The World in 100 Years

Die Welt in hundert Jahren (The world in a hundred years, 1909-10) is a collection of 22 predictions about the future made just over one hundred years ago. The essays, collected by Arthur Brehmer and illustrated by Ernst Lübbert, cover a wide range of topics, including art, literature, theatre, music, sports, medicine, pedagogy, women’s rights, social conventions, and international relations (see the full table of contents below). Some of the predictions seem especially uncanny, especially the predictions of solar energy in “Das tausendjährige Reich der Maschinen” (The 1000 year empire of machines) and wireless technology in “Das drahtlose Jahrhundert” (The wireless century), which will be the subject of my next blog post.

In general, the essays revel in the wondrous aspect of modern technology, the theme of contemporary books like Artur Fürst’s Die Wunder um uns (1911), and like Fürst, the authors reflect on the problematic Enlightenment link between technological progress and social progress. As Kathrin Forster argues, the collection stands right on the cusp of futurology, our current age of scientific forecasting that comes after the ages of oracles, prophecies, and utopias, and it should be read alongside Charles Richet’s “Dans cent ans” (1892) and H.G. Well’s Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought (1901).

After Die Welt in hundert Jahren was reprinted in 2008, it did receive some press, even inspiring an art exhibition at Ars Electronica. Still, surprisingly few academic studies have dealt with it.

The cover of the book shows what appears to be an allegory for the Veil of Isis, holding a globe and an hourglass.
The cover of the book shows what appears to be an allegory for the Veil of Isis, holding a globe and an hourglass.


Inhaltsverzeichnis (Table of Contents):

  1. Arthur Brehmer, “Vorwort” (Foreword)
  2. Hudson Maxim, “Das 1000 jährige Reich der Maschinen” (The 1000-year empire of machines)
  3. Robert Sloss, “Das drahtlose Jahrhundert” (The wireless century)
  4. Cesare Lombroso, “Verbrechen und Wahnsinn im XXI. Jahrhundert” (Crime and madness in the 21st century)
  5. Rudolf Martin, “Der Krieg in 100 Jahren” (War in 100 years)
  6. Bertha von Suttner, “Der Frieden in 100 Jahren” (Peace in 100 years)
  7. Frederik Wolworth Brown, “Die Schlacht von Lowestoft” (The Battle of Lowestoft)
  8. Karl Peters, “Die Kolonien in 100 Jahren” (Colonies in 100 years)
  9. Ellen Key, “Die Frau in 100 Jahren” (Women in 100 years)
  10. Dora Dyx, “Die Frau und die Liebe” (Women and Love)
  11. Baronin von Hutten, “Die Mutter von Einst” (Mothers of Old)
  12. Alexander von Gleichen-Rußwurm, “Gedanken über die Geselligkeit” (Thoughts on being sociable)
  13. Jehan van der Straaten, “Unterricht und Erziehung in 100 Jahren” (Teaching and education in 100 years)
  14. Björne Björnson, “Die Religion in 100 Jahren” (Religion in 100 years)
  15. Eduard Bernstein, “Das sozial Leben in 100 Jahren. Was können wir von der Zukunft des sozialen Lebens wissen?” (Social life in 100 years: What can we know about the future of social life?)
  16. Hermann Bahr, “Die Literatur in 100 Jahren” (Literature in 100 Years)
  17. Wilhelm Kienzl, “Die Musik in 100 Jahren. Ein überflüßige Betrachtung” (Music in 100 years: A superfluous observation)
  18. Everard Hustler, “Das Jahrhundert des Radiums” (The century of radium)
  19. Professor C. Lustig, “Die Medizin in 100 Jahren” (Medicine in 100 years)
  20. Cesare de Lotto, “Die Kunst in 100 Jahren” (Art in 100 years)
  21. Charles Dona Edward, “Der Sport in 100 Jahren” (Sports in 100 years)
  22. Frl. Prof. E. Renaudot, “Die Welt und der Komet” (The world and comets)
  23. Garett Putnam Serviss, “Der Weltuntergang” (The end of the world)