H. G. Wells quote of the day, from Meanwhile (The Picture of a Lady), 1927:
“I perceive I have been meanwhiling all my life. Meanwhiling . . . Have I been living?” (Shrug of the shoulders and gesture of the hands.) “No, I have been meanwhiling away my time.”
And for once his own bright observation pierced back and searched and pricked himself.
I have never read H. G. Wells, although as a kid I was rather fond of the 1960 film adaptation of The Time Machine and watched it a few times on midnight TV. Since I didn’t know anything about Wells, I didn’t understand the contexts of the man and the writer, and hence didn’t know his science fiction works (or, in the words of his publishers, “Fantastic and Imaginative Romances”) were social/cultural/political commentaries. And I certainly did not know about his non-SF novels.
I no longer remember how I got onto Meanwhile — yesterday, or two weeks ago, gets to be a long time ago. I thought it was going to be a drawing room comedy-satire — something Wilde- or Coward-like — and it isn’t. Meanwhile is not sharp or ironical enough — it is far more earnest, insistent and demanding, the apprehension of class and gender roles a product of its time. And despite the utopographer in the garden, its audience is long dead. So now I have a vague understanding of the General Strike of 1926, and a certain discomfiture in the conclusion that there are sometimes good reasons why certain books, even by great writers, are consigned to storage.
Meanwhile … obligatory Opie pictures: