Is this the Springtime for the End of the World?

Thomas Bertonneau writes at The Brussels Journal on a subject peculiarly suited to this cultural moment: the end of the world. Or rather the end of the world as it was treated in the fictional and non-fictional works of H.G. Wells:

The End of the World typically presents itself in a literalist manner, with the physical obliteration of the globe and humanity. The antecedents in this case go as far back as the first half of the Nineteenth Century, especially to the American writer Edgar Allan Poe….

The greatest interest of the End of the World in fiction comes, in fact, not from the cosmic, but rather from the sociological, political, and civilizational variants of the trope. A world-obliterating impact leaves no survivors and ceases to be pathetic in the instant when it occurs; but social, political, and civilizational catastrophes reserve a few survivors, who attest to their experience and add, perhaps, to humanity’s small store of wisdom. None was better at this type of End-of-the-World story than Herbert George Wells. He made an early success of such a tale in The Time Machine (1895) and his very last book, The Mind at the End of its Tether (1946), is the oddest and most disturbing End-of-the-World story of all, except that Wells insists that it is the not a story but the apocalyptic truth.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 13, 2011 05:18 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):