Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Kipps: H.G. Wells

The original title was The Wealth of Mr Waddy- and the idea was- as it were- to follow the money- from its origins with the unspeakable Waddy, through the possession of hapless Arthur Kipps,  to its dispersal at the hands of the Nietzschean embezeller Walshingham. In the event the scheme proved unsaleable and Wells cut off the wings of the triptych to leave the Kipps portion as a standalone. In this revision the book became more genially comic, less about money and more about class and social aspiration- and was left a little ragged around its rear end.

Kipps, the simple soul, is more lovable than most of Wells' aspiring young men. He has his social climbing thrust upon him- and when he behaves like a cad- as Wells' young men occasionally do- it's under the pressure of forces he can't control. These forces- the small town gentry who batten onto him and leech off him- are portrayed with furious disdain- but with an understanding of what makes them tick that keeps the whole enterprise on the right side of caricature. Coote the provincial arbiter of taste- a type I've tripped across myself- and Helen Walshingham, the girl who persuades herself she loves Kipps when she's using him as a means to an end- are themselves Wellsian self-improvers, twisted brother and sister of Mr Lewisham and Ann Veronica.  With a slight change of emphasis they might have taken centre stage in books of their own. 
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