The influence of science on the thought of H.G. Wells.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:00 by R. D. (Roslynn D) Haynes
In an attempt to assess the influence of Wells's scientific background on his work and the originality of his contribution to literature this thesis presents first a survey of earlier literature dealing with the concepts of science, utopias, journeys in space and time, and the figure of the scientist. It is concluded that these predecessors had relatively little influence on Wells's work. His own background in science is examined and an assessment made of the scientific validity of his thinking. There follows a discussion of Wells's pre-occupation with the role of science in society - science and technology, science and government, waste and disorder - and in the life of the individual - free-will and predestination as understood in science, and the mythic and mystical elements of science. The influence of science on Wells's approach to characterization is considered - his concept of the individual, his awareness of psychology as a science and his development of the figure of the scientist as a literary character. Finally some analysis is made of Wells's techniques of presenting a scientific dimension in his work and rendering it credible and interesting to a reading public largely ignorant of scientific method and the progress of science. This leads to a discussion of Wells's concept of Art and his debate with Henry James about the role of the novel. Wells's most significant contributions to literature are seen to be his 'discovery of the future', his expansion of the scope the novel to include the concerns of science and the figure of the scientist, and his role as an integrator of several apparently diverse disciplines and interests.