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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Not an Autobiography

The New Machiavelli

H. G. Wells

1911

Link

2018-02-04

Read The New Machiavelli, which I thought might offer some context on the old Machiavelli, but only made the analogy to an interest in statecraft. I thought then that it was an autobiography of "War of the Worlds" H. G. Wells since it's in the world Wells would have inhabited, but apparently that's not quite so either.

It's a book about an aristocrat growing up then becoming involved in a socialist political movement. The struggle to nail down his goals ends in realizing he wants a state that nurtures the beauty of high literary and scientific culture, is much more liberal regarding love and women, helps the poor in some vague ways, and perhaps has a bit of eugenics.

The book ends with the main character abandoning his political career and marriage to elope with a student.

"I'm not in love with her now; I'm RAW with love for her. I feel like a man that's been flayed. I have been flayed.... there are distresses that matter more than all the delights or achievements in the world.... I made her what she is—as I never made Margaret. I've made her—I've broken her.... I'm going with my own woman. The rest of my life and England, and so forth, must square itself to that...."

For this, and less for the politics, the book was controversial in its time.

The real Wells, "[w]ith his wife Jane's consent,...had affairs with a number of women" [Wikipedia], so I suppose questioning the firmness of monogamy was personal.