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:


Opie, decorated
Opie, decorated in beads
Opie, decorated in polka dots
Opie, decorated in polka dots

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