europe, where France had a thriving subgenre of anarchist utopian fiction - but Hawthorne focuses on the side-effects of technological advancement. There was indeed a massive response to Bellamy's Looking Backward in other stories, both positive and negative takes on his vision of the future. Bellamy's novel also concerns a man who falls asleep at the end of the nineteenth century and wakes up at the end of the twentieth, and it seems clear enough that Jerome's story is a direct satirical response to Bellamy's.
However, I still contend that the similarities between Beerbohm's future and Jerome's are far greater than with Bellamy's, and that Beerbohm was specifically making use of Jerome's reimagining of Bellamy's socialist utopia, rather than being directly inspired by Bellamy himself. In particular, I quote some passages of Bellamy's story which are startlingly different from Jerome's and Beerbohm's more negative visions of socialism:. It did not appear that any very startling revolution in men's attire had been among the great changes my host had spoken of, for, barring a few details, my new habiliments did not puzzle me at all.
Some like fine horses; others, like myself, prefer pretty clothes; and still others want an elaborate table. The rents which the nation receives for these houses vary, according to size, elegance, and location, so that everybody can find something to suit. The larger houses are usually occupied by large families, in which there are several to contribute to the rent; while small families, like ours, find smaller houses more convenient and economical.
It is a matter of taste and convenience wholly. I have read that in old times people often kept up establishments and did other things which they could not afford for ostentation, to make people think them richer than they were. Was it really so, Mr. In Bellamy's future, people have individual names not numbers and freedom of individual expression in things like clothing and hairstyle.
In Jerome's future, society is much more rigidly restricted. Recall that Jerome's story is believed to have inspired We and indirectly Nineteen Eighty-Four ; it's not implausible that it was being directly referenced closer to its own time too. Indeed, the publication date of "Enoch Soames" is only a few years before We. Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered.
Asked 2 years, 6 months ago. Active 9 months ago. Viewed times. The author and narrator, Beerbohm, questions his friend Soames upon his return from the future: "That's right. Soames has copied out a passage from a book, which tells us a little more about life in that fictional future spelling reform and socialism : From p.
Should this be tagged story-identification? Active Oldest Votes. Story similarities In this story, the narrator is a man who falls asleep and misses "the great social revolution of ", remaining asleep and preserved in a glass case at the Museum of Curiosities for one thousand years until he awakes in the 29th century. Everyone looks very similar, dressed in grey uniform and with short black hair: All the people that we met wore a quiet grave expression, and were so much like each other as to give one the idea that they were all members of the same family.
Historical context Your description reminded me somewhat of the much more famous Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, which I knew was influenced by the moderately well-known We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. And about the other story: "June ", which appeared in the February issue of Cosmopolitan , is part of a flood of utopia speculations that followed the unexpected but enormous success of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, In particular, I quote some passages of Bellamy's story which are startlingly different from Jerome's and Beerbohm's more negative visions of socialism: It did not appear that any very startling revolution in men's attire had been among the great changes my host had spoken of, for, barring a few details, my new habiliments did not puzzle me at all.
With thanks to GarethRees for making me aware of this question via meta. But why did Beerbohm make the future people bald when Jerome's had black hair?
And weren't the s rather the heyday of utopian fiction? And Jerome's story is itself a parodic utopia, isn't it? Shouldn't the target of a parody be a serious work, not another parody? This is a good find, but I think user is right: the similarities between The New Utopia and "Enoch Soames" are due to both works being parodies of the same set of tropes.
We need to look a bit further back to find the source or sources of the tropes being parodied. Cf this question. And I'm ready to stand corrected re utopian fiction of the s, since I know much less than you about the scifi of that period :- Maybe, as Gareth says, there's a common source rather than one directly inspiring the other. I'll dig some more. GarethRees Having now examined Bellamy's Looking Backward as well as Beerbohm's and Jerome's stories, I'm still convinced that, although Jerome's story was clearly a reaction to Bellamy's, Beerbohm was using Jerome's future specifically rather than a parallel, alternative reaction to Bellamy's.
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A Memory of the Nineteen-Nineties
Aubrey Beardsley , H. In the early afternoon of 3rd June , a small crowd of people gathered in the Reading Room of the British Museum. The Reading Room had been due to close for some time, but owing to a series of delays it was still open on this date. According to the American magician Teller, of Penn and Teller, at around 2. Most accounts of that afternoon, however, report no sightings, and when the crowd dispersed, Enoch Soames returned to fiction.
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