Does h.g wells books stand the test of time?

-K2-

mƎ kn0w dUm!
Joined
Jun 19, 2018
Messages
1,156
Location
Nirvāṇa
I have found quite lot of his earlier short stories have racialist references. Passably not out of step with the thinking of the time , but it doesn't look good to the modern eye .
Such as? If you feel uncomfortable or that it is inappropriate to paste a quote in response, please post the title and page number.

Thanks!

K2
 

Dave

Custom title not found
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
18,993
Location
Way on Down South, London Town
We don't want to delve into social politics here because it isn't allowed. I think it would be fair to say the same of many books from that era, so not really a surprise there. There are Enid Blyton children's books that they have stopped publishing any longer. People were educated to think in ways and with ideas that we no longer subscribe to.
 

Finch

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2019
Messages
81
Such as? If you feel uncomfortable or that it is inappropriate to paste a quote in response, please post the title and page number.

Thanks!

K2
I would say ,as historical writing there is not anything dreadful. In A Deal in Ostriches , He describes one character as , The little jew was like most Jews. It would seem to me most of the baddies in his stories are foreigners. In Through the window he describes the baddies in that story as Nigers and later the same characters are Malay. I's not the language used , it would of been acceptable at the time . As was the attitude to foreigners. The question is it acceptable now ?
 
Last edited:

Dave

Custom title not found
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
18,993
Location
Way on Down South, London Town
It isn't acceptable now and highly offensive. While you did cross-post with my post, the conversation needs to move on.

However, when looking at such language from a historical perspective it would be wrong to airbrush it out. It occurred. It is how people were. It doesn't make them bad people, they just did bad things.
 

BigBadBob141

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
682
Pretty much so, "The Time Machine", "The War Of The Worlds" & "The Invisible Man" all stand up fairly well, as do some of his short stories such as "The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid" worthy of Stephen King and the haunting "The Door In The Wall", and "The Country Of The Blind", where being sighted is a disability, all good stuff and well worth a read!!!
 

dannymcg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
3,940
Location
Cumbria UK
Star Wars is just a fantasy in set in space
No No No!
When I can stroll into a book shop and see Timothy Zahn's Thrawn books sandwiched between LOTR and GRR Martin's books then I'll concede this point, but not until!
 

KGeo777

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
231
Location
Canada
I don't know how well his literary style holds up-not a poetic writer from what I remember-I think Frankenstein has more compelling characters and quotations than what I remember from his work, but the plots and imagination are certainly enduring. Various explorations of Darwinian philosophy---the Time Machine, War of the Worlds, Island of Dr Moreau. Pretty impressive variety.
Having the martians destroyed by germs is profoundly clever as it takes the evolution parable from a planetary scale to a microscopic one.
I recall Brian Aldiss getting all excited in an interview about what a brilliant ending it was.
 

Dave

Custom title not found
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 5, 2001
Messages
18,993
Location
Way on Down South, London Town
Having the martians destroyed by germs is profoundly clever as it takes the evolution parable from a planetary scale to a microscopic one. I recall Brian Aldiss getting all excited in an interview about what a brilliant ending it was.
Not to mention the "Red Weed" - a very original Invasive Non-Native Species aspect to the story.
 

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
1,477
No No No!
When I can stroll into a book shop and see Timothy Zahn's Thrawn books sandwiched between LOTR and GRR Martin's books then I'll concede this point, but not until!
When you see that, it'll mean a staff member doesn't understand alphabetical order.

Randy M.
 

hitmouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
1,784
Interesting review of a new book about Wells in this week's Economist.

War of the words H.G. Wells and the underbelly of modernity
He was an unappealing man but a prophetic writer

1573075944484.png


Inventing Tomorrow: H.G. Wells and the Twentieth Century. By Sarah Cole. Columbia University Press; 392 pages; $35 and £27.

IN AN EPISODE of “Downton Abbey”, Maggie Smith’s character, Violet Crawley, expresses horror at the brisk march of innovation. “First electricity,” she complains, “now telephones; sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.” It is an apt line, for Wells (1866-1946) believed that modernity presented a “bristling multitude” of problems—and that fiction was the best medium through which to examine them. Combining a gift for shrewd social commentary with far-reaching prophecy, he foresaw inventions such as television and air-conditioning, as well as coining the terms “war of the worlds”, “atomic bomb” and “time machine”.

Yet despite his blazing intuitions and his sense of the darker repercussions of technological progress, Wells is now an unfashionable figure. Virginia Woolf lumped him together with Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy as drab “materialists”— writers prosaically interested in the fabric of the world, rather than the inner life. That judgment caught on. Today only a few of Wells’s books are much read, and they are studied more often than enjoyed. His style, shaped by a mission to educate, can seem pedantic. Readers balk at his passion for eugenics, attitude to what he called “the inferior races” and tendency to trivialise women. A glut of biographical material has suggested that he was a petulant egomaniac who treated personal relationships like experiments.

In “Inventing Tomorrow”, Sarah Cole of Columbia University sets out to reclaim Wells as a visionary and a radical. Without denying his flaws, she characterises him as a “global thinker”, and her dense, ultimately rewarding book shows the grand sweep of his interests and erudition. Ms Cole does not dwell on the details of his biography—the suburban childhood in a bug-infested house in Kent, or his being judged, at 13, too unrefined to be an apprentice to a draper. Instead she concentrates on his ideas: on the importance of scientific education, the hazards of genetic engineering, the violent wastefulness of Western culture, nuclear proliferation, and the need to eradicate national identity and launch a socialist world-state, in which everyone would speak a single language.

Wells was sure that imaginative literature had a crucial role to play in public conversations about these subjects. Yet for a book that seeks to present him as a writer deserving a mass audience, “Inventing Tomorrow” is sometimes hard going. Ms Cole’s own phrasing can be opaque. She applauds Wells’s novel “Ann Veronica” for the “jouissance it purveys” and “The Island of Doctor Moreau” for the “hybridity it literalises”, and refers to his work being “washed by waves of violence and decimation”.

Still, she succeeds in calling attention to the expansiveness of Wells’s thinking. And she investigates neglected areas of his writing, among them the pacifist pamphlets he produced during the first world war; she is especially enthusiastic about lesser-known novels such as “Mr Britling Sees It Through” (1916), which pictures the impact of conflict on non-combatants, and the heftily philosophical “The World of William Clissold” (1926). Some of Wells’s ideas and personal traits were certainly rebarbative, but he emerges from this wide-ranging account as a passionate and persistent advocate of social change, and of literature’s capacity to shape it—driven as he was by the belief that modern life is a “race between education and catastrophe”.
 
Top