H. G. Wells

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Student Question

In which H.G. Wells' book does the quote "I would as soon think of cooling my throat with the Milky Way or shaking hands with the stars!" appear?

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This quote appears in Wells's Secret Places of the Heart.

This autobiographical novel features Sir Richmond Hardy, an English gentleman who is having marital problems and traveling the countryside. In this quote he is having a conversation with his friend Dr. Martineau, a doctor who specializes in mental health issues or, as the novel puts it, "nervous and mental cases."

In this conversation, Sir Richmond vehemently rejects the idea of a personal God. He can accept the idea of a force of Righteousness in the universe but he can't envision it as merciful, warm, or friendly. He calls it a "dream" and a "delusion" to think humans can get close to what we call God.

Sir Richmond says with astonishment that he can't imagine the God of the universe consoling a mere mortal like him. He compares this in the above quote to cooling his throat with the Milky Way or shaking hands with the stars. In other words, he is far too small and God is far too great for the two of them to have any intimacy.

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