H.G.Wells -His Social Observations – and a couple of new words

I continue to read H.G. Wells, and now am reading “The Food of the Gods”. At first you think this is just another science fiction story of man messing with the natural order and things go terribly wrong. But it is soon evident that it is also about the crowds of hangers-on who feed the headlines… it’s the same in 1898 as it is now it seems:

On Fame: The Food of the Gods, Chapter IV, I

The public mind, following its own mysterious laws of selection, had chosen him (Bensington, one of the creators of the “Food of the Gods”) as the one and only responsible Inventor and promoter of this new wonder…

Before he was aware of the drift of these things, Mr. Bensington was, so to speak, stark and dissected upon the hoardings…

Resolute young men with large expensive-looking cameras and a general air of complete authorization took possession of the (his) flat for brief but fruitful periods, let off flash lights in it that filled it for days with dense intolerable vapour, and retired to fill the pages of the syndicated magazines with their admirable photographs…

two extremely charming young ladies (groupies?) , totally unknown to him (oh my!) , called and… had tea with him and afterwards sent him their birthday books for his signature ( how quaint… wait, what is a birthday book? It’s a diary where you record your birthday events and your friends’ as well). (He discovered) in the reviews articles written about Boomfood (his discovery) and himself in a tone of the utmost intimacy by people he had never heard of.

At first… the tone of the public mind was quite free from any touch of hostility…The sort of thing that pleases the public mind were caricatures of eminent politicians after a course of Boom-feeding (on the Food of the Gods, which made things grow to a huge size). Beyond that the public did not care to look…

”There’s always somethin’ New,” said the public-a public so glutted with novelty that it would hear of the earth being split as one splits an apple without surprise, and “I wonder what they’ll do next.” (Wow, isn’t novelty and the New a daily, no hourly occurrence now???)

New Words: The Food of the Gods, Chapter IV, III

“…people who used to see him almost daily teufteufing slowly about Hyde Park..” What is this “Teufteufing”? Apparently it is an onamonapaeic word that is supposed to sound like early automobiles, like a Model T.

“She… Ajaxed a little, and retired to her own room, where she lived almost exclusively on chicken broth for three days.” What is Ajaxing? Ajax was a mythological Greek hero, the son of King Telamon and Periboea, and the half-brother of Teucer grandson of the god Zeus. He plays an important role in Homer‘s Iliad. After Achilles death, both Ajax and Odysseus want to claim Achilles magical armor. They have to argue their case to a council to determine who gets the armor. Odysseus wins, since he is most eloquent. Ajax is angry and kills himself by falling on his sword.   The Oxford English Dictionary states that to ajax is to complain about something


About Don Segal

See Commentary, Photos, Drawings and Poetry on my blog at donsegal.wordpress.com.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Greek Mythology, journalism, Science Fiction, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to H.G.Wells -His Social Observations – and a couple of new words

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