Nicholas Ruddick, Editor
Caesar’s Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century. By Ignatius Donnelly. 1890. [Early Classics of Science Fiction.] Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003. lvii + 278 pp. Paperback: ISBN 0-8195-6666-7. Hardcover: ISBN 0-8195-6665-9.
A sensational best-seller envisions the destruction of New York City.
Published in 1890, Caesar’s Column is an account of a trip to New York City in 1988 by a visitor from the Swiss colony of Uganda. The great metropolis dazzles with its futuristic technology, but its ostentatious wealth and luxury mask the brutal repression of the laboring classes by their rich bosses. The workers, aided by international terrorists, stage a violent revolt and the narrator flees the devastated city by airship to found an agrarian utopia in Africa.
Fueled by outrage at social conditions, Caesar’s Column was the first major dystopian novel in the English language. Its author, Ignatius Donnelly, was the most famous – and controversial – American populist politician of the day, and his book became a huge bestseller and was often compared to such utopian works as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888) and William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890). This Wesleyan edition includes an insightful introduction and notes by Nicholas Ruddick.
A Note on References
Ignatius Donnelly: A Chronology
Caesar’s Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century
About the Author and the Editor
“This new edition moves this novel from the periphery towards the center of the discourse concerning the evolution of science fiction literature in the 19th century. Professor Ruddick’s scholarly apparatus is thorough, admirable, and revelatory.” – David Hartwell, Senior Editor, Tor Books
“Caesar’s Column has a compelling, horrifying fascination, and this new edition will be widely welcomed by utopian and science-fiction scholars. The novel’s apocalyptic climax has a disturbing contemporary resonance.” – Patrick Parrinder, Professor of English, University of Reading
“Caesar’s Column is one of the most important utopias of the late 19th century. This new edition brings it back into print and provides both valuable annotations of the text and a useful introduction to Donnelly.” – Lyman Tower Sargent, Editor of Utopian Studies