DID WELLS HAVE SOME PREJUDICES                                                   
        A recent biography by Michael Coren, the author states that Wells
had some bigotries of his own. Lest we hastily set up any shrines to
Wells as someone who saw through ALL the idiocies and hypocrisies of his
day, we should note some instances of Wells' own narrowness.
On the Jews:
        Wells was no respecter of any kind of nationalism.  He opposed
the fascist nationalists in 1930s Europe, but was less-than-kind to
anyone who placed hope in nationalism.  This included the Jewish people
who espoused a national homeland called Israel for their people.
        Israel Zangwill, a noted Jewish playwright, was Wells' friend
for years but they split over Wells intransigent belief that all would
be better for the Jews and all other groups if they gave up such 
special pleadings for one group, such as Zionism.  The author Michael
Coren points out a conversation that Wells had with a Jewish man (one
he often told of) in the late 1930s, 
        The man asked what he (Wells) thought would happen to the
        Jews of Europe.  Wells told the man that he would rather be
        asked "What is going to happen to mankind?" 
        "But my people. . . ." 
        "That," he interrupted, "is exactly what's the matter with
        them." (Coren p. 217)
        Israel Zangwill became frustrated with this attitude of Wells'
and accused him of a "conscious prejudice against Jews and an unconscious
prejudice in favor of Christianity."  That latter part of this accusation
has little evidence for justification, because Wells saw how systems of
religion appeared to be falling into line with nationalisms and fascist
parties all over Europe.  He was highly critical of religion in and before
World War II. The Catholic Church and other religions in Europe have
yet to give a full accounting of the level of involvement of clergy in
fascist governments in the 1930s, so it is difficult to say whether Wells'
criticisms were exaggerated.  As long as such data remain suppressed, 
there is no way to know.
        What appears from these quotations and the surmises of the author
Michael Coren is that here is a man who saw dangers in structures and 
systems, he saw people unable to think for themselves because of the ways
in which traditional values were being manipulated by rightist politicians
and clergy.  He lashed out too often and too conclusively against all
the adherents of traditional values (nationalisms, religions). The context
of the times must be thoroughly studied to understand why Wells said what
he did. But in any assessment of a writer who takes on social themes and 
issues, one should always be wary of a "one correct point of view" position.
At times, Wells, in his reforming zeal, showed evidence of allowing for
no shades of gray, allowing for no cases where the facts called for some
other way than his program.
        To read the full account of where Wells may have erred in allowing
his system analysis to blind him to notable exceptions that should have been 
considered, see
        _THE INVISIBLE MAN: The Life and Liberties of H. G. Wells_.
        by Michael Coren. London: Bloomsbury Press, 1993.
     In the meanwhile, this second book has appeared to answer Mr. Coren's

        _HG: THE HISTORY OF MR. WELLS_ by Michael Foot.
        ISBN 1-887178-04-X
        New York: Counterpoint, 1995.

     IN _HG_, the author states that it is only through OMISSION of
important citations that Mr. Coren is able to construct such a negative
profile of Wells.  
    Here's one example of Foot's refutations of the charges that
HG Wells was anti-Semitic. He asks if an anti-Semite would ever 
        "I really do not understand the exceptional attitude that
        people take against the Jews.  The Jew is mentally and
        physically precocious and he ages and dies sooner than
        the average European; but in that and in a certain 
        disingenuousness he is simply on all fours with the short,
        dark Welsh.  He foregathers with those of his own nation
        and favors them against the stranger, but so do the Scotch.
        I see nothing in this curious, dispersed nationality to dread
        or dislike.  He is a remnant and legacy of Medievalism, a
        sentimentalist, perhaps, but no furtive plotter against progress
        of things.  He was the Medieval Liberal; his persistent existence
        gave lie to the Catholic pretensions all through the days of
        their ascendendency, and today he gives lie to all our 'yapping
        nationalisms', and sketches in his dispersed sympathies the 
        coming of the world state.  Much of his moral tradition will, 
        I hope, never die."  (from _Anticipations_, 1901, the book 
                                that Coren quotes to "prove" that 
                                Wells was an anti-semite.)
        On Eugenics, p. 61, footnote.  "When he saw that some critics were
                interpreting what he had written in _Anticipations_
                in what might be called 'racist' terms despite his
                disavowel -- he took precautions in _A Modern Utopia_
                to guard against such a misplaced and even malicious
                interpretation. . ."
        On the British hatred of education and suppression of colonial
                peoples, p. 48
                He describes the rebuffs felt by educated Indians when
                they try to add their voices to British literature.
                "The Hindoo who is at pains to learn and use English
                encounters something like hatred disguised in a facetious
                form.  He will certainly read little about himself that
                is not grossly contemptuous to reward him for his labor."
        On his differences from centralizing tendencies of many socialists.
        p. 88
                "The secular development of administrative socialism
                gives  the world over to a bureaucratic mandarinate,
                self-satisfied, interfering and unteachable, with whom
                wisdom would die.  And yet we Socialists can produce
                in our plans no absolute bar to these possibilities."
                (He goes on to suggest some alternatives and general
                ideas to avoid such centralizing tendencies...)
     This raises some general questions in my mind and, I hope, in

     *  How can we as readers tell when a biographer is using selective
        quoting to make an author look one way or another?

     *  Can any one source be said to provide the "truth" about its

     *  How can we allow for the human failings of the subject of biography
        without allowing for any kind of one-sided presentation.  What
        can we do in our own essays to present the subject as best we can?