'A Leap of Faith': Abbott, Bellamy, Morris, Wells and the Fin-de-Siècle Route to Utopia

Helen Kingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the great surge of utopian writing that was produced during the fin de siècle, Edward Bellamy, William Morris and H. G. Wells among others imagined utopias that were global in scale and located in the future. They made a radical shift in utopian thinking by drawing a historical trajectory between their own time and that of utopia. A contemporaneous text that might seem to have little in common with these “historical utopias” is E. A. Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). This article shows how closely its ideas can bring into focus those of the specifically utopian texts being written alongside it. Flatland breaks the conventions of utopian narrative by removing the reader from the narrative plane and situating us instead in the “impossible” third dimension. The “leap of faith” necessary for scientific or religious revelation is simultaneously invoked as the route to utopia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-77
JournalEnglish Literature in Transition, 1880-1920
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2016


  • William Morris
  • H. G. Wells
  • Edward Bellamy
  • Einstein
  • Darko Suvin
  • T. H. Huxley
  • Herbert Spencer
  • Charles Booth
  • Robert Owen
  • George Eliot
  • Arnold Toynbee
  • The fin de siècle
  • Theory of General Relativity
  • Theory of the Paradigm Shift
  • The Socialist League
  • A Modern Utopia, Looking Backward, 2000–1887
  • News from Nowhere
  • Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
  • Life and Labour of the People in London
  • Middlemarch
  • “The First Essay on the Principle of the Formation of Character”


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