H.G. Wells: Tono Bungay



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Only halfway through this one but am loving it once again a white male british protagonist must read women writers soon but the protagonistauthor is incredible with writing descriptive detail a great social commentary on class systems industrialization in london xploitation of the masses through marketingadvertising And Bid Him Sing etc and an incredible vocabulary builder SO many words i didn t know but so well used i can discern their meaning contextuallyupdate as with most satire i got the point and started to get bored with it but that was well into the novel i may lack patience reviewsmetaphorosiscom 35 starsGeorge isxpelled from the manor his mother serves in and bounces around until he lands with his uncle a chemist He departs again but returns once his uncle develops a successful line of snake oil Despite his ualms George a talented Aristotle Detective (Aristotle engineer helps out with sales and development and their fortunes growI first read this many years and liked it though I also misremembered it as having something to do with a potion that caused floating which seems to be a conflation of Mary Poppins and a short story whose titlevades me In fact it s a novel of social commentary and critiue of English life lightly wrapped in adventure and romanceThe introduction to my paperback Bones, Clones, and Biomes edition says that George sarly life is closely based on author Herbert George s and he does seem to know the material well The first section of the book is a sharp analysis of a system of social classes and habits largely decrepit and outdated It s keenly observed and it seems credible that Wells is speaking from Bringing the Empire Home experienceThe novel largely follows George as he wanders on the fringes of his uncle s ventures helpful but disdainful and often disinterested It recounts his distraction from study and work his failures in love and the partial waste of a natural talent forngineering It s all wrapped in social critiue with comments on the class system socialism politics conomics and other topicsAll that sounds dull but it s not As I re discovered when reading Ann Veronica a mainstream novel that immediately followed Tono Bungay Wells was an xcellent writer with a fine sense for character and an ability to convey his social opinion without overburdening his narrative The purpose of Tono Bungay is clearly to Building the Cold War express concern about England s direction but that doesn t stop it from being a very successful novel as wellThending of the novel is an interesting mix Our hero comes through bruised but whole but the future of the country seems less bright The result is a sad and lonely feeling but not Canadian Art, Volume 1 (A-F) entirely without hopeUnlike Ann Veronica the women in this book are two dimensional In fact pretty much the only full characters are George and his uncle but it works despite that George s aunt Susan is a key figure who nonetheless gets short shrift There s a brief mention at thend that deserved a lot space and I was disappointed that Wells didn t make of her and her relationship with George Instead she s played mostly for comic relief and I got the feeling that Wells considered but then abandoned a larger role for her I wish he had followed through she deserved time and it would have added an interesting Counter-Amores element to George s personal lifeOverall a very readable interesting novel that deserves attention I d first heard of TONO BUNGAY when recently reading a biography of F Scott Fitzgerald Apparently this book by HG Wells was one of his favorite books HG Wells you mean THE WAR OF THE WORLDS and THE TIME MACHINE HG Wells Yes that s the one While I Maybe the best HG Wells incursion outside his mother ship of science fiction Tono Bungay is the tale of a useless and addictive medicine Dancing at Armageddon embellished by anarly form of marketing However behind the major plot it hides an interesting criticism of a capitalist society where Double Jeopardy everyone works and lives without a purposespecially the upper class Although it turned out to be very different from what I imagined focusing much on At times I almost really liked this book for its criticism of consumer capitalism for a book published in 1909 T B feels ahead of its time in this respect and the realness of some of the characters but I got fed up with the narratorauthor constantly Composition and Literature explaining his own symbolism not to mention This is my first Wells I was a bit turned off by the description which suggests most of the plot revolves around the development of a uack medicine the strangely named Tono Bungay That s a chunk of it but there are other chunks it s also a very well done Bildungsroman in which the protagonist and first person narrator George grows up as the son of the housekeeper of annormous country house acutely conscious of his lower class status observing the banal conversations among the aristocrats sneaking into the large library to read books as Wells did himself when his mother was housekeeper at Upparkand falling in love three times twice to the same person George s relationships with women are interesting and he is introspective to a point He knows what he wants in a woman but he has no idea of what s good for him or what will work He realizes with insight what he gets from Beatrice his first and last love the daughter of a viscount an audienceI began to live for the Cezanne and Provence effect I imagined I made upon her to make that very soon the principal value in my life I played to her I did things for the look of them I began to dream and of beautiful situations and fine poses and groupings with her and for her It certainly robbed my. And as I went along thembankment the first ffect was all against my uncle He shrank for

Work of high patience and uality I cut down the toil of research in my agerness and her Contested Reproduction eagerness for fine flourishes in the air flights that would tellAnd it robbed me too of any fine perception of absurdity Wells s teenage drapery apprenticeship comes in handy as George describes all the hideous ways fabrics aremployed in various lower middle class and parvenu Victorian drawing rooms and salonsPlopped into the story of the Tono Bungay business and George and his uncle and aunt s resulting upward mobility is a strange side trip to an island off the coast of West Africa where George has been persuaded by a shadowy figure who can t make the trip himself to invest in a cargo of uap lying on the beach No one aboard is happy about loading up the uap which becomes understandable when it turns out to be radioactive and it sinks the ship Before this happens George surprises a native in the forest and kills him This pisode feels like something out of H Rider Haggard The Guardian thinks this is a comedy I would classify it as something slightly arnest although it certainly has its comic momentsShe walked across to the piano took a pile of music from the cabinet near surveyed Lady Osprey s back and with a gesture to me dropped it all deliberately on to the floorMust talk she said kneeling close to me as I helped her to pick it up Turn my pages At the pianoI can t read musicTurn my pagesPresently we were at the piano and Beatrice was playing with noisy inaccuracy At the back of the house is a garden a door in the wall on the lane UnderstandI turned over the pages without any Creating Country Music effect on her playing I can t play tonight she said standing up and meeting myyes I wanted to give you a parting voluntaryWas that Wagner Beatrice asked Lady Osprey looking up from her cards It sounded very confused The cover art is John Singer Sargent s 1898 portrait of Asher Wertheimer an art dealer who was Sargent s good friend He also painted Blacklands eleven other portraits of the Wertheimer family At first you might think this man represents the protagonist George or his uncle Edward Instead he seems to represent some of thextremely rich Jewish parvenus mentioned in the novel for Evolutionary Patterns example the Sir Reuben Lichtenstein who rents the fictional Bladesover House which is based on Uppark in the photo above after its owner Lady Drew dies There are various small anti Semitic bits scattered throughout as when George s Aunt Susan critiues some of the Oriental ladies she has socialized with and George remembers wandering one day in London finding a shabbily bright foreign uarter shops displaying Hebrew placards and weird unfamiliar commodities and a concourse of brightyed Evolution As Entropy eagle nosed people talking some incomprehensible gibberish between the shops and the barrows And soon I became uite familiar with the devious vicious dirtily pleasantxoticism of Soho Men like Sir Reuben were not so much a new British gentry as pseudomorphous after the gentry They are a very clever people the Jews but not clever Forging Gay Identities enough to suppress their cleverness There s also a sailor who refers to a Roumanian Jew as a Dago The portrait must have been chosen by thisdition s ditor who specializes in literary representations of JewsFinally a little side hobby I have when reading the classics is documenting the uses of nigger There are two here Uncle Edward Ponderevo the creator of Tono Bungay asks George to help him in the company Come in and stiffen these niggers Teach them that wo oo oo oo osh These company workers he s referring to are mostly likely white as there weren t many nonwhites in England at the time And after George has spent weeks supervising the loading of uap on Mordet Island I understand now the heart of the sweater of the harsh mployer of the nigger driver Tono Bungay is a novel written by H G Wells and published in 1909 It has been called arguably his most artistic book As for Wells himself he considered Tono Bungay as the finest and most finished novel upon the accepted lines that he had written or was ver likely to write While reading the novel I also read a biography of Wells and found many interesting things about the authorAlthough Wells was a prolific writer in many genres including the novel history p This is Wells writing stylistically like Dickens in a mode of novel writing that aims at the nineteenth century version of social justice ven though it was published at the Esteem Enlivened by Desire end of the first decade of the twentieth centuryToday he is mainly remembered for his science fiction Tono Bungay is an unusual work in that it straddles two of these genres it is both science fiction and social commentary The novel follows the rise and fall of anmpire built on a uack medicine The medicine Tono Bungay gives the book its title Regardless of what it stands for it is clear that Tono Bungay is not Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith entirely good for you and probably harmful in the long run The short termffects are however sufficiently pleasing so as to make a fortune for its inventor The novel is narrated by a young man George Ponderevo who while not as appealing as the best of Dickens heroes has a certain charm His rise along with that of his Uncle Teddy is chronicled with wit and an ar for the details of turn of the century commerce that make the book rewarding to the interested reader Wells was able to write deeper and had a greater pallette than those who may have only read his arly science romances might imagine However Wells does add instances of science fiction ven in this novel and ofte. Little while he continued to shrink in perspective until he was only a very small shabby li.

N they are only remotely related to the main topic Such is the case for the various xperiments in air travel which make up a substantial part of the book Yet another science fiction The Heritage of Arabo-Islamic Learning episode concerns a mysterious ore which appears to be radioactive Ostensibly the purpose of this ore is to provide Tono Bungay a new infusion and lease on life Radioactivity had only recently been discovered when Wells wrote this novel and indeed was very mysterious Wells treats the radioactive ore as something that fundamentally corrupts all that it touchesThe result is an unusual book that as a whole is better than most of Wells many works of science fiction I have read a number of HG Wells sarly sci fi novels This is the first time I have read one of his other novels and I am surprised to see that it is by far his best work Tono Bungay is a bildungsroman about growing up poor in Victorian England and making one s way in the world by a combination of luck good and badThe good luck is hero George Ponderevo s association with his uncle Edward the inventor of a nostrum called Tono Bungay He brings his nephew George in with him and becomes a fantastically rich financier until until the whole thing comes undone The bad luck consists of George s three attempts at love He marries but it Hereward (Hereward, ends in a kind of listless divorce Then there is a bright affair with a secretary but that goes nowhere Finally there is Beatrice Normandy whom George knew from his childhood Unfortunately she had made her accommodation in a lazy ongoing relationship with an English lordThere are times when the novel seems to lose its way as if Wells was not used to writing a 400 page novel but he keeps coming backDon t imagine that I am coming presently to any sort of solution of my difficulties Here among my drawings and hammerings NOW I still uestion unanswering problems All my life has been at bottom SEEKING disbelieving always dissatisfied always with the thing seen and the thing believed seeking something in toil in force in danger something whose name and nature I do not clearly understand something beautiful worshipfulnduring mine profoundly and fundamentally and the utter redemption of myself I don t know all I can tell is that it is something I have ver failed to find I will continue to read of Wells s sci fi novels but I think I will also check out Kipps and The History of Mr Polly Tono Bungay is a story of the English class system social s and social climbing More specifically it is a story of capitalism the advertising industry and the generation of income creation of wealth based on the sale and promotion of pointless ineffective products that the buying public never knew they needed until they were actually told that they apparently did The novel xplores the moral dilemmas intrinsic to this process and looks at the very thin line between advertising creative marketing and fraudIt is against this backdrop that Tono Bungay follows the motional life and development of main protagonist George Ponderevo his various relationships and their associated challenges It looks at George s disillusionment with religion and the moral uestions thrown up by the business opportunities offered to him throughout Along with his ntertaining aeronautical adventures and Groom and Doom endeavours the parts of Tono Bungay concentrating on George s relationships are for me the most convincing and compelling parts of the novelWhere Tono Bungay works less well is as political social satire an attempt that for me isn t uite as successful as perhaps it could be The metaphors hereg village Eroarea lui Descartes estate London voyage down the Thames as microcosms of society lifetc are Murder at the Savoy (Martin Beck, either too obvious blunt or just don t work as well as they should do Where the novel is successful is as a critiue and deconstruction of capitalism and the free marketconomy Tono Bungay looks at the deceptions of the advertising industry the wealth conseuently generated and the discomfort of George Ponderevo with that underlying premise Wells looks at society as seemingly built almost ntirely on this basis and the resultant disparities and ineualities in wealth To some xtent it is here where the novel is most revealing Gabe Izzy enlightening and thought provokingWhilst it is appreciated that forxample The History of Mr Polly and Kipps The Story of a Simple Sole are Nigella Bijt entertainment less serious and satirical in nature than Tono Bungay it just doesn t work as well asither of those two novels likewise with Wells classic science fiction novels Tono Bungay doesn t ngage compel or convince in the same way and doesn t have the same sense of authenticityUndoubtedly there are some powerful messages contained here in Tono Bungay seemingly none of this is real this presumably being a society being run on a capitalist wealth based system with all its intrinsic ineualities and that in life we should be looking for truth the heart of life and what Wells character refers to as reality science Wells talks in this novel of the voyage of life and about becoming trapped and restrained in life by the meaningless distractions contrived processes relationships falsehoods false premises with the deceptions inherent in a society based on capitalist free market conomy but isn t ultimately clear on what the answer or alternative would be Tono Bungay has been referred to as Wells most artistic novel which indeed it may well be But for me despite some xcellent sections and passages in this novel it is ultimately somehow less than the sum of its part. Ttle man in a dirty back street sending off a few hundred bottles of rubbish to foolish buye.

Thomas Henry Huxley at the Normal School of Science Wells earned his bachelor of science and doctor of science degrees at the University of London After marrying his cousin Isabel Wells began to supplement his teaching salary with short stories and freelance articles then books including The Time Machine 1895 The Island of Dr Moreau 1896 The Invisible Man 1897 and The War of the Worlds 1898Wells created a mild scandal when he divorced his cousin to marry one of his best students Amy Catherine Robbins Although his second marriage was lasting and produced two sons Wells was an unabashed advocate of free as opposed to indiscriminate love He continued to openly have extra marital liaisons most famously with