Future – a Recent History (continued…)

Having started out exploring recent futures here publicly, as it were, a tad embarrassing to discover that I missed a book published in the middle of last year – Future, A Recent History, by Laurence Samuel (University of Texas Press) –  especially as Adam Gordon reviewed it thoughtfully on his blog when it came out.

If I’d known, I’d have got someone to ask me to review it as well, but too late now. It looks pretty good, being an examination of changing notions of the future in the USA in the 20th century, and what the changes mean/helped bring about.

So, job done? Not sure yet. Will have to read properly and consider. But first must finish David Gelernter’s 1939 – The Lost World of the Fair – a rather brilliant reconstruction-cum-cultural history of the New York fair of that year and the cultural milieu in which it sat. He and Samuel – who has also written at book length about a later World’s Fair – confirm the impression that they are crucial sites for investigating all this. There’s also quite a literature on them, though I doubt if much of it is as readable as our astonishing computer science guru-cum-cultural critic Gelernter. His book has what I realise is a characteristically idiosyncratic (and not, I think, ultimately persuasive) interpretation of the significance of his Fair, its era, and the impossibility of recapturing the spirit in which it was viewed at the time. I need to say more about that, too, but must find time to finish the book before commenting further – a recommended procedure for critics, I gather.

Explore posts in the same categories: futures past, optimism

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2 Comments on “Future – a Recent History (continued…)”

  1. Enrico Poli Says:

    This may be a strange and useless comment, but take a look – if you feel like – at how the Chicago World’s Fair (1893) is represented and narrated in Chris Ware’s masterful graphic novel “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth” (http://bit.ly/E1jWQ).

    It stuck on me.

  2. jonturney Says:

    Didn’t know about this – looks fascinating. I have some stuff about Chicago fair in my book. Have ordered pb from Amazon UK. Thanks!

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