H. G. Wells eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 52 pages of information about H. G. Wells.
danger of concluding that in that book he will find at last the ultimate expression of character and belief, set out in the form of a categorical creed.  Again I find a spirit and overlook the letter.  I choose to take as representative such a passage as the following, with all its splendid vagueness and lack of dogma, rather than a definite expression of belief that Mr Wells does not believe in a personal immortality.  This passage runs:  “It seems to me that the whole living creation may be regarded as walking in its sleep, as walking in the sleep of individualised illusion, and that now out of it all rises man, beginning to perceive his larger self, his universal brotherhood, and a collective synthetic purpose to increase Power and realise Beauty....”

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And now that I have attempted my interpretation, I look back and confess that it is a very personal reading of my subject.  I may have sought too eagerly for all those passages in which I found a note that roused in me the most thrilling response.  I may have omitted to display vital issues that more truly characterise H.G.  Wells than the appealing urgencies, idealisms, and fluencies that I have found most sympathetic and most admirable.  But if I appear to have done him an injustice in some particulars, it is rather because I have been absorbed by the issue I sought to reveal, than because I deliberately weighed and rejected others.  This short essay can be no more than an introduction to the works it describes.  It was never intended to be critical.  I have had no intention of discussing technique, nor of weighing Mr Wells against his contemporaries in any literary scale.  But I have attempted to interpret the spirit and the message that I have found in his books; and I have made the essay in the hope that any reader who may consequently be stirred to read or to re-read Wells will do so with a mind prepared to look below the surface expression.

I feel no shade of hesitation when I say that H.G.  Wells is a great writer.  His fecundity, his mastery of language, his comprehension of character are gifts and abilities that certain of his contemporaries have in equal, or in some particulars in larger measure.  But he alone has used his perfected art for a definite end.  He has not been content to record his observations of the world as he has seen it, to elaborate this or that analysis of human motive, or to relate the history of a few selected lives.  He has done all this, but he has done infinitely more by pointing the possible road of our endeavour.  Through all his work moves the urgency of one who would create something more than a mere work of art to amuse the multitude or afford satisfaction to the critic.  His chief achievement is that he has set up the ideal of a finer civilisation, of a more generous life than that in which we live; an ideal that, if it is still too high for us of this generation, will be appreciated and followed by the people of the future.

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H. G. Wells from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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