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    Author's Note to the Reader

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    Chapter 1
    This book is in all probability the last of a series of writings,
    of which--disregarding certain earlier disconnected essays--my
    Anticipations was the beginning. Originally I intended Anticipations
    to be my sole digression from my art or trade (or what you will)
    of an imaginative writer. I wrote that book in order to clear up
    the muddle in my own mind about innumerable social and political
    questions, questions I could not keep out of my work, which it
    distressed me to touch upon in a stupid haphazard way, and which
    no one, so far as I knew, had handled in a manner to satisfy my
    needs. But Anticipations did not achieve its end. I have a slow
    constructive hesitating sort of mind, and when I emerged from that
    undertaking I found I had still most of my questions to state and
    solve. In Mankind in the Making, therefore, I tried to review
    the social organisation in a different way, to consider it as an
    educational process instead of dealing with it as a thing with
    a future history, and if I made this second book even less
    satisfactory from a literary standpoint than the former (and this is
    my opinion), I blundered, I think, more edifyingly--at least from
    the point of view of my own instruction. I ventured upon several
    themes with a greater frankness than I had used in Anticipations,
    and came out of that second effort guilty of much rash writing, but
    with a considerable development of formed opinion. In many matters I
    had shaped out at last a certain personal certitude, upon which I
    feel I shall go for the rest of my days. In this present book I have
    tried to settle accounts with a number of issues left over or opened
    up by its two predecessors, to correct them in some particulars, and
    to give the general picture of a Utopia that has grown up in my mind
    during the course of these speculations as a state of affairs at
    once possible and more desirable than the world in which I live. But
    this book has brought me back to imaginative writing again. In its
    two predecessors the treatment of social organisation had been
    purely objective; here my intention has been a little wider and
    deeper, in that I have tried to present not simply an ideal, but an
    ideal in reaction with two personalities. Moreover, since this may
    be the last book of the kind I shall ever publish, I have written
    into it as well as I can the heretical metaphysical scepticism upon
    which all my thinking rests, and I have inserted certain sections
    reflecting upon the established methods of sociological and economic
    science....

    The last four words will not attract the butterfly reader, I know.
    I have done my best to make the whole of this book as lucid and
    entertaining as its matter permits, because I want it read by as
    many people as possible, but I do not promise anything but rage and
    confusion to him who proposes to glance through my pages just to see
    if I agree with him, or to begin in the middle, or to read without
    a constantly alert attention. If you are not already a little
    interested and open-minded with regard to social and political
    questions, and a little exercised in self-examination, you will find
    neither interest nor pleasure here. If your mind is "made up" upon
    such issues your time will be wasted on these pages. And even if you
    are a willing reader you may require a little patience for the
    peculiar method I have this time adopted.

    That method assumes an air of haphazard, but it is not so careless
    as it seems. I believe it to be--even now that I am through with the
    book--the best way to a sort of lucid vagueness which has always
    been my intention in this matter. I tried over several beginnings of
    a Utopian book before I adopted this. I rejected from the outset the
    form of the argumentative essay, the form which appeals most readily
    to what is called the "serious" reader, the reader who is often no
    more than the solemnly impatient parasite of great questions. He
    likes everything in hard, heavy lines, black and white, yes and no,
    because he does not understand how much there is that cannot be
    presented at all in that way; wherever there is any effect of
    obliquity, of incommensurables, wherever there is any levity
    or humour or difficulty of multiplex presentation, he refuses
    attention. Mentally he seems to be built up upon an invincible
    assumption that the Spirit of Creation cannot count beyond two, he
    deals only in alternatives. Such readers I have resolved not to
    attempt to please here. Even if I presented all my tri-clinic
    crystals as systems of cubes----! Indeed I felt it would not be
    worth doing. But having rejected the "serious" essay as a form, I
    was still greatly exercised, I spent some vacillating months, over
    the scheme of this book. I tried first a recognised method of
    viewing questions from divergent points that has always attracted me
    and which I have never succeeded in using, the discussion novel,
    after the fashion of Peacock's (and Mr. Mallock's) development of
    the ancient dialogue; but this encumbered me with unnecessary
    characters and the inevitable complication of intrigue among them,
    and I abandoned it. After that I tried to cast the thing into a
    shape resembling a little the double personality of Boswell's
    Johnson, a sort of interplay between monologue and commentator; but
    that too, although it got nearer to the quality I sought, finally
    failed. Then I hesitated over what one might call "hard narrative."
    It will be evident to the experienced reader that by omitting
    certain speculative and metaphysical elements and by elaborating
    incident, this book might have been reduced to a straightforward
    story. But I did not want to omit as much on this occasion. I do not
    see why I should always pander to the vulgar appetite for stark
    stories. And in short, I made it this. I explain all this in order
    to make it clear to the reader that, however queer this book
    appears at the first examination, it is the outcome of trial and
    deliberation, it is intended to be as it is. I am aiming throughout
    at a sort of shot-silk texture between philosophical discussion on
    the one hand and imaginative narrative on the other.

    H. G. WELLS.

    --

    THE OWNER OF THE VOICE

    There are works, and this is one of them, that are best begun with a
    portrait of the author. And here, indeed, because of a very natural
    misunderstanding this is the only course to take. Throughout these
    papers sounds a note, a distinctive and personal note, a note that
    tends at times towards stridency; and all that is not, as these
    words are, in Italics, is in one Voice. Now, this Voice, and this is
    the peculiarity of the matter, is not to be taken as the Voice of
    the ostensible author who fathers these pages. You have to clear
    your mind of any preconceptions in that respect. The Owner of the
    Voice you must figure to yourself as a whitish plump man, a little
    under the middle size and age, with such blue eyes as many Irishmen
    have, and agile in his movements and with a slight tonsorial
    baldness--a penny might cover it--of the crown. His front is convex.
    He droops at times like most of us, but for the greater part he
    bears himself as valiantly as a sparrow. Occasionally his hand flies
    out with a fluttering gesture of illustration. And his Voice (which
    is our medium henceforth) is an unattractive tenor that becomes at
    times aggressive. Him you must imagine as sitting at a table reading
    a manuscript about Utopias, a manuscript he holds in two hands that
    are just a little fat at the wrist. The curtain rises upon him so.
    But afterwards, if the devices of this declining art of literature
    prevail, you will go with him through curious and interesting
    experiences. Yet, ever and again, you will find him back at that
    little table, the manuscript in his hand, and the expansion of
    his ratiocinations about Utopia conscientiously resumed. The
    entertainment before you is neither the set drama of the work of
    fiction you are accustomed to read, nor the set lecturing of the
    essay you are accustomed to evade, but a hybrid of these two. If you
    figure this owner of the Voice as sitting, a little nervously, a
    little modestly, on a stage, with table, glass of water and all
    complete, and myself as the intrusive chairman insisting with a
    bland ruthlessness upon his "few words" of introduction before he
    recedes into the wings, and if furthermore you figure a sheet behind
    our friend on which moving pictures intermittently appear, and if
    finally you suppose his subject to be the story of the adventure of
    his soul among Utopian inquiries, you will be prepared for some at
    least of the difficulties of this unworthy but unusual work.

    But over against this writer here presented, there is also another
    earthly person in the book, who gathers himself together into a
    distinct personality only after a preliminary complication with the
    reader. This person is spoken of as the botanist, and he is a
    leaner, rather taller, graver and much less garrulous man. His face
    is weakly handsome and done in tones of grey, he is fairish
    and grey-eyed, and you would suspect him of dyspepsia. It is a
    justifiable suspicion. Men of this type, the chairman remarks with
    a sudden intrusion of exposition, are romantic with a shadow of
    meanness, they seek at once to conceal and shape their sensuous
    cravings beneath egregious sentimentalities, they get into mighty
    tangles and troubles with women, and he has had his troubles. You
    will hear of them, for that is the quality of his type. He gets no
    personal expression in this book, the Voice is always that other's,
    but you gather much of the matter and something of the manner of his
    interpolations from the asides and the tenour of the Voice.

    So much by way of portraiture is necessary to present the explorers
    of the Modern Utopia, which will unfold itself as a background
    to these two enquiring figures. The image of a cinematograph
    entertainment is the one to grasp. There will be an effect of these
    two people going to and fro in front of the circle of a rather
    defective lantern, which sometimes jams and sometimes gets out of
    focus, but which does occasionally succeed in displaying on a screen
    a momentary moving picture of Utopian conditions. Occasionally the
    picture goes out altogether, the Voice argues and argues, and the
    footlights return, and then you find yourself listening again to the
    rather too plump little man at his table laboriously enunciating
    propositions, upon whom the curtain rises now.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 1
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