- H. G. Wells edited by Brian Murray, and: H. G. Wells Under Revision: Proceedings of the International H. G. Wells Symposium, London, July 1986 edited by Patrick Parrinder (review)
- Victorian Review
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 17, Number 2, Winter 1991
- pp. 92-96
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- Additional Information
92Victorian Review mechanics. While individual vignettes abound, the author is content to use such potential as a vehicle for a straightforward discussion oflife in Leeds. There is no real attempt to use the sources to analyze the relationship either between the cemetery and the community, or the Uving and the dead. Furthermore, given the Beckett Street Cemetery's importance as the first municipal cemetery in the kingdom, it is disappointing to discover so little about the complex world of municipal politics. Indeed, an examination of this subject might have prompted the author to assess the decline of the cemetery, and its implications for furthering our understanding of early twentieth-century Britain, in more detail. Finally, as Roy Porter proposes in his admirable, ifshort, introduction to the book: "our forebears celebrated death as the great climax of the mortal life-span of each Christian soul" (ix). Ultimately, this study is concerned less with the implications of this important line of enquiry, than with presenting a pastiche of Ufe, albeit both colorful and pathetic, in Victorian Leeds. Chris Hosgood University ofLethbridge Brian Murray. H. G. WeUs. New York: Continuum, 1990. 190. $18.95 US (cloth). Patrick Parrinder and Christopher Rolfe, eds. H. G. WeUs Under Revision: Proceedings ofthe International H. G. Wells Symposium, London, July 1986. London and Toronto: Associated UP, 1990. 263. $35.00 US (cloth). When R G. Wells died in 1946, his obituaries paid tribute to him as the educator of the age. The Times Literary Supplement (17 August 1946) wrote that "there was a time when Wells spoke more clearly than any other man to the youth ofthe world." However, he had been without much of an audience for some years before his death, and after it his reputation virtually disappeared. A few ofwhat he called his scientific romances kept his name alive as did one or two of his social novels, but the rest of his vast output was quickly forgotten. This state of affairs has begun to change in recent years, which have seen an increasing interest in both his work and his Ufe. The two books under review are both evidence of Wells's reviving reputation. Reviews93 Brian Murray's study of Wells is part of a series entitled Literature and Life: British Writers, though it deals primarily with Wells as a novelist rather than as a writer whose work took many other forms. The most successful part of the book is its first chapter, which describes Wells's Ufe and incorporates many references to his work, not only to his novels, but to his essays, his poUtical and educational commentaries, his histories and, of course, his autobiography. For anyone looking for a brief but comprehensive biographical account of Wells, this chapter will be invaluable. It reUes heavily on Wells's own words and is none the worse for that It describes the astonishing range of Wells's work. It contains enough critical observations to keep the reader provoked. Not the least of its strengths is its reference to many of Wells's lesser known works, among them his early stories, his essays, some of his educational commentaries, such as his now largely forgotten Story ofa Great Schoolmaster, and many of his equally forgotten novels, such as The Bulpington ofBlup, God the Invisible King, and The Wonderful Visit. The rest of the book deals only with Wells's novels, with separate chapters on the scientific romances, the Edwardian social novels, the later novels, and his portrayal of, and attitudes to, women. These chapters are largely descriptive, with relatively little criticism or analysis, but they do serve the useful purpose of introducing their readers to much of Wells's work that has been unjustly forgotten. Who nowadays reads The World of William Clissold, The Croquet Player, You Can't be Too Careful? Despite their neglect, Murray makes a persuasive case that they and other of Wells's books remain worth reading. He could, in fact, have included others, such as The Camford Visitation, Babes in a Darkling Wood, and Bealby. However, although Murray successfully introduces us to much of Wells's forgotten fiction, his concentration on the novels means that he has too Uttle to say...