A new faith was steel needed - and G.B. Shaw and H.G. Wells found one in what may be called Liberalism - the belief that man s future lies on earth, not in heaven, and that, with scientific and social progress, and earthly paradise may eventually be truth.
Wells is one of the great figures of modern literature. In some books /Kipps, The History of Mr. Polly/ he borrows Dickens s prose-style, his homour and his love for eccentric novels. The Time Machine, The First Man in the Moon, The War of the Worlds.. all seemed concerned not merely with telling a strange and entertaining story but with showing that, in science, everything is theoretically possible. Wells once described himself as a "Utopiagrapher". He was always planning worlds in which science had achieved its last victories over religion and superstition. -his books were filled with skyscrapers and aircraft. he destroyed class-distinction and introduced directionaless education, enlightened politicians, economic equality - he together with Shaw wanted a kind of Socialism. They both believed that man s mistakes and crimes came from stupidity or from an unfavourable environment. Wells was a prolific author /=producing many books/ and when he kept to a story, it was always an interesting one. His preaching is now a little out of date, and his hope for the future was rudely shattered by the second world war. Optimistic Liberalsim died with him.
John Galsworthy is best known for his Forsyte Saga, a series of six novels which trace the story of a typically English upper-class family from Victorian days to the nineteen-twenties - presenting their reaction to great events including World War I, the growth of Socialism and social unrest. He is trying to view this dying class dispassionatly - with occasional irony - nevertheless seems to develop a sympathy for the hero, Soames Forsyte. Galsworthy slowly becomes involved and what starts off as a work of criticism ends in acceptance of the very principles it attacks. This work is still widely read, though it is not greatly esteemed by the modern critics. The twentieth century has been much concerned with finding something to believe in - it has that in common with the last 20 years of the Victorian era. But whereas the first of our moderns were satisfied deeper - it has wanted the sense of continuous tradition, the sense of being involved in a civilisation. Galsworthy s world is a dying one.
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Coming of The Modern Age II
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