Date: 2018-11-05 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
The People of the Abyss would be the Undeserving Poors, right?

Date: 2018-11-05 09:25 am (UTC)
estrevan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] estrevan
Right. Left-wing writers didn't usually call them undeserving, but everyone agreed they were inferior. Urban squalor bred people who were either congenitally sickly or unnaturally tough with an innate appetite for vice, according to the needs of the writer:

"Those that survive, survive because they possess excessive vitality and a capacity of adaptation to the degradation with which they are surrounded."

"The average [mother of British sailors] has been driven into the city, and she is not breeding very much of anything save an anaemic and sickly progeny which cannot find enough to eat. The strength of the English-speaking race to-day is not in the tight little island, but in the New World overseas"

(Both quotes from "The People of the Abyss" by Jack London.)

See also: Tolkien's orcs and goblins, and of course modern conservative attitudes.

Date: 2018-11-06 12:19 am (UTC)
narmitaj: Lunar Module looking like a face. (Default)
From: [personal profile] narmitaj
I gather by 1903 (the date of London's report) there was great concern in the UK about the ill health and unfitness of the British urban poor (presumably the rural poor were a bit fitter). According to this linked BBC article, nine out of ten potential recruits to the British army for the Boer War were rejected for being in dreadful physical condition... people wondered why Britain used 450,000 troops to defeat Boer forces that totalled 35,000 men, and it took three years, and caused a panic and a Commission on Inquiry There were reforms and I don't think there was such a level of physical unfitness in the next generation of cannon fodder for the Great War that was coming.

Date: 2018-11-06 05:35 am (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
This agrees with what I know of the plight of the British urban poor at the time. The Ghost Map has much to say about Victorian era cholera deaths in London, which killed tens of thousands. Once identified more water providers than not were willing to spend some money in order to prevent thousands of deaths, eventually, after some whining; no doubt ideological Libertarians will bemoan the unfairness of government interference in the divine right of money to sell water laden with feces.

The rural poor were, of course, mercifully out of sight in the countryside where writers didn't have to look at them.
Edited Date: 2018-11-06 05:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2018-11-06 06:25 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ndrosen
The rural poor probably got more wholesome food, and didn’t live in such crowded conditions, so they may have been healthier, even if they weren’t rich.

Date: 2018-11-06 01:59 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
For example: previous to the Famine, many visitors to Ireland wrote that while the cottiers were clothed in literal rags, they were perceptibly healthier than the poor of British cities at the time.
Of course, the pitfalls of your agricultural underclass being confined to a monocrop - no matter how nourishing - were soon demonstrated...

Date: 2018-11-06 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
The diet of the urban poor probably got even worse in everything except quantity in the decades before the Boer War as they were exposed to the joys of the early processed foods industry, when peas were a lovely copper sulphate green and red in candies might be mercury or lead.

Date: 2018-11-05 07:48 am (UTC)
glaurung: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glaurung
It would help to remember when reading this book that the Wright Brothers were still labouring in secret in 1907 when Wells wrote the novel. Other aviators were wowing crowds and winning prizes with heavier than air machines but none of them had managed to nail "staying in the air as long as you wish" or "turning quickly without crashing."

A few months after Wells's story appeared, the Wrights began making public demos of their airplanes in France and in the US, and everyone immediately saw that the Wrights had nailed both of those things.

So Wells' novel assumes a level of tech that was in the past but everybody at the time thought it was still in the future.

Date: 2018-11-05 08:15 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
Which doesn't prevent alternate history writers a hundred and eleven years later from assuming dirigibles are awesome weapons of war. :)
Edited Date: 2018-11-05 08:15 am (UTC)

Date: 2018-11-08 02:25 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)


Date: 2018-11-05 07:15 pm (UTC)
chrysostom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrysostom
Adam Roberts recently completed a read-through of everything Wells wrote (he's writing a literary biography of Wells), and, well, yes the racism. He did make *some* progress, but could never really shake the idea of eugenics being the key to a glittering future.

Date: 2018-11-06 05:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
Did he put some thoughts on his read-through up on the net?

(I dunno if it's possible to separate racism from eugenics, but if you think the differences between races are smaller than those within races, you could support sterilization of the "unfit" and so on without espousing racial warfare, as long as those other races also did the Right Thing with _their_ "people of the abyss.")

Date: 2018-11-06 05:46 am (UTC)
chrysostom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrysostom
Actually, he extensively blogged it, but took those offline, since he's making a book out of it all. Here's an archived version of the War in the Air piece.
From: (Anonymous)
… you can have racism without eugenics, but you can't have eugenics without racism, and always a genocidal racism at that. The only variety is that sometimes the eugenics genocidal racism is overt, and sometimes it is (or tries to be) covert.


TSM_in_Toronto (who thought the retrofuture imagery in GATTACA was pretty cool, regardless)

Date: 2018-11-07 09:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This exact edition has been sitting on one of my to-read piles for quite a while now.

Date: 2018-11-08 02:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you for getting around to reviewing H.G. Wells. :^)


Krum from Bulgaria

Date: 2018-11-09 02:08 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I missed identifying myself in that previous comment: This Penguin edition has been sitting on top of one of my piles of to-read books for a while now.

"Those Horrid Germans"

Date: 2018-11-09 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This book was written within a pre-WWI British literary genre sometimes called "Those Horrid Germans," concerned about the emasculation of the British (and especially English) race and the threat thereto of the German Empire. This is the context for the founding of the Boy Scouts movement. On the literary side, the best of the lot probably is "When William Came" by H. H. Munro (aka "Saki"). The genre also inspired a parody by none other than P. G. Wodehouse, "The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England." In the Wodehouse, every British military organization has been rendered ineffective and the country is simultaneously overrun by nine invading forces, ranging from Germany to "Bollygollans" in war canoes. England is saved by Clarence Chugwater, a dedicated Boy Scout who organizes them to overcome the invaders.

The 1984 movie Red Dawn is essentially an Americanized version, treating both the threat and the solution as serious. Which is pretty darned funny, actually.


james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

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