tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > New Machiavelli

New Machiavelli by H.G. Wells
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I have an ongoing, but ultimately minor, interest in Wells. Being an SF enthusiast he is, of course, important to me as the author of many early SF works. The creation of the Eloi & Morlock characters in "The Time Machine" has provided me w/ archetypes to refer to from time to time. Since he's mainly famous for writing SF, I became reinterested in him when I discovered that he'd written non-SF novels too. I found one called "Mr. Britling Sees It Through" long ago & read that & enjoyed it enuf to keep me still slightly caring. Probably decades later, I found & read "The Research Magnificent" wch did the least for me of all of them but it was still ok. Even though I probably read it w/in the last few yrs I don't really remember it at all - except that it was probably similar to "The New Machiavelli" in some ways.

A slightly odd sidenote here is that when I was young, probably an adolescent, I had a picture of Wells + whoever he was married to at the time? sitting naked on lounge chairs at a nudist camp - wearing only sandals & perhaps reading the newspaper. Where on earth did I get such a thing? Given that I'm a nudist myself, I still find that very endearing.

Additionally, somewhere along the line, I learned that Wells had had socialist utopian inclinations. It all adds up to making a seemingly interesting fellow. This edition of "The New Machiavelli" has some scholarly framing - wch I always enjoy. The introduction by the editor, Norman MacKenzie, was of substantial interest to me. It also created a somewhat strange notion of the bk for me in advance. MacKenzie starts off w/ saying that:

"The New Machiavelli caused H. G. Wells more trouble than any other book he wrote. He was already in difficulties with his publisher, Sir Frederick Macmillan, who had found the recent and similar novel Ann Veronica so 'distasteful' that he had refused to put it in his list, and now rejected the new work on the grounds that it was scandalous and potentially libelous."

Anyway, the bk's presented as being "thinly disguised autobiography" & its main theme was supposedly rejected by Macmillan for being too much about sex instead of about the politics that Wells supposedly claimed it to be about. Wells is presented as a pioneer of using such autobiography "as a vehicle for his social and political ideas". That, too, interests me - since much of my writing is autobiography intended the same way - but w/o the novelistic framing.

So I read it expecting at least a little torrid sex & found it to be.. mostly about politics - or at least about the main character's journey from quasi-socialist liberal to conservative to someone who'd rather leave it all & have a kid w/ the lover that replaces the wife. The "scandalous"ness of it is definitely of a century ago. Still, in a sense, the protaganist comes across as an energetic & driven character who's a maestro at justifying what ultimately amounts to some pretty selfish behavior.

All in all, the politics of it aren't ultimately that interesting to me & I don't really recommend the bk to anyone. I wrote a few notes in the front of my copy to refer me to a few key sections where he outlines his philosophy, predicts war between England & Germany, discusses women & feminism, & promotes "practical eugenics".. but, writing this review, I find that I really don't care that much. Wells, for me, is more like an old acquaintance who I like to catch up on from time to time.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 23, 2009 – Shelved
September 23, 2009 – Shelved as: literature
September 23, 2009 – Shelved as: politics
September 23, 2009 – Finished Reading

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