War of the Worlds : without me

September 24, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells 1898.

Title of the book one: The Coming of the Martians. It was such a put off that I took the book several times in hand before turning that first page. Without Max’s previous comment that War of the Worlds was a way to criticize British colonialism, I would have put the book back on the shelf.

So I started it and really, the first chapter was promising, I could see the metaphor with European colonialists. But then, no sorry, metaphor or not, the story of Tripods and Heat-Rays (I know, it’s for rifles) didn’t make it. I flipped through the table of contents: 150 pages of war before the description of life under the Martian rule, which seemed more interesting to me.

Too much for me. I hesitated (I could try to read past page 69, couldn’t I?) then saw my TBR shelves and thought about using that reading time for something that would really appeal to me. Un livre qui me ferait plaisir.

This is why I abandoned War of the Worlds, a book victim of my limited reading time. I’m sure it’s a great novel but not for me, not at this moment.

  1. September 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I’ve started and abandoned (temporarily or otherwise) about a million books for the reasons you mentioned. Well, for the non-Martian reasons anyway. 😀 Bon week-end, Emma!

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    • September 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm

      Believe it or not, I picked up a book by Tabucchi on the shelf instead and the opening quote was about Martians.
      I thought it was safer to read the Calvetti. A book about an Emma who runs a bookstore can do me no harm 🙂
      Bon week-end à toi aussi.

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  2. September 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I saw this in your “Currently reading” section and thought “Please no!”.
    I was heard, I’m glad.
    I really thought it would be utterly, utterly dull.

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    • September 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      It’s part of my Not A Rat’s Chance in Hell’s Challenge.
      I don’t think it’s a dull book. I think it’s not for me, there’s a nuance.

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  3. September 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    As I mentioned on Himadri’s blog, I once read a quip about the narrowness of science-fiction plots: we go there or they come here. A terrible over-generalisation and simplification, but having read it, I can’t get it out of my mind.

    The social novels by HG Wells are a delight, so I hope you won’t wipe him off as a writer. I don’t care for his sc-fi either, I have to admit, but his social novels are something else. Sublime, witty, wise.

    And on another note, the old War of the Worlds film is a lot of fun.

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    • September 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      I won’t “wipe him off” as a writer. I think it wasn’t a good time for me to read this.
      Which of his social books do you recommend ? If it’s like George Orwell, I’m interested.

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  4. September 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Everyone remembers for his sci-fi and that’s unfortunate really.

    The History of Mr Polly.

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    • September 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      PS The Belle Epoque book looks fascinating

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      • September 25, 2011 at 12:02 am

        It’s interesting especially when reading Proust. Lucky me, it also compares France to other countries, particularly to Britain and Germany. It helps me with British literature too.

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    • September 25, 2011 at 12:01 am

      Thanks, I’ll remember that

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  5. September 25, 2011 at 2:08 am

    There’s always far too much to read even amongst books one enjoys, so there’s little point in continuing to read a book that you are not enjoying, and which youyu know, given its content and your own tastes, that you *won’t* enjoy!

    I must confess to never having read any of H. G. Wells’ novels, but I have enjoyed many of his short stories. There’s one called “The Red Room”, which is a ghost story without a ghost: its purpose is to evoke a sense of terror, but a terror that is causeless. It’s a marvellous piece of writing.

    I don’t really fancy his science fiction novels either, but would like to give “Kipps” or “the History of Mr polly” a try.

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    • September 25, 2011 at 8:19 am

      What you tell about “The Red Room” reminds me of Le Horla, also a ghost story without a ghost.

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  6. September 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I don’t think it’s at all a dull book, but if it hasn’t grabbed you by page 69 it likely won’t by page 169.

    All Well’s fiction ultimately is social fiction. The colonialism here is, as I think you spotted, that Britain’s treatment of Africa is transposed back to English soil with the Martians now taking our place and us the Africans. We are treated much as we treated others.

    It’s very much a “how would you like it?” novel. The ending, which I probably shouldn’t speak to in case anyone reading this wants to read it and hasn’t, is itself a very direct reference to the British experience in West Africa.

    Anyway, it’s very rarely worthwhile suffering for a book. The TBR pile ever beckons, and life’s too short. I do sometimes push to finish a book, but only where I expect the final payoff to be worth the effort.

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    • September 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      I had understood the “how would you like it” attitude and I saw a reference to Africa, not to India. I don’t know why. Perhaps you had mentioned it before. I think he’s ahead of his time. Not a lot of voices criticized colonialism at that time. But I didn’t manage to be interested in the errands of the unnamed Narrator. (I tried in English and switched to French, thinking it would help)
      I’ll try again later maybe, I’ve had two tough weeks and my patience wasn’t at its best.

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  7. October 1, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I read HG Wells but find him quite hard to take. In the same way that comedy treads a fine line when it indulges in racism/sexism ‘ironically’ I often struggle to see Wells’ social commentary through the apparent cruelty that he uses to illustrate his points.

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    • October 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

      I see I’m not the only one who had difficulties with HG Wells. Which one did you read?

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  8. October 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    First Men in the Moon, Time Machine, War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Island of Dr Moreau… So I did stick with it! I liked the last one best, but it still had that unsettling edge that precludes any notion of enjoyment. The History of Mr Polly really did for me, but perhaps I will read it one day.

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    • October 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      How is Time Machine?

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  9. October 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I tentatively suggest that you would like Time Machine better than War of the Worlds. Yeah, it’s brutal, but the commentary on social evolution is more startling than his straight colonial stuff. (But we are going back a bit. I read these in my teens when my reading was regimented and library led. Having read one HG Wells I would have read everything the library had before moving onto the next author.) First Men in the Moon is probably my least favourite.

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  1. December 10, 2011 at 5:59 am
  2. January 1, 2012 at 1:10 am
  3. November 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

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