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30:4, Reviews ling, and Harmsworth (among others) pontificated proved increasingly shaky in the second and third decades of this century, and more, because the general public admired Wells as a vigorous fighter for decent causes rather than as a writer of entertaining fiction, a skilled pamphleteer, or an organizer of societies. To some extent he was a media creation as well as a shaper of new forms of communication with masses of eager readers and listeners. But to say his kind will not come again invites very serious thought about the reasons why he was so popular and (at the same time) so ineffectual in getting others to implement the reforms he championed. Professor Smith's summary of the reasons why he beüeves Wells to have been an important figure turns up early, in the Introduction. Wells made six major contributions: he popularized Huxley's version of evolution, he wrote a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of some importance to the early concept of the United Nations Organization), he relentlessly campaigned for world education, he optimistically portrayed middle- and lower-classes hopes, he conducted experiments in the didactic novel, and he helped to establish the modem feminist movement. None of Wells's campaigns should be minimized; yet one wishes that this meticulously-researched, ably-organized life of Wells had done less with appointment schedules, the invitations and the honors, and the wearying sense of constant busy-ness, and more with the cultural context. Even so, it will prove useful in estabUshing a base for further considerations. Harold Orel University of Kansas REVISED TWAYNE EDITION Richard Hauer Costa. H. G. Wells. Revised Edition. Boston: Twayne, 1985. $13.95 It is not given to every critic to be able to revise a work published twenty years ago and improve the product substantially. It is also not given to every critic to write within the limitations of size and format imposed by the Twayne Authors Series and produce a readable text. Professor Costa has managed to accomplish both feats and published not merely a brief overview of the Wellsian universe, but made a worthwhile contribution to the literature. Reviews of the original edition (1967) can only be classed as "mixed." While acknowledging the author's ability at incisively summarizing Wells's works, he was criticized for repetitions, bald conclusions, and over-crowded sentences. In the twenty years that separate the two editions, Costa appears to have benefitted from his criticism, re-read Wells, re-written where necessary, but left untouched that which he felt could stand up to scrutiny. On first glance, the book is organized along conventional lines: a brief biographical sketch, followed by a chronological discussion of the major works, 460 30:4, Reviews with commentaries on the significance each had at the time, and whether that still holds true. But on a close examination, we are left with the impression of viewing Wells, janus-faced, looking back at his past achievements at the same time that we look to the future to try to determine just how far ahead he could see. This is accomplished in part by the thematic, not just chronological , approach to his work. This is a literary analysis, so there is little attention paid to the nonfiction works, with the exception of his essays into popular education. Though little read today, The Outline of History is a book that is difficult to ignore. Its popularity and influence in its own day is well worth an essay by itself. Two other exceptions are First and Last Things and Mind at the End of Its Tether, but by and large Costa deals with Wells as writer of fiction. Even in a thematic study, one must begin where Wells began, with the scientific romances. In this chapter, Costa rightly considers the significant influence of Thomas H. Huxley, both as a self-image and cerebrally. He was "the prototype for the first of Wells's fictional heroes, the scientist who would do battle with Jekyll-Hyde and Dr. Frankenstein." Costa finds Wells's "authentic mood" in his "translating of the treacheries of evolution into scientific romance." There is little doubt that the scientific romances will prove to be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 460-463
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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