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Category Archives: Utopian novel

It’s a gas, gas, gas….In the Days of the Comet by H G Wells (1906)

In-The-Days-Of-The-Comet-H.G.Wells-First-Edition

In the Days of The Comet takes  us down one path, a narrative of a love triangle, but then half way through unexpectedly   races off down another.

In the short prologue  we are introduced  to an old man who tells  us,  “I have  set myself to write the story of the Great Change, so far as it has affected my own life and the lives of one or two people closely connected with me, primarily to please myself.” The narrative that follows  is therefore peppered with his comments from the perspective of the future.

You must understand--and every year it becomes increasingly difficult
to understand--how entirely different the world was then from what
it is now. It was a dark world; it was full of preventable disorder,
preventable diseases, and preventable pain, of harshness and stupid
unpremeditated cruelties; but yet, it may be even by virtue of
the general darkness, there were moments of a rare and evanescent
beauty that seem no longer possible in my experience. The
great Change has come for ever more, happiness and beauty are our
atmosphere, there is peace on earth and good will to all men. None
would dare to dream of returning to the sorrows of the former time,
and yet that misery was pierced, ever and again its gray curtain was stabbed through and through by joys 
of an intensity, by perceptionsof a keenness that it seems to me are now altogether gone out of life. Is
it the Change, I wonder, that has robbed life of its extremes, or is it perhaps only this, that youth has left me--even the strength of middle years leaves me now--and taken its despairs
and raptures, leaving me judgment, perhaps, sympathy, memories?

The old man is Willie Leaford,  fifty years ago a   young man living in the Potteries, a socialist angry at the world who is love with Nettie. Leaford loses his job while Nettie throws him over for Edward Verrall, a wealthy young man,  and they elope.

I had grown so accustomed to think of Nettie as inseparably
mine--the whole tradition of "true love" pointed me to that--that
for her to face about with these precise small phrases toward
abandonment, after we had kissed and whispered and come so close
in the little adventurous familiarities of the young, shocked me
profoundly. I! I! And Rawdon didn't find me indispensable either.
I felt I was suddenly repudiated by the universe and threatened
with effacement, that in some positive and emphatic way I must at
once assert myself. There was no balm in the religion I had learnt,
or in the irreligion I had adopted, for wounded self-love.

Willie buys a revolver and pursues them to the coast. So far so conventional. But these  personal  events are taking place against a background of two momentous events.

Firstly, the approach  to the earth of a comet:

Comet

...the comet which had been on the first occasion only a dubious speck 
in the sky, certainly visible only when it was magnified, was 
now a great white presence, brighter than Jupiter, and casting a shadow
 on its own account. It was now actively present in the world of human
 thought, every one was talking about it, every one was looking
 for its waxing splendor as the sun went down--the papers, the 
music-halls, the hoardings, echoed it.

Leaford,  in conversation with his fellow socialist Parload,  invokes the comet:

We were presently abroad, walking through the warm summer's night
and talking all the more freely for that. But one thing that I
said I can remember. "I wish at times," said I, with a gesture at
the heavens, "that comet of yours or some such thing would indeed
strike this world--and wipe us all away, strikes, wars, tumults,
loves, jealousies, and all the wretchedness of life!"

Secondly, the outbreak of war with Germany in which battleships fight each other along the  very coast where Leaford is in pursuit of the lovers:

On, on! I groaned with the violence of my effort. I staggered
again and swore. I felt the concussions of great guns tear past me
through the murk.

They were gone! Everything was going, but I kept on running. Once
more I stumbled. There was something about my feet that impeded
me, tall grass or heather, but I could not see what it was, only
this smoke that eddied about my knees. There was a noise and spinning
in my brain, a vain resistance to a dark green curtain that was
falling, falling, falling, fold upon fold. Everything grew darker
and darker.

I made one last frantic effort, and raised my revolver, fired my
penultimate shot at a venture, and fell headlong to the ground.
And behold! the green curtain was a black one, and the earth and
I and all things ceased to be.

The whole of humanity  is put to sleep by a green gas created by the comet. Leaford awakes after several hours:

What was this place? How had I come to be sleeping here?

I could not remember.

It perplexed me that somehow my body felt strange to me. It was
unfamiliar--I could not tell how--and the barley, and the beautiful
weeds, and the slowly developing glory of the dawn behind; all
those things partook of the same unfamiliarity. I felt as though
I was a thing in some very luminous painted window, as though this
dawn broke through me. I felt I was part of some exquisite picture
painted in light and joy.

The comet gas wipes away the desire for violence and war,  for competition  and even for countries. A world state is created, while the old grimy smoke-ridden cities are torn down  and rebuilt for beauty alone.

All these vast cities have given way and gone, even as my native
Potteries and the Black Country have gone, and the lives that were
caught, crippled, starved, and maimed amidst their labyrinths, their
forgotten and neglected maladjustments, and their vast, inhuman,
ill-conceived industrial machinery have escaped--to life. Those
cities of growth and accident are altogether gone, never a chimney
smokes about our world to-day, and the sound of the weeping of
children who toiled and hungered, the dull despair of overburdened
women, the noise of brute quarrels in alleys, all shameful pleasures
and all the ugly grossness of wealthy pride have gone with them,
with the utter change in our lives. As I look back into the past
I see a vast exultant dust of house-breaking and removal rise
up into the clear air that followed the hour of the green vapors,
I live again the Year of Tents, the Year of Scaffolding, and like
the triumph of a new theme in a piece of music--the great cities
of our new days arise. Come Caerlyon and Armedon, the twin cities
of lower England, with the winding summer city of the Thames between,
and I see the gaunt dirt of old Edinburgh die to rise again white
and tall beneath the shadow of her ancient hill;

The gas hasaslo  wiped away jealousy,  and Willie becomes friends with Nettie and Edward. In time Willie begins a relationship with Anna and they have a child. But towards  the end of the novel Nettie comes to him,   and they recognise that they are still in love.  She  suggests a new kind of relationship in which the two couples share a home: “… we four from that time were very close, you understand, we were friends, helpers, personal lovers in a world of lovers.”

This is  the part of the novel that shocked some Edwardian readers, and  even some members of the Fabian Society of which Wells was a  leading figure,

Strip away the love triangle  and In the Days of the Comet  boils down to a vehicle for Wells to advance his critique  of early C20th industrial capitalism and his remedies eg the world state, a notion  that he was to return to in later novels and other  writings. The first half of the novel has life , whereas the second half is curiously lifeless, a common fault of Utopian novels I have discovered.

You can read the novel online here.

Adam Roberts has written a short sequel to the novel called In the Night of the Comet in which a second comet reverses the changes. Oh dear…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old man i

 

 

 

 

 

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A short holiday in Utopia: Men Like Gods by H G Wells (1923)

Men Like GodsIn Men Like Gods H G Wells takes us to his vision of Utopia. He follows in the wake of a number of other Utopian novels by socialists including  Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy,  News from Nowhere by William Morris, The Sorcery Shop by Robert Blatchford and Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The novel’s hero Mr Barnstaple is a typical Wellsian hero, an ordinary man who gets caught up in extraordinary events like Bert Smallways in Wells’ 1908 novel The War in the Air.

At the start  of the novel Mr Barnstaple is feeling stifled by his family;

He was a man of strong natural affections; he loved his family extremely
so that he knew it by heart, and when he was in these jaded moods it  bored him acutely. His three sons, who were all growing up, seemed to get leggier and larger every day; they sat down in the chairs he was just going to sit down in; they played him off his own pianola; they filled the house with hoarse, vast laughter at jokes that one couldn’t demand to be told; they cut in on the elderly harmless flirtations that had hitherto been one of his chief consolations in this vale; they beat  him at tennis; they fought playfully on the landings, and fell downstairs by twos and threes with an enormous racket. Their hats were everywhere. They were late for breakfast. They went to bed every night in a storm of uproar: “Haw, Haw, Haw–bump!” and their mother seemed to like it. They all cost money, with a cheerful disregard of the fact that everything had gone up except Mr. Barnstaple’s earning power.

He manages to escape  on a holiday on his own, but as he is  quietly motoring along near Windsor  he suddenly  finds himself  plucked into  another world, the result of a scientific experiment  that has gone wrong. A number of other cars have also been transported,  his companions in this new world include a Lord, a Cabinet Minister,  an entrepreneur, a Catholic priest and  a society beauty.

The visitors  dub this new world “Utopia” and the  barely clothed inhabitants “Utopians.”  The Utopians  have advanced technology and live  in a world of mountains, meadows and lakes  from which  war, disease and  poverty have been banished.

As they approached these mountains, broad stretches of golden corn-land  replaced the green of the pastures and then the cultivation became more diversified. He noted unmistakable vineyards on sunny slopes,  and the number of workers visible and the habitations multiplied. The little squadron of aeroplanes flew up a broad valley towards  a pass so that Mr. Barnstaple was able to scrutinize the mountain scenery. Came chestnut woods and at lastpines. There were Cyclopean turbines athwart the mountain torrents and long, low, many-windowed buildings that might serve some industrial purpose. A skilfully graded road with exceedingly bold, light and beautiful viaducts  mounted towards the pass. There were more people, he thought, in  the highland country than in the levels below, though still far
fewer than he would have seen upon any comparable countryside on earth.

Once their guests have been made comfortable, the Utopians –  Urthred, Lychnis, Serpentine and others –  explain the history of their society in a very lengthy  exposition.  It seems they are  thousand years in advance of Earth, having evolved from  what they called “The Age of Confusion”, an era  very similar to Earth in the C20th.  The world is a single entity with no countries,  no central government and no private property.

“We have been through that stage. We found at last that private property in all but very personal things was an intolerable nuisance
to mankind. We got rid of it. An artist or a scientific man has complete control of all the material he needs, we all own our tools
and appliances and have rooms and places of our own, but there is no property for trade or speculation. All this militant property,
this property of manoeuvre, has been quite got rid of. But how we got rid of it is a long story. It was not done in a few years.
The exaggeration of private property was an entirely natural and necessary stage in the development of human nature. It led at last
to monstrous results, but it was only through these monstrous and catastrophic results that men learnt the need and nature of the
limitations of private property.”

After many cycles of  rapid growth followed by decline and  catastrophe, the Utopians evolved a new form of society as a Utopian explains:

 He made it clear that the change over in Utopian affairs had been no sudden revolution. No new system of laws and customs, no new method of economic co-operation based on the idea of universal service to the common good, had sprung abruptly into being complete and finished. Throughout a long period, before and during the Last Age of Confusion, the foundations of the new state were laid by a growing multitude of inquirers and workers, having no set plan or preconceived method, but brought into unconscious co-operation by
a common impulse to service and a common lucidity and veracity of mind. It was only towards the climax of the Last Age of Confusion in
Utopia that psychological science began to develop with any vigour, comparable to the vigour of the development of geographical and
physical science during the preceding centuries. And the social and economic disorder which was checking experimental science and crippling the organized work of the universities was stimulating inquiry into the processes of human association and making it
desperate and fearless.

The  visitors have brought bacteria  with them –  unknown in this world –  leading to sickness  and death among the Utopians. They are  thetrefore placed in quarantine  in a castle on a crag. Here the novel (in which frankly not a great deal has been happening up to now ) changes gear slightly  moving into a satire on  the  colonial reflexes of Europeans. Only Mr Barnstaple has fully accepted what he has seen,   the rest regard the Utopians as weak and decadent, ripe for takeover.  Mr Catskill  (a character apparently based on Winston Churchill) explains  his plans:

“They will not know what to do. Do not be deceived by any outward shows of beauty and prosperity. These people are living, as the
ancient Peruvians were living in the time of Pizarro, in an enervating dream. They have drunken the debilitating draught of
Socialism and, as in ancient Peru, there is no health nor power of will left in them any more. A handful of resolute men and women who
can dare–may not only dare but triumph in the face of such a world. And thus it is I lay my plans before you…We have to turn this prison into a capitol, into the first foothold of mankind in this world. It is like a foot thrust into a reluctant door that must never more close upon our race.”

They intend to take hostages as a first step, but only succeed in killing several Utopians. Mr Barnstaple escapes as the Utopians encircling the crag  with a power cable. As they do so Mr Barnstaple notices something above :

Abruptly something black and spear-shaped appeared beside the little group of Earthlings above. It seemed to jump up beside them, it
paused and jumped again half the height of a man and jumped again. It was a flag being hauled up a flag staff, that Mr. Barnstaple had
not hitherto observed. It reached the top of the staff and hung limp.

Then some eddy in the air caught it. It flapped out for a moment, displayed a white star on a blue ground and dropped again. This was the flag of earth–this was the flag of the crusade to restore the blessings of competition, conflict and warfare to Utopia. Beneath it appeared the head of Mr. Burleigh, examining the Utopian coils through his glasses…

The throbbing and humming in Mr. Barnstaple’s ears grew rapidly louder and rose acutely to an extreme intensity. Suddenly great
flashes of violet light leapt across from coil to coil, passing through Quarantine Castle as though it was not there.

For a moment longer it was there.

The flag flared out madly and was torn from its staff. Mr. Burleigh lost his hat. A half length of Mr. Catskill became visible
struggling with his coat tails which had blown up and enveloped his head. At the same time Mr. Barnstaple saw the castle rotating upon
the lower part of the crag, exactly as though some invisible giant had seized the upper tenth of the headland and was twisting it
round.

And then it vanished.

The imperial  adventure is over.  At the end  of the  novel the Utopians succeed in returning Mr Barnstaple to his own world, and he returns home, wiser and more thoughtful,  where his wife notices that he has grown several inches taller.

She looked up into his eyes. As though she was very glad indeed to have him back with her.

But Mr. Barnstaple remained lost in thought. “It must be the extreme freshness of the air. I have been in some wonderful air….
Wonderful!… But at my age! To have grown! And I _feel_ as though I’d grown, inside and out, mind and body.”…

Mrs. Barnstaple presently began to put the tea-things together for removal.

“You seem to have avoided the big towns.”

“I did.”

“And kept to the country roads and lanes.”

“Practically…. It was all new country to me…. Beautiful….
Wonderful….”

His wife still watched him.

“You must take me_there some day,” she said. “I can see that it has done you a world of good.”

The problem with Utopian novels is that  they are little more guidebooks to an imagined future, and thus  barely function as novels at all, making them quite dull.  Men like Gods  has a little more incident  than most, which is not saying  a great deal.  It’s an unfortunate truth that dystopian novels are usually much more readable eg  Wells’ earlier novel The Sleeper Awakes.  Apparently Aldous Huxley was moved to write Brave New  World  (1932) after reading Men Like Gods, writing to a friend, “I am writing a novel about the future — on the horror of the Wellsian Utopia and a revolt against it. Very difficult. I have hardly enough imagination to deal with such a subject. But it is none the less interesting work.”

In its very enthusastic  review of Men Like Gods  the Manchester Guardian said:

The charm and absorbingness of this novel may be taken for granted. It is most remarkable. No other writer could have achieved a smilar triumph. Mr Wells has always been able to see clearly and with beauty into a  highly sanitary ideal world. He can do this because  of  his really passionate love of human-kind  and desire for the betterment  of its lot. His hatred of contemporary squalors, of the system of greed and squalor and sprawling ineffectiveness  which  makes the world a sprawling mess, is so intense that to  Mr Wells restless and reforming spirit passive endurance is impossible. He must attack and destroy and rebuild – the process being one continuous movement  of his immense vital energy….The author’s passion for education, for knowledge and health have never been more brilliantly expressed. ..It is full of fine thinking and fine understanding. 

You can read Men like Gods  online here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagining a Socialist Utopia in Manchester : The Sorcery Shop, an impossible romance by Robert Blatchford (1907)

the Sorcery shop

In The Sorcery Shop Robert Blatchford attempts to describe what a Socialist  utopia might look like, imagining  the   grimy,  smoke-clogged  city of Manchester, which he knew very well, transformed  a sunlit  city of  flowers, fountains  and crystal towers. It is of a piece,  therefore,  with other socialist  utopian novels of the period,  including Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888), William Morris’ News from Nowhere (1890),  H G Wells’ A Modern Utopia (1905)  and Men Like Gods (1923),  and Charlote Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915)

Robert Blatchford

Robert Blatchford and his friends were the  founders  in 1891 of the Clarion newspaper:  the most influential Socialist newspaper ever published in Britain,  which  created thousands of Socialists and inspired  a whole social movement.

Blatchford was born in Maidstone in 1851. He came from a theatrical family, his father John  being  a comedian and his mother Georgina an actress.  He had little schooling and was largely self-educated, spending his time reading during regular bouts of childhood illness. The family eventually settled in Halifax where Robert was apprenticed as a brushmaker. He did not go into the trade, however, instead leaving the town in  1871 and joining the army where he rose to the rank of Sergeant major.

After leaving the army he got a job as a storeman  with the Weaver Navigation Company in Northwich and  began writing short stories in his spare time which eventually  led to him  writing a column for a newspaper in Leeds. This  led him  into full-time journalism, first in London and then in Manchester where he worked for Edward Hulton, writing for the Sunday Chronicle under the penname Nunquam (Nunquam Dormio – I do not sleep.) His salary was now an astonishing £1,000 a year.

Increasingly he  wrote about slum conditions in Manchester and was taken around some of the worst cellars in Hulme and Ancoats by a local Socialist, Joe Waddington. Blatchford finally became a Socialist  after reading A summary of the Principles of Socialism, written by Henry Hyndman and William Morris, sent to him by a reader.  He   was not a theoritician  but came to Socialism because he saw it as  a practical solution to the poverty and misery he had personally witnessed.  He later  wrote, somewhat self importantly:

I have never read a page of Marx. I got the idea of collective ownership from H.M. Hyndman; the rest of my Socialism I thought out myself. English Socialism is not German: it is English. English Socialism is not Marxian; It is humanitarian. It does not depend upon any Clarion May Daytheory of “economic justice” but upon humanity and common sense.

Hulton would not let  him write about Socialism in the Morning Chronicle  so Blatchford walked out of his job and set up The Clarion, along with  his brother Montague and his friends Alex Thompson, Edward Fay and Robert Suthers. It was a huge gamble but, fortunately for them,  many of Blatchford’s  readers followed him  to the new venture  and The Clarion  soon became  a welcome weekly visitor  to thousands of  households and attracted a fierce loyalty from its readers. The Clarion was never a dry as dust theoretical  journal,  but a jovial mix of news, comment, short stories, songs and  poetry.   As George R Taylor put in his book Leaders Of Socialism, Past and Present, published in 1910:

…..Robert Blatchford…..can manufacture Socialist more quickly then anyone else. Tipton Limited sells more tea than any other firm, Bever sells more soap;  one factory makes more boots; another most chairs. Mr Blatchford and The Clarion make more Socialists than any rival establishment.

 

The Sorcery Shop

The Clarion always  carried poems, short stories and extracts from novels, many of them written by Blatchford.  He was inspired by William Morris’s News From Nowhere to write his own utopian novel  The  Sorcery Shop:  An impossible Romance, published in 1907.  Blatchford says in his introduction:

It is only reasonable  to suppose that in a wisely-ordered commonwealth the best energies of a highly-trained and intelligent people would be directed towards the improvement all the conditions of national , civic and domestic life; but I have left all that to the imagination of the reader, and have tried to show the possibility of organising and carrying on a prosperous and healthy commune without calling in  any other  mechanical aids  than those  of which we are already the masters…Poverty, crime, disease, war , drunkenness, and ignorance are all preventable evils. Were it not for the ignorance of the many, and the foolish greed and vanity of the few, we might have a happy, healthy, and beautiful England now.

 The book begins in  the Directorate Club in London, where  we meet Major-General Sir Frederick Manningtree Storm, Tory MP for South Loomshire, and  Mr Samuel Jorkle, Liberal MP, for Shantytown East.  In an argument about Socialism they meet a  third man, a stranger named  Nathaniel Fry, a magician in fact   who spirits them away to a Socialist England using a Crystal Car.  “And now gentleman, we are in an impossible country, inhabited by impossible things, and are impossibly happy. I hope you will be amused. Allow me to open the door.” They land in a great, green wood and make their way to a vantage point looking down on a plain:

It was an orchard plain, a plain of flowering trees, in the midst of which was built a city. The roofs and towers and gables of the town stood up like red and white islands out of a broad sea of blossoms…They saw red roofs glowing amid the billows of delicate pink and white.  They saw the domes and towers of marble palaces, and the graceful shaft of a tall campanile with a gleaming golden crown. They heard the rhythmic hurry of a carillon, sounding wonderfully from some distant belfry, and the throbbing and champing music of a marching band, afar off in the hidden streets...Well, gentleman” said the wizard…”this is Manchester. He waved his hand towards the flowery plain, ”this city of health and beauty, of happy homes, and noble palaces, of trees and flowers, this Paradise regained, is Manchester – Manchester under impossible conditions”. 

 road with flowersThey pass Hulme Town Hall, now “a marble place with high towers” and make their way into the city along Chester Road. The wizard tells them:

 You will observe it is wide road, with broad band of well-kept grass along each side, nearest the gardens.  You will observe that the houses are very handsome and homely, and are all detached and homely, each standing in its own garden. There are no walls nor hedges between these gardens and the road. As a matter of fact, there is not a lock nor a fastening in all Manchester.

city with towersThey enter Fountain Square:

The great square presented an animated picture of rich colour, and noble form, and eager, happy, human life. The place was a garden: a garden of green lawns, and bright spring flowers, and sparkling fountains, and stately trees – a garden surrounded by marble palaces, and canopied by a blue and smokeless sky. Here the people – the beautiful, brave, impossible people – gathered in their thousands – walking, lounging, laughing, talking, as though the square were occupied by troops of friends

 

Women

The wizard explains how the position of women  has changed:

Here if a husband leaves his wife he finds it very difficult  to find another .the women here are very proud, their ideal of purity is very high, and they are completely independent. No woman here marries for bread. No woman dreads a future of solitary indigence. There is no poverty in this country. Every wife is economically independent of her husband. …The maidens here set their entreatments at a higher rate than a demand to parley. They are free. They are men’s  equals…. I tell you and mark it well , that in this country there is no such thing  as an untaught, poor or degraded woman; there is no such thing as a courtesan; there is no such thing as the sale and barter of women’s ’s flesh and women’s honour; there is not a woman tramp, beggar, or slave; there is not a woman destitute of home, of hope, of love. 

 Children

Children are seen as the responsibility of the whole community:

The children can find homes in a hundred households. They can take food anywhere. Every house is open, every table free to them, and, still more happily, every heart is open to them also.  No child here is denied food, no child is denied instruction, no child is denied love.

There are no schools in this society, children are taught at home by the women. There is  no distinction between the sexes:

 Nearly every child is taught to draw, to model, or to carve, or to do all those things; and every child is taught to sing, and to dance and draw  and carve, and can read and write the universal language, as well as English, before they are in their teens. They pick up other things as well; botany, astronomy, geography,  gardening – many things…the children, boys and girls, all swim, and row, and play at cricket and many other games

Work

Nobody works more than 3 or 4 hours a day,  and then after pursue other endeavours such as painting or writing. Everybody is paid the same.

Recreation

What do the masses in our towns ever see of Nature? What do the labourers in our villages ever see of art or hear of music? in our England the great bulk of the people  have no artistic nor intellectuals pleasures. Have you ever been to the average village concert?  Have you ever been to the cheap popular music-halls and theatres? Have you ever studied the cheap popular fiction?  With these people , in this new England, life itself is beautiful. 

 Evolution Not  Revolution.

Blatchford is quite vague about  how this “new England , as he calls it, came into being, but it appears not to have been a revolution. In one passage he appears to indicate that it was result of municipalisation.

You have seen the gas, trams, and waterworks pass from private hands into the control of the municipalities without bloodshed.  Why should there be bloodshed over the cotton mills and soap factories… And it is evident that such co-operation must always beat private competition, for two reasons; the first reason is that the muncipality can produce more cheaply; the second reason is that no private form can afford to trade without making some profit, whereas the municipality can do without any profit at all… The wizard blew a smoke ring and smiled. “I do not defend robbery”,  he said, “I defend the recovery  of stolen property. Socialism is not a thief, it is a policeman.

At the end of the book the two MPs are returned to present-day London where, looking through a window,  see  the unemployed march past.

They were, for the mUnemployed Leicester 1905ost part, the ill-clothed, rough-spun men of the labouring class, with here and there a better-dressed artisan. Their boots were down at heel, their hands were coarse, their faces grimy and weather-beaten. They tramped on silently, looking straight before them, or on the ground. They seemed dull and dispirited, but not angry or ashamed. With a strange stolidity of endurance, worthy of Oriental fatalists, they trudged along upon their hungry march through the wealth and ostentation of the indifferent West .

Reviews

A Neil Lyons in his book  Robert  Blatchford, The sketch of a personality, An estimate of some achievements,  published in 1910,  say that this is the least successful of Blatchford’s novels

No man has yet succeeded in inventing a satisfactory Utopia and Mr Blatchford, perhaps, has come as near to doing so as anybody else. But – John’s utopia never fits Jim. Mr Blatchford , in this picture of the Ideal State, has seen fit to deprive us of our wine and tobacco. Mr Blatchford expects too much from his fellow-man – especially from his fellow craftsman – when he asks him to consider seriously ideals which eliminate wine and tobacco.

Make your own mind up

You can read The Sorcery Shop online here

 

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