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244 abiding merit of IMPERIAL PALACE is that it throws off the true, fine, romantic savor of life. It is a comic novel." This may be, but I find myself still having nagging doubts about assigning a high rank to this novel among Bennett's best works. I am more persuaded, perhaps, by Professor Hepburn's always lively, vigorous argument than I am by the novel itself. But, then, one of the excellencies of Hepburn's book, as it should be of all good criticism, is that it urges one to read and consider the novels again. One can only hope that some reader of Hepburn's book will be encouraged to do as well by such writers as Gissing, Moore, Wells, and other writers who have not had the kind of detailed analysis, the genuine, serious reconsideration that Professor Hepburn has so well, and at times brilliantly, given to Bennett.* Purdue University H. E. Gerber 2. H. G. Wells: Disillusioned Critics and Undeveloped Artist Ingvald Raknem. H. G. WELLS AND HIS CRITICS. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. About 40 kroner; NY: Humanities Press, 1962. $8.00. The purpose of H. G. WELLS AND HIS CRITICS is to survey the criticism of Wells's writing, chiefly his fiction published up to about 1920, to trace Wells's fluctuating reputation as a novelist, and to evaluate both Wells's work and the opinions of critics from the perspective of the 1960's. Raknem follows a set pattern in organizing most of his book. First he quotes excerpts from various reviews concerning each important WeMs title, usually taking them in chronological order; then he comments on and criticizes the book reviewers and critics, showing where they were right or wrong; and finally he uses these reviews and critiques as a springboard for his own summary or analysis of individual WeMs novels and stories and of problems concerning Wells as a writer. Besides citing reviewers and critics, Raknem compares and contrasts the opinions of Wells held by contemporary novelists such as James, Conrad, and Bennett. Raknem insists that only three novels can be called "autobiographical," TONOBUNGAY , THE NEW MACHIAVELLI, and MR. 8RITLING SEES IT THROUGH. The other novels, of course, contain many autobiographical details, but are not true or even fictionalized biography. TONO-BUNGAY, says Raknem, is a summing up or distillation of all Wells's previous thought and work, and this is why it is such a substantial novel. He also shows how, as Wells's own financial and social *With no desire to end this review on a note of faint praise by trailing off into the usual remarks about appendixes and indexes, I relegate such observations to a footnote. At the conclusion of his book, Hepburn gives several revealing appendixes: a discussion of "The Supposed Unevenness of Bennett's Work" and a discussion of "Gestation and Composition" with a "Chronology of Composition." The bibliography of Bennett's works is very thorough; the secondary bibliography gives an ample selection of writings about Bennett; and the index has been carefully done. 245 positions improved, the social and financial positions of his leading male characters improved: Wells replaced the little man of the early comedies with idealistic world reconstructors. Another point made is that Wells repeated the same type of characters over and over in his novels as he repeated his basic ideas. This, argues Raknem, is why the critics became disillusioned with Wells after 1920, so that subsequent criticism "threw no fresh light on him as a novelist, and did not to any extent alter the general critical estimation of him arrived at by 1920." Raknem also examines Wells's ability to create characters and his use of certain types of character such as parents and teachers to embody certain Ideas. Only the characters who stand for things Wells hated are portrayed as comic or foolish. Says Raknem, Wells's "preoccupation with his own opinions and his anxiety to advance them prevented him from creating real characters as well as from writing really great novels." Furthermore Raknem feels, "One reason why he did not develop was that, at an early age, he contracted a hatred of all forms of art, so that the novelist in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 244-246
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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