Date of Award

12-2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Professor Alan Grubb

Abstract

George Orwell and H. G. Wells, both of whom have been dead now for nearly six decades, remain among the most popular and widely read authors in twentieth century English literature. At the same time, both men have become the foci of scholarly industries devoted to their life, thought, and work. Despite the fact that Orwell and Wells shared a number of significant literary, political, and even personal connections, relatively few Orwell or Wells scholars have bothered to examine them. As a result of this scholarly inattention, the nature and significance of Orwell's relationship with Wells have long been obscured and underappreciated. Redressing this scholarly shortcoming is the primary objective of this thesis.

Much of what Orwell wrote and argued was filtered through the lens of his appreciation for Wells's thought and work. Orwell, who described himself as "Wells's own creation," even modeled much of his own literary career upon that of Wells. At the same time, Orwell became an outspoken critic of Wells's eschatological, utopian worldview. For instance, Orwell's final novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, emulated Wells's Edwardian utopian novels even as it mocked the very ideals that Wells had long regarded as the apotheosis of his life's work.

Ultimately, the relationship between Orwell and Wells hinges upon "a sort of parricide," to use Orwell's phrase for his attack upon a number of key Wellsian ideas and ideals. This being said, Orwell's parricide was not as simple as the toppling of a childhood idol, nor was it in any way indicative of a complete break with his Wellsian heritage. This thesis examines the nuances of this ambivalent, conflicted process.

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