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L'an 2440 by Louis-Sébastien Mercier
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L'an 2440 (1771)

by Louis-Sébastien Mercier

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First published in 1771 as L'An 2440, the title of Louis-Sebastien Mercier's utopian fantasy was edited to Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred when William Hooper's English translation was published at Philadelphia in 1795. This change was made simply "for the sake of a round number," according to the "Advertisement" preceding the text, as "there appears no reason for fixing it to any particular year." Extremely popular in its day (it is one of the books profiled by Robert Darnton in his The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France), the book employs many of what we now think of as typical utopian tropes: man wakes up and finds himself hundreds of years in the future, and spends an incredulous day walking around learning how things are done, and wakes up at the end to find it'd all been a dream. But, as Darnton points out, Mercier's work was one of the first to use these techniques, which were entirely fresh and new to his original readers. There's not much plot at all: the narrator is simply guided from place to place, learning how people are clothed, fed, educated, governed, &c. in the very Rousseau-ian society of far-future France. I found it a somewhat intriguing window into the historical moment, but unless you've got a real soft spot for heavy-handed utopian fiction, probably safe to give this one a miss. ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 20, 2016 |
one copy available on amazon for 70.
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
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