Experiment in Autobiography


Experiment in Autobiography is an autobiographical work by H.G. Wells, originally published in two volumes. He began to write it in 1932, and completed it in the summer of 1934. Experiment in Autobiography is divided into eight "chapters" (the last two of which are more than 100 pages long) which are divided in toto into 56 sections. Some sections are narrative, while others include long digressions into matters philosophical, political, sociological, or biographical.In the introductory section, Wells describes himself as a "mental worker" whose "thoughts and work are encumbered by claims and vexations and I cannot see any hope of release from them"; in the conclusion, he says that he has "[written] himself out of that mood of discontent" and is resolved to devote the rest of his life to the "faith and service of constructive world revolution." "[I]n 1900 I had already grasped the inevitability of a World State and the complete insufficiency of the current parliamentary methods of democratic government," and Wells's devotion to "the great civilization of the future" is the dominant motif of the book.Wells emphasises his humble origins and the fortuitousness of his escape from the milieu in which he was born. Two broken legs were crucial. Wells's tibia was broken in an accident in 1874 when he was seven. During his weeks of recuperation he discovered the world of books. Three years later his father broke his leg in a fall—another "cardinal stroke of good fortune," Wells thought, because it forced his mother into employment and, as a result, the young Wells became a resident apprentice, a placement against which he rebelled. Had his father not broken his leg, he wrote, "I have no doubt I should have followed in the footsteps of Frank and Freddy and gone on living at home under my mother's care, while I went daily to some shop, some draper's shop, to which I was bound apprentice. This would have seemed so natural and necessary that I should not have resisted."Wells presents his career as a writer as the result of another happenstance: in 1887, when he was teaching at the Holt Academy in Wrexham, Wales, one of his kidneys was crushed in a football injury. A few weeks later he was coughing up blood, and tuberculosis was (probably mistakenly) diagnosed. Wells had to give up his job. Later, back in London, a dramatic relapse forced him to abandon teaching altogether in 1893, and to devote himself instead to writing. The work contains an abundant selection of the humorous sketches Wells called "picshuas" and produced mostly to amuse his second wife on an almost daily basis.
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original title: Experiment in Autobiography: Discoveries and Conclusions of a Very Ordinary Brain (since 1866)
language: English
date of publication: 1934
genre: autobiography
follows: The Shape of Things to Come
followed by: The New America: The New World

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