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The Dream by H. G. Wells
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The Dream (1924)

by H. G. Wells

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At the most basic level this is the story of a race of people living over two thousand years in the future. They live perfect and untroubled lives in supreme harmony. One of these beings,known as Sarnac, tells a group of his companions of his dream. Although this dream was contained within the space of a normal night span,it covered a whole life in the dream itself. He tells the group that in his dream he was living two thousand years ago as Harry Mortimer Smith. He describes the life of his other self from childhood to death in great detail for them. In fact the main body of the story takes place in the world just before the Great War of 1914-1918.
Wells cleverly combines social comment with fantastic storytelling in this largely forgotten and underrated book. ( )
  devenish | Jan 16, 2013 |
The Dream begins with a group of tourists, 2000 years in the future. The group spends a day visiting the archaeological site of a tragedy which happened during the last great war before the time of enlightenment. In this Utopian future, humanity has evolved beyond the brutish, warlike, repressed beings we are today and the group is profoundly confused and disturbed by what they see at the site. They spend some time discussing what might have motivated pre-enlightened man. A member of the party, Sarnac, falls asleep and has a profound, realistic dream...

He dreams the entire life of Harry Mortimer Smith. The novel primarily takes place in Harry's story which details his life in Britain from childhood to his violent death, just after WWI. The story examines the mistreatment of women, the effect of drinking/gambling on family, the plight of single women, mankind's passions and cruelties, class injustice, and other topics. Most notable in all the views expressed is the repeated advocation of birth control and one mention of abortion.

I found the book very readable and really enjoyed it. It is very typical of a Wells book, however, in that he gives rather a lot of detail and tends to go off on mini-essays/rants about certain topics. Luckily, I found these thoroughly enjoyable... I especially liked his several page description of when the young Harry first encounters London and is exploring the city. A particularly gorgeous quote I jotted down was, "[The city had] a certain changing and evanescent beauty." Other enjoyable "essays" were regarding the publishing industry of the time (specifically mentions Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as other names of the day) and in the final chapters, a detailed discussion about the origins and nature of dreams.

I think my favorite part of the book was the early section about the Utopian group visiting the archaeological site and the discussion after... It was skillfully written and very effectively drew me into the change of paradigm Wells was attempting. As someone who is very interested in archeology and ancient history, I found it fascinating to view things from an entirely different angle and see my world as an ancient artifact - What will people think of *my* world, thousands of years from now when they dig it out of the earth?

While there is definitely a plot to Harry's story, it's main purpose is to examine the day-to-day struggles/issues of the average man in a dark and brutal time - Some might find that a bit pointless and dragging at times. It is, however, one of the most reader-friendly and engaging Wells novels I've read, so it was quick going. If you enjoyed Marriage or In the Days of the Comet, I think you would like this one too.

-----o)0(o-----

Random quotes that tickled me:

[Sarnac is relaying his dream to the group] "Most days she cooked a dinner. She cooked it...It was cooking!" Sarnac paused - his brows knit. "Cooking! Well, well. That's over, anyhow." he said.

I will not say [he was] "dishonest", but "spasmodically acquisitive".

-----o)0(o-----

Discuss at: http://agentxpndble.livejournal.com/199210.html ( )
1 vote SimPenguin | Jun 4, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0766170314, Paperback)

1924. Contents: the excursion; beginning of the dream; misfortunes come upon the Smith family; Widow Smith moves to London; Fanny discovers herself; marriage in war time; love and death; epilogue.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:24 -0400)

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