H. G. Wells Short Fiction Analysis
By the 1890’s, the golden age of the English short story had begun. Edgar Allan Poe and his theory that every story should strive for a single effect had become a pattern for imitation. Rudyard Kipling’s stories of Indian life were opening a new and exotic dimension to readers worldwide. A flourishing discipleship of Guy de Maupassant, later to be led by W. Somerset Maugham, had come into existence on the English side of the channel. Wells’s range is narrower than Kipling’s, only rarely does Wells achieve macabre effects anywhere near Poe’s, and he is incapable of the irony underlying the deceptively anecdotal stories of the French master Maupassant. However, from these three H. G. Wells learned the technique of the short story. “I was doing my best to write as the others wrote,” Wells acknowledged, “and it was long before I realized that my exceptional origins and training gave me an almost unavoidable freshness of approach.”
Often a story “starts as a joke,” Wells observed in retrospect. “There is a shock of laughter in nearly every discovery.” H. E. Bates, himself a master of short fiction, was one of the first to see the twinkle in the storyteller’s eye. He praises Wells asa great Kidder, a man who succeeded in telling more tall stories than any writer of his generation yet, by a genius for binding the commonplace to some astounding exploration of fancy, succeeded in getting them believed.
A close friend, the...
(The entire section is 1517 words.)
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