Review from the Overland Monthly, December, 1891:
The farthest leap into the future that has been made Bellamy's "Looking Backward," is the "Crystal Button"* It was written, as the preface shows, by an active business man, suddenly compelled by ill-health to desist from his work, and the method that he took to turn his mind from business, was by dreaming of what the world would be in 4800. Of course, it is a necessity that such a work must be vaguer, and contain more evident fallacies than those which look only a hundred years or so ahead; as for example, when Paul Prognosis talks to-the learned professor, the professor prides himself much on being able to understand what he calls "theold English," and says he is the only man in the City of Tone that can understand it; and yet the necessity of the tale requires that other people all through the narrative shall be able to converse with Mr. Prognosis with equal freedom. The City of Tone, which by the way is Saint Botholph's Town, reduced to a yet simpler form than the Boston of our day, is a remarkable place of twenty-story pyramidal tenement houses, in which whole communities live, of flying machines and wonderful applications of electricity. It is in these mechanical marvels that the author most delights; but the social question receives its due attention, and the solution of the present unhappy state of things is found in the wonderful Order of the Crystal Button, started by an apostle named John Costor. Its single purpose is to promote truthfulness, and the only pledge required of members is this: "I will try from this moment, henceforth, to be true and honest in my every act, word, and thought, and this crystal button I will wear while the spirit of truth abides with me." It must be confessed that this simple pledge, taken unanimously, or nearly so, by the people in the world, and lived up to, would make a revolution in society that would create a state of blessedness equal to the highest flights of imagination; and a civilization built upon it would be far better off, it seems probable, than any social army of industry or other Utopian system that has been devised. It is hardly likely that so many people will read the book as read "Looking Backward," and yet they would find it quite as worthy of being read,—perhaps it might have been so, had it been published first,— as it might have been for it was written first.
* The Crystal Button. By Chauncey Thomas. New York, R. F. Fenno & Company.: 1891.
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