The Last Books of H.G. Wells: The Happy Turning: A Dream of Life & Mind at the End of its Tether

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Overview

This volume contains the two last works by HG Wells. Nearing the end of his life, increasingly distressed over the war, Wells deals with death and apocalypse, mortality and religion, and with “human insufficiency.”
 
Mind at the End of its Tether
 
“One approaches it with awe. You come across ...

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The Last Books of H.G. Wells: The Happy Turning: A Dream of Life & Mind at the End of its Tether

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Overview

This volume contains the two last works by HG Wells. Nearing the end of his life, increasingly distressed over the war, Wells deals with death and apocalypse, mortality and religion, and with “human insufficiency.”
 
Mind at the End of its Tether
 
“One approaches it with awe. You come across references to it everywhere: Colin Wilson, Priestly, Koestler. It seems to have been a wounding work; something no one could agree with, but something that couldn’t be taken lightly.”—Art Beck
 
“In the face of our universal inadequacy . . . man must go steeply up or down and the odds seem to be all in favor of his going down and out. If he goes up, then so great is the adaptation demanded of him that he must cease to be a man. Ordinary man is at the end of his tether.”—HG Wells
 
The Happy Turning
 
Wells’ barbed fantasies about the afterlife take the forms of “happy” dream walks. In one he converses with Jesus:
 
But being crucified upon the irreparable things that one has done, realizing that one has failed, that you have let yourself down and your poor silly disciples down and mankind down, that the God in you has deserted you—that was the ultimate torment. Even on the cross I remember shouting out something about it.”
“Eli. Eli, lama sabachthani?” I said.
Did someone get that down?” he replied.
“Don’t you read the Gospels?”
Good God, No!” he said. “How can I? I was crucified before all that.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780976684312
  • Publisher: Monkfish Book Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Series: Provenance Editions Series
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 1,428,336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

H. G. Wells

The "father of science fiction." British author of THE OUTSIDER and many other books

Biography

Social philosopher, utopian, novelist, and "father" of science fiction and science fantasy, Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent. His father was a poor businessman, and young Bertie's mother had to work as a lady's maid. Living "below stairs" with his mother at an estate called Uppark, Bertie would sneak into the grand library to read Plato, Swift, and Voltaire, authors who deeply influenced his later works. He shoed literary and artistic talent in his early stories and paintings, but the family had limited means, and when he was fourteen years old, Bertie was sent as an apprentice to a dealer in cloth and dry goods, work he disliked.

He held jobs in other trades before winning a scholarship to study biology at the Normal School of Science in London. The eminent biologist T. H. Huxley, a friend and proponent of Darwin, was his teacher; about him Wells later said, "I believed then he was the greatest man I was ever likely to meet." Under Huxley's influence, Wells learned the science that would inspire many of his creative works and cultivated the skepticism about the likelihood of human progress that would infuse his writing.

Teaching, textbook writing, and journalism occupied Wells until 1895, when he made his literary debut with the now-legendary novel The Time Machine, which was followed before the end of the century by The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, books that established him as a major writer. Fiercely critical of Victorian mores, he published voluminously, in fiction and nonfiction, on the subject of politics and social philosophy. Biological evolution does not ensure moral progress, as Wells would repeat throughout his life, during which he witnessed two world wars and the debasement of science for military and political ends.

In addition to social commentary presented in the guise of science fiction, Wells authored comic novels like Love and Mrs. Lewisham, Kipps, and The History of Mister Polly that are Dickensian in their scope and feeling, and a feminist novel, Ann Veronica. He wrote specific social commentary in The New Machiavelli, an attack on the socialist Fabian Society, which he had joined and then rejected, and literary parody (of Henry James) in Boon. He wrote textbooks of biology, and his massive The Outline of History was a major international bestseller.

By the time Wells reached middle age, he was admired around the world, and he used his fame to promote his utopian vision, warning that the future promised "Knowledge or extinction." He met with such preeminent political figures as Lenin, Roosevelt, and Stalin, and continued to publish, travel, and educate during his final years. Herbert George Wells died in London on August 13, 1946.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The War of the Worlds.

Good To Know

In 1891, Wells married his cousin Isabel. However, he eventually left her for one of his brightest students, Amy Catherine, whom he married in 1895.

Wells was once interviewed on the radio by an extremely nervous Orson Welles. The two are unrelated, of course.

Many of Wells's novels became film adaptations, including The Island of Dr. Moreau, filmed in 1996 by Richard Stanley and John Frankenheimer, and The Time Machine, filmed in 2002 by Wells's great-grandson, Simon Wells.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Herbert George Wells (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1866
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bromley, Kent, England
    1. Date of Death:
      August 13, 1946
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Thoughts At the End

    Here is a handsome, worthwhile book, reasonably priced--however, the title requires qualification. These final two works of H. G. Wells (1866-1946) are essays, pamphlets really. THE HAPPY TURNING comes in at a robust thirty-two pages; MIND AT THE END OF ITS TETHER totals twenty-four, even with a brief preface. It demands mention that there are insightful, illuminating introductions by Colin Wilson and Rudy Rucker.
    THE HAPPY TURNING is a whimsical account of dreams sent by his unconscious to relieve war obsession. Happy Turning Land is full of his suppressed desires and fantasies. Most notable are conversations with the modest ("I was not a bad carpenter") Jesus of Nazareth. To His mind the program He initiated just got out of hand: "NEVER have disciples." All in all, THE HAPPY TURNING is pleasant reading.
    MIND AT THE END OF ITS TETHER is another matter, a work mentioned rightfully as the final profoundly pessimistic thoughts of Wells (and he died of liver cancer within months of its publication). The essay concludes with some Wellsian musings on biology, but the dark heart of it is the opening half. The author detects a strange metaphysical shift in the universe: a "cosmic movement of events is increasingly adverse," and "a frightful queerness has come into life." An emerging force labelled the "Antagonist" is inimical to mankind and the universe "is going clean out of existence." He expresses hope that humanity will not end "like drunken cowards in a daze or poisoned rats in a sack."
    The dazed reader can certainly believe that this is the final eloquent outburst of an addled mind belonging to a formerly great writer and thinker now facing imminent death. But he or she will not have read anything like it.

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    Posted December 5, 2008

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