A Modern Utopia is a 1905 novel by H. G. Wells.
Because of the complexity and sophistication of its narrative structure A Modern Utopia has been called "not so much a modern as a postmodern utopia." The novel is best known for its notion that a voluntary order of nobility known as the Samurai could effectively rule a "kinetic and not static" world state so as to solve "the problem of combining progress with political stability".
|A Modern Utopia|
Cover of the first edition
|Author||H. G. Wells|
|Publisher||Chapman and Hall|
|April 1905 (serialized in the Fortnightly Review, October 1904-April 1905)|
|Preceded by||The Food of the Gods|
In his preface Wells forecasts (incorrectly) that A Modern Utopia would be the last of a series of volumes on social problems that he began in 1901 with Anticipations and that included Mankind in the Making (1903). Unlike those non-fictional works, A Modern Utopia is presented as a tale told by a sketchily described character known only as the Owner of the Voice, who, Wells warns the reader, "is not to be taken as the Voice of the ostensible author who fathers these pages". He is accompanied by another character known as "the botanist". Interspersed into the narrative are discursive remarks on various matters, creating what Wells calls in his preface "a sort of shot-silk texture between philosophical discussion on the one hand and imaginative narrative on the other.". In addition, there are frequent comparisons to and discussions of previous utopian works.
In his Experiment in Autobiography (1934) Wells wrote that A Modern Utopia "was the first approach I made to the dialogue form", and that "the trend towards dialogue, like the basal notion of the Samurai, marks my debt to Plato. A Modern Utopia, quite as much as that of More, derives frankly from the Republic."
The premise of the novel is that there is a planet (for "No less than a planet will serve the purpose of a modern Utopia") exactly like Earth, with the same geography and biology. Moreover, on that planet "all the men and women that you know and I" exist "in duplicate". They have, however, "different habits, different traditions, different knowledge, different ideas, different clothing, and different appliances." (Not however, a different language: "Indeed, should we be in Utopia at all, if we could not talk to everyone?").
To this planet "out beyond Sirius" the Owner of the Voice and the botanist are translated, imaginatively, "in the twinkling of an eye . . . We should scarcely note the change. Not a cloud would have gone from the sky." Their point of entry is on the slopes of the Piz Lucendro in the Swiss Alps.
The adventures of these two characters are traced through eleven chapters. Little by little they discover how Utopia is organized. It is a world with "no positive compulsions at all . . . for the adult Utopian—unless they fall upon him as penalties incurred."
The Owner of the Voice and the botanist are soon required to account for their presence. When their thumbprints are checked against records in "the central index housed in a vast series of buildings at or near Paris," both discover they have doubles in Utopia. They journey to London to meet them, and the Owner of the Voice's double is a member of the Samurai, a voluntary order of nobility that rules Utopia. "These samurai form the real body of the State."
Running through the novel as a foil to the main narrative is the botanist's obsession with an unhappy love affair back on Earth. The Owner of the Voice is annoyed at this undignified and unworthy insertion of earthly affairs in Utopia, but when the botanist meets the double of his beloved in Utopia the violence of his reaction bursts the imaginative bubble that has sustained the narrative and the two men find themselves back in early-twentieth-century London.
The world shares the same language, coinage, customs, and laws, and freedom of movement is general. Some personal property is allowed, but "all natural sources of force, and indeed all strictly natural products" are "inalienably vested in the local authorities" occupying "areas as large sometimes as half England." The World State is "the sole landowner of the earth." Units of currency are based on units of energy, so that "employment would constantly shift into the areas where energy was cheap." Humanity has been almost entirely liberated from the need for physical labor: "There appears to be no limit to the invasion of life by the machine."
The narrator's double describes the ascetic Rule by which the samurai live: it includes a ban on alcohol and drugs, and a mandatory annual one-week solitary ramble in the wilderness. He also explains the social theory of Utopia, which distinguished four "main classes of mind": The Poietic, the Kinetic, the Dull, and the Base. Poietic minds are creative or inventive; kinetic minds are able but not particularly inventive; the Dull have "inadequate imagination," and the Base are mired in egotism and lack "moral sense."
There is extensive discussion of gender roles in A Modern Utopia, but no recognition of the existence of homosexuality. A chapter entitled "Women in a Modern Utopia" makes it clear that women are to be as free as men. Motherhood is subsidized by the state. Only those who can support themselves can marry, women at 21 and men at 26 or 27. Marriages that remain childless "expire" after a term of three to five years, but the partners may marry again if they choose.
A Modern Utopia is also notable for Chapter 10 ("Race in Utopia"), an enlightened discussion of race. Contemporary racialist discourse is condemned as crude, ignorant, and extravagant. "For my own part I am disposed to discount all adverse judgments and all statements of insurmountable differences between race and race."
The narrator is told, "In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughter-houses. And, in a population that is all educated, and at about the same level of physical refinement, it is practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig. We never settled the hygienic question of meat-eating at all. This other aspect decided us. I can still remember, as a boy, the rejoicings over the closing of the last slaughter-house".
Several Samurai societies were formed in response to A Modern Utopia, and Wells met members of one of them in April 1907 at the New Reform Club.
At a memorial service at the Royal Institution on 30 October 1946, two and a half months after Wells's death, William Beveridge read passages from the book and called it the work that had influenced him the most.
According to Vincent Brome, Wells's first comprehensive biographer after his death, it was widely read by university students and "released hundreds of young people into sexual adventure." W. Warren Wagar praised it, describing it and Wells's other utopian novels (Men Like Gods and The Shape of Things to Come) as "landmarks in that extraordinarily difficult genre".
Marie-Louise Berneri was also critical of the book, stating that "Wells commits the faults of his forerunners by introducing a vast amount of legislation into his utopia" and that "Wells's conception of freedom turns out to be a very narrow one". Wells's biographer Michael Sherborne criticizes the book for depicting "an undemocratic one-party state" in which truth is established not by critical discussion but by shared faith.
Anthony West (4 August 1914 – 27 December 1987) was a British author and literary critic.Bolak language
Bolak is a constructed language that was invented by Léon Bollack. The name of the language means both "blue language" and "ingenious creation" in the language itself.Cliff Henderson
Clifford "Cliff" Henderson (1895–1984) was the managing director of the National Air Races from 1928 through 1939. Described as "the Barnum of aviation," he obtained sponsors for two of the most well-known air races of the period, the Bendix transcontinental and the Thompson closed-course classics. The Thompson Trophy was first awarded in 1929. The 1929 National Air Races included the first official women-only event, the Women's Air Derby, a cross-country race from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1931, he convinced businessman Vincent Bendix to sponsor the Bendix Trophy Race, a transcontinental speed dash open to men and women. Henderson was awarded the L'Ordre de 'Etoile Noire de Benin for his service in World War II as the U.S. Air Force Military Commissioner of Dakar.
With his brother Phillip, Henderson built the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in 1935. The landmark Streamline Moderne convention center, designed by Los Angeles architects Wurdeman & Becket, was the region's primary indoor venue with 100,000 square feet of exhibition space and seating for up to 6,000. It closed after the 1972 opening of the much larger Los Angeles Convention Center.Henderson and his brother Randall founded Palm Desert, California in the 1940s, envisioning a modern utopia growing from the scrub. He built the Shadow Mountain Club in 1948. With its glamorous figure-eight swimming pool and high-dive competitions, the club drew celebrities, presidents, and future residents.H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English writer. He was prolific in many genres, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary, satire, biography, and autobiography, and even including two books on recreational war games. He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels and is often called a "father of science fiction", along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback.During his own lifetime, however, he was most prominent as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale. A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web. His science fiction imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. Brian Aldiss referred to Wells as the "Shakespeare of science fiction". Wells rendered his works convincing by instilling commonplace detail alongside a single extraordinary assumption – dubbed “Wells’s law” – leading Joseph Conrad to hail him in 1898 as "O Realist of the Fantastic!". His most notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and the military science fiction The War in the Air (1907). Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.Wells's earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context. He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political and didactic, and he wrote little science fiction, while he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of journalist. Novels such as Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, which describe lower-middle-class life, led to the suggestion that he was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole. A diabetic, Wells co-founded the charity The Diabetic Association (known today as Diabetes UK) in 1934.H. G. Wells (crater)
H. G. Wells is a lunar impact crater that is located on the far side of the Moon, behind the northeastern limb. It lies to the south of the crater Millikan, and to the northeast of Cantor. Just to the southeast is the smaller Tesla.
This large formation is most notable for the extremely battered state of its outer rim. Little or nothing remains of the original rim, so completely has it been eroded and incised by smaller craters. As a result, the crater floor is now surrounded by a ring of irregular peaks and worn crater valleys. This rugged surroundings intrudes only part way into the interior, while the remaining floor is relatively level and in some places gently rolling. The interior is marked only by a multitude of tiny craterlets.
The writer H. G. Wells earned the right to have a Moon crater named after him by his well-known science fiction, including the novel The First Men in the Moon.In the Abyss
"In the Abyss" is a short story by English writer H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in Pearson's Magazine. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells first published in 1897. The story describes a journey to the ocean bed in a specially-designed metal sphere; the explorer within discovers a civilization of human-like creatures.Japanophile
Japanophilia refers to the appreciation and love of Japanese culture, people or history. In Japanese, the term for Japanophile is "shinnichi" (親日), with "親" "shin" (しん) equivalent to the English prefix 'pro-', and "日" "nichi" (にち), meaning "Japanese" (as in the word for Japan "Nihon" (日本)). The term was first used as early as the 18th century, switching in scope over time.Joseph Wells (cricketer)
Joseph Wells (14 July 1828 – 14 October 1910) was an English cricketer and father of the noted author H. G. Wells.Mankind in the Making
Mankind in the Making (1903) is H.G. Wells's sequel to Anticipations (1901). Mankind in the Making analyzes the "process" of "man's making," i.e. "the great complex of circumstances which mould the vague possibilities of the average child into the reality of the citizen of the modern state." Taking an aggressive tone in criticizing many aspects of contemporary institutions, Wells proposed a doctrine he called "New Republicanism," which "tests all things by their effect upon the evolution of man."The volume consists of eleven "papers" that were first published in the British Fortnightly Review from September 1902 to September 1903 and in the American Cosmopolitan, and an appendix. It was reprinted by Chapman and Hall in 1906 in a cheaper edition, and again in 1914, on the eve of World War I.Men Like Gods
Men Like Gods (1923) is a novel, referred to by the author as a "scientific fantasy", by English writer H. G. Wells. It features a utopia located in a parallel universe.Meta-reference
Meta-reference is a special type of self-reference that can occur in all media or medial artifacts, for instance literature, film, painting, TV series, comic strips, or video games. It includes all references to, or comments on, a specific medium, medial artifact, or the media in general. These references and comments originate from a logically higher level (a 'meta-level') within any given artifact, and draw attention to—or invite reflection about—media-related issues (e.g. the production, performance, or reception) of said artifact, specific other artifacts (as in parody), or to parts, or the entirety, of the medial system. It is, therefore, the recipient's awareness of an artifact's medial quality that distinguishes meta-reference from more general forms of self-reference. Thus, meta-reference triggers media-awareness within the recipient, who, in turn "becomes conscious of both the medial (or 'fictional' in the sense of artificial and, sometimes in addition, 'invented') status of the work" as well as "the fact that media-related phenomena are at issue, rather than (hetero-)references to the world outside the media." Although certain devices, such as mise-en-abîme, may be conducive to meta-reference, they are not necessarily metareferential themselves. Similarly, innately metareferential devices, such as metalepsis, are to be seen as special cases of meta-reference. The terms meta-reference and metalepsis can, therefore, not be used synonymously.Nek Chand
Nek Chand Saini (15 December 1924 – 12 June 2015) was a self-taught Indian artist, known for building the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, an eighteen-acre sculpture garden in the city of Chandigarh.He hailed from Shakargarh region (now in Pakistan) of district Gurdaspur. His family moved to Chandigarh in 1947 during the Partition. At the time, the city was being redesigned as a modern utopia by the Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. It was to be the first planned city in India, and Chand found work there as a roads inspector for the Public Works Department in 1951. He was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 1984. He died in 2015.The Argonauts of the Air
"The Argonauts of the Air" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 in Phil May's Annual. It was included in the collection of Wells short stories The Plattner Story and Others, published by Methuen & Co. in 1897.Written several years before the first flight of the Wright brothers, it describes the painstaking development of a flying machine, in the face of public amusement, and its unsuccessful trial flight over London.
Wells lived at one time in Worcester Park, where the machine is launched; he studied at the Royal College of Science, where it crashes.The Cone
"The Cone" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895 in Unicorn. It was intended to be "the opening chapter of a sensational novel set in the Five Towns", later abandoned.The story is set at an ironworks in Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire. An artist is there to depict the industrial landscape; the manager of the ironworks discovers his affair with his wife, and takes him on a tour of the factory, where there are dangerous features.The Diamond Maker
"The Diamond Maker" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1894 in the Pall Mall Budget. It was included in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, the first collection of short stories by Wells, first published in 1895.
In the story, a businessman hears an account from a man who has devoted years attempting to make artificial diamonds, only to end as a desperate outcast.The Plattner Story
"The Plattner Story" is a short story by English writer H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in The New Review. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells first published in 1897, and in The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, a collection of his short stories first published in 1911. In the story, a man recounts his experiences in a parallel world.The Sea Raiders
"The Sea Raiders" is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1896 in The Weekly Sun Literary Supplement. It was included in The Plattner Story and Others, a collection of short stories by Wells published by Methuen & Co. in 1897. It was included in The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, a collection of short stories by Wells published by Thomas Nelson & Sons in 1911.The story describes a brief period when a previously unknown sort of giant squid, which attacks humans, is encountered on the coast of Devon, England.This Misery of Boots
This Misery of Boots is a 1907 political tract by H. G. Wells advocating socialism. Published by the Fabian Society, This Misery of Boots is the expansion of a 1905 essay with the same name. Its five chapters condemn private property in land and means of production and calls for their expropriation by the state "not for profit, but for service."Æpyornis Island
"Æpyornis Island", or "Aepyornis Island", is a short story by H. G. Wells, first published in 1894 in the Pall Mall Budget. It was included in The Stolen Bacillus and Other Incidents, the first collection of short stories by Wells, first published in 1895.
In the story, a man looking for eggs of Aepyornis, an extinct flightless bird, passes two years alone on a small island with an Aepyornis that has hatched.