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30:4, Reviews This monograph is well planned and organized to make it hold together logically and usefuUy and also to maintain an important place among other works on Wells. In addition to having the general theme of "ReaUty Beyond" as a unifying element, it also develops new ideas about Wells, some laden with almost shocking concepts for future researchers to fathom. And unUke some other recent pubUcations on Wells, this book is substantial enough not be be readüy questioned: I think of the recent biography, H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal, by David C. Smith, which is flawed by an uncritical admiration of its subject and is prolix in style. Wells's works, we can now see clearly, are very much alive, not at all "as dead as mutton." I have only one cavil with this monograph: before I could read and mark it carefully, the spine had broken and released most of the pages. But I overlook this shabby physical workmanship to absorb what was learned and to await eagerly the appearance of Leon Stover's forthcoming book, The Prophetic Soul: A Reading of H. G. Wells's "Things to Come." Bruce Teets, Professor Emeritus Central Washington University WELLS AND THE LATE FICTION WiUiam J. Scheick. "The Splintering Frame: The Late Fiction of H. G. Wells." English Literary Studies, No. 31. University of Victoria, B.C. $6.00 "Who cares?" is quite possibly a to-be-expected reaction to any review and, more disturbingly, a reaction to a consideration of the writings of H. G. Wells—Who Cares! and Why! Wells has long been out of favor; the polls have been taUied, and literary orthodoxy has held that the novel must heed "Jamesian aesthetics" and the modem "preference for characterization over fictional structure." In this monograph, however, Professor Scheick maintains that a good case can be made for the modernity of WeUs's ideas and his artistic practices, "especially late in his career when heightened self-awareness encouraged him to conduct remarkable experiments with the structure of the novel." There are few scholars who are more intelligently knowledgeable about Wells and his work than Scheick. This monograph undertakes a careful and impressive study of the late fiction of H. G. Wells: i.e., the writings that have been most frequently used to dismiss WeUs as a wom-out, out-of-date journalist whose artistic pretensions are embarrassing if not laughable. In response, Scheick takes the position that at least some of Wells's novels in the Thirties represent the crowning achievement of his writing career, a career which earned for Wells Vladimir Nabokov's praise for being one of the outstanding novelists 466 30:4, Reviews of the twentieth century. Obviously, this study does not attempt easy solutions or rely on ready-made answers. For Wells, the fictional conventions of the novels of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods—in particular, the "Art Novel" or Jamesian novel—created a self-contained interior world whose relevance and importance to realities outside the text of the novel were doubtful. He rejected this kind of novel because it depended on an exhausted form. Always the experimenter, WeUs held that the novel is and should be a "self-consuming artifact . . . that should not exist for itself but should serve the utiUtarian purpose of exposing the reader to multiple human possibUities in time." As a further elaboration of this idea he told Henry James on 8 July 1915 that '"Uterature like architecture is a means, it has a use.'" In so arguing, Wells was not denying the importance and significance of Uterature and of the novel in particular; rather he was acting in accordance with his belief that this was the best way to keep the novel alive and vital: it had to reflect the post-war realities of the Twenties and Thirties. In order to achieve this vitality, Wells worked to establish two things: (1) a "fictional surface manifesting a randomness and diffusion" which confronted the "expected patterns of orderly development"; (2) an inner structure that would remain open, unfinished, and expanding without any clear closure of meaning. The novel had to reflect such significant concepts as relativity and indeterminacy , and WeUs...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 466-468
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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