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30:4, Reviews Wells (the short stories), and Ordinary-Sage Wells (the comic novels of Kipps, Mr. PoUy, and Ponderevo). Above all, Wells's greatest gift to his readers is summed up in a single word: exhilaration. J. Randolph Cox St. Olaf College A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS Michael MuIUn, ed. H. G. Wells: Reality and Beyond: A Collection of Essays Prepared in Conjunction with the Exhibition and Symposium on H. G. Wells. Champaign, IL: Champaign Public Library and Information Center, 1986. Paper $5.00 Nobody, certainly, could have been more surprised at the current revival of interest in H. G. Wells than Wells himself. "They're as dead as mutton, you know," he smilingly told Somerset Maugham one day as he stroked a volume of the Atlantic Edition of his complete works. "They all dealt with matters of topical interest and now that the matters aren't topical any more they're unreadable ." To this offhand remark World War II gave added force, and the inevitable eclipse followed soon after Wells's death in 1946. His serious novels were allowed to go out of print whUe his papers ended up at the University of Illinois. Now the appearance of this paper-bound volume on Wells helps demonstrate that his works are not at all "as dead as mutton." The general theme of these essays, "Reality and Beyond," unifies the book and leads the reader into concepts that open entirely new prospects upon Wells's Ufe and works. In foUowing the tradition of the literary historian, Patrick Parrinder, in "Experiments in Prophecy," sees in the two sides of Wells's "prophecy": the Hebrew notion of the preacher and the sage whose prime function is one of moral exhortation and the ancient Greek and Roman notion of the prophet as a foreteller and soothsayer who are not moral teacher but "purveyors of warnings and tidings of doom." Wells's relationship to prophecy is more complex, however, than these: as both a forecaster and a teacher he is seen as the historian of the world as weU as the possessor of the "age of the tank, the air force, and the atomic bomb." In his Ufe's work Wells is capable of "switching between the roles of Moses and Cassandra." For some readers, though, his best writing appears in those "irreverent" books, Love and Mr. Lewisham, Kipps, and The History of Mr. Polly, in which their author had a profound understanding of human contentment as well as the joys of prophecy. In Frank McConnell's record of a "Realist of the Fantastic: H. G. Wells about/ in/on the Movies," the fantastic becomes another means of making one's way through "reaUty and beyond." Here the researcher reads history backwards, as it were, as he maintains that Wells's fiction anticipated visual and temporal effects that only later would be realized through motion pictures. In 1895, with the publication of The Time Machine, WeUs attempted to create novels that 463 30:4, Reviews would have the same effect as those which fed his imagination as he grew up—and the same effect as the evolving art that paralleled his own growth as a writer. Virtually the last writer in EngUsh to trust in the Victorian marriage of artist and audience, he believed fundamentally in the movies and set a model for the filmmaker who, in the first three decades of this century, would create a new art. In "The Construction of the Future: H. G. Wells and the Utopian Fantasy," Mark Hillegas explains how Wells fits into a literary tradition that uses Utopia to criticize the world as it is and arrives at the interesting conclusion that Wells fused it with science fiction to form visions of a happy future. Hillegas argues that Wells's innovation entered the Utopian tradition deeply during mid-century and then faded with our society's loss of faith in the all-healing powers of science. By making major contributions to the Utopian tradition, WeUs was truly the leading Utopian of the century, the most important of his contributions being his ideal of a great Utopian World State. Leon Stover, in "H. G. Wells: T. H. Huxley and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 463-466
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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