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Tony Grist

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Ann Veronica: H.G. Wells [Apr. 9th, 2011|09:52 am]
Tony Grist
My grandmother had a copy of Ann Veronica on her shelves. As far as I can remember it was the only Wells she owned. I like to think she read it when it first came out and found it heartening.

I've always rather kept Wells at arm's length. I read the early SF novels when I was a kid and The New Machiavelli at University- and carried away the impression that he wasn't really my sort of thing. I was wrong.  Ann Veronica is awfully jolly- a breezy, loosely constructed yarn about a young girl getting her mojo on among the suffragettes and Tolstoyans and frog-eyed sugar daddies of a prematurely swinging, Edwardian London. 

[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-04-09 10:24 am (UTC)
H L Mencken argued that early Wells was one of the greatest novelists of his age, but that after he became an evangelist for the socialist cause his work suffered immensely. It's a thesis I find generally useful.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-09 11:17 am (UTC)
That's probably right. The novels that people still read are the early ones. Mind you, I haven't read any of the later ones. Who knows, perhaps some of them are neglected masterpieces.

Literary reputation is a funny thing. I think a lot of writers of that period are under-rated- especially those that can't easily be slotted into the modernist narrative.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-04-10 03:39 pm (UTC)
Here is Mencken's, "The Late Mr Wells", the particular essay I had in mind. It might be of interest, if nothing else for the Wells texts it names.

I am unsure of Mencken's literary eye in general, though I note that he seems to mention Ann Veronica approvingly. I know that he considered Poe to be one of the greatest lights of American literature, suggesting that he at least knew a pearl when he saw one. HLM's essay, "The National Letters", is a must-read in this regard.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-04-11 08:59 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link.
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