Ignatius DonnellyIgnatius Loyola Donnelly (November 3, 1831 – January 1, 1901), brother to Eleanor C. Donnelly, was a U.S. Congressman, populist writer, and amateur scientist. He is known primarily now for his theories concerning Atlantis, Catastrophism (especially the idea of an ancient impact event affecting ancient civilizations), and Shakespearean authorship, which many modern historians consider to
CAESAR’S COLUMN: A STORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Caesar’s Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century, first published in 1890, is considered to be a key work in the history of dystopian and apocalyptic fiction, a “must read” for fans of this genre. Part political novel, part romance, Caesar’s Column takes place in the year 1988 in New York City, where society has lost itself in social decay. Gabriel Welstein arrives in New York as a visitor from the Swiss colony of Uganda, an agricultural society. Much of Gabriel’s narration happens as letters written to his brother. Gabriel helps save a beggar in the city, a beggar who turns out to be part of “The Brotherhood of Destruction” that is working to overthrow the corrupt ruling class. Ignatius Donnelly was considered an agrarian populist, part of a movement that grew after the Civil War with the rise of the corporate state, when capital – and in particular, farming land – became ever concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Moving from political party to political party, and eventually landing with the Republican Party, Donnelly was elected Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota and then went on to become a U.S. Congressman for three terms. Caesar’s Column draws heavily on Donnelly’s political and societal views. He offers a view of the technological future that proves to be fairly accurate, with talk of airships, city streets, and electrical power for all. Some would say his notion of “televised newspapers” foreshadows the internet, as well. There are examples of anti-Semitism in his work, though not probably as severe as was present at the time. The presence of this anti-Semitism is interpreted by some to be seen as commentary on the social state portrayed in the work. Selling 60,000 copies upon its initial publication, sales eventually topped 250,000 copies. Caesar’s Column went on to become one of many influential books in a wave of utopian and dystopian novels during the later 19th-century and early 20th-century.