29 January 2014

Review: The New Machiavelli by H. G. Wells

Trade paperback, 470 pages
Published 2005 (originally 1911)

Acquired October 2013
Read January 2014
The New Machiavelli
by H. G. Wells

The first section of this book is great. Dick Remington's anecdotes of his childhood veer between humorous and insightful; I loved hearing both about his father's excesses and the first time he realized selfishness existed in the world. Also the tales of him building cities on the floor of his home were fantastic. One suspects that H. G. Wells would have loved Lego.

The book is never quite that interesting again, but it's never bad, either. Dick's political career is all right, and the depiction of him getting married and falling in love (in that order) are pretty insightful depictions of human psychology; you can see why some people thought that Wells was the next Thomas Hardy. Unfortunately, one gets the feeling that Wells was also obsessed with being right, and this book was basically one long "proof" of why he was right and everyone should have listened to him. Still, interesting enough.

(I was very disappointed in John S. Partington's endnotes in my Penguin Classic edition. Partington is long on facts and short on meaning; he'll give you the date of publication of any book mentioned in the text, and the lifespan of its author, but he never gives you any information that would help your understanding of the novel. Who cares when George Henry Lewes was born and died-- tell me why Wells might want to quote The Biographical History of Philsophy as his epigraph!)

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