Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Slip Under the Miscroscope - H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells writes two wonderful stories 'A Door in the Wall' and ' A Slip under the Microscope' in this Penguin classic.

In 'A Door in the Wall' we have this aristocrat and a successful person who is haunted by a vision of a door (imaginary it appears) that he accesses as a child. The door opens into a wonderful life on the other side and he actually walks in and glimpses it once. As he goes deeper into his real and successful life, he does happen upon that door once or twice but is always too busy to go and explore it again despite wanting to. He talks about that door and about how he regretted not entering it when he could have and how he feels he has lost his chance to access that wonderful world. His friend to whom he narrates the story finds him dead soon after telling the story of the door, caught in a door like structure, perhaps trying to access a world he wanted to and escape the one he is trapped in. It could well be the dilemma a lot of us have.

In 'A Slip under the Miscroscope' we have the son of a cobbler who lives life correctly and who is an ace student at a prestigious college. The boy makes an inadvertent error of glimpsing what the other brains in the class, a aristocratic lass, had done, in a completely unintentional act. He tops again as usual and she comes in a close second. And though the result might not have been impacted because he saw what he was not supposed to see, he struggles with his conscience, and approaches the department head. Instead of merely taking the results of that experiment out, the head suspends the lad for having confessed to this error in judgment. When he leaves, the brainy girl who now tops the class, says he is after all the son of a cobbler and much cannot be expected of him. Conscience one would think, is the preserve of the poor and weak, and helps them stay where they are. If there is one thing to learn - don't listen to your conscience, flow with what life offers you and mostly, keep your mouth shut. A bit like what Salman Khan did and so many others before him.

Nice stuff and very different writing style. H. G. Wells was an interesting person who wrote 100 books (I'd love to aspire for that number), married twice, was an avid proponent of free love which he practiced by having extra marital affairs (which is probably why he writes about conscience - my theory is that we write or try most to be what we are most bothered about). The great quality of his writing is that I found the style rather winding and convoluted (needs concentration) but the story and its sub-text remains quite clear when you want to access it. I think its a wonderful quality for any writer to have - that the story and most importantly the questions it asks remain clearly.

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