A MODERN UTOPIA. London: Chapman & Hall, Ld., 1905. Octavo, pp. [i-iv] v-xi [xii] 1-392  [394-396: blank] [note: last leaf is a blank], seven inserted plates with illustrations by Edmund J. Sullivan, original decorated red cloth, front and spine panels stamped in gold, t.e.g., other edges untrimmed. First edition. Presentation copy with signed inscription by Wells to Joseph Conrad on the half title page: "To Joseph Conrad / in Sunlight at Capri / From H. G. Wells / looking out at Rain / in the Channel. / April 10th, 1905." Conrad and Wells, contemporaries and successful authors of fiction whose layered depths have helped it to endure, were friends and, for a time, neighbors on the coast of Kent. The Polish immigrant was particularly grateful for the favorable notice he had received from Wells of his early work, and he dedicated THE SECRET AGENT to Wells. But they had very different backgrounds, temperaments and philosophies. “From early on in the relationship the two men were really working to convert each other -- Conrad to make Wells into a more traditional and less political writer, Wells to make Conrad a Fabian, a socialist, or at least a republican who could use his knowledge of the depths of men to illuminate possible future worlds.” - Smith, H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal, p. 163. The two corresponded, but most of Wells' letters have disappeared, making inscribed material such as this all the more valuable. A MODERN UTOPIA is the third of Wells's four books on modern socialism and his predictions on the social and economic world, preceded by ANTICIPATIONS (1901) and MANKIND IN THE MAKING (1903) and followed by NEW WORLDS FOR OLD (1908). "THE FOOD OF THE GODS was followed in 1905 by an explicit attempt at utopian design, A MODERN UTOPIA, whose presentation is a peculiar amalgam of essay and fiction. In an introductory note Wells offers it as the concluding work in a series begun with ANTICIPATIONS (1901) and continued with MANKIND IN THE MAKING (1903), a polemic on the appropriate nurture and education of the citizens of the future. It presents an image of an alternate world (incarnated for convenience on a hypothetical planet 'far in the deeps of space') run by the New Republicans of ANTICIPATIONS, here formalized into an Order of Samurai. Of the other developing social classes mentioned in ANTICIPATIONS, 'the element of irresponsible property' has been eliminated; the 'non-productive' speculators have been banished; and the poor inessential toilers are a dwindling minority of educational failures." - Stableford, Scientific Romance in Britain 1890-1950, p. 70 "... differs from earlier utopias in its emphasis upon the improvement of the race through the control of evolutionary development." - J. O. Bailey, Pilgrims Through Space and Time, p. 92. The impact of A MODERN UTOPIA was enormous, "winning him new admiration from such intellectuals as Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and William James, who said he had 'given a shove to the practical thought of the next generation.'" - Jack Williamson, H. G. Wells: Critic of Progress, pp. 121-5. "Wells' utopia is an authoritarian nightmare dividing people into four classes -- Poietic, Kinetic, Dull and Base -- the first consisting of clever types like Wells, the second of those energetic enough to carry out the ideas of the first class (but not so energetic as to come up with their own ideas), and the third and fourth of lesser clods who will not be allowed to reproduce. The book is a roadmap for a journey into the twentieth century's own Heart of Darkness. In his EXPERIMENT IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Wells contrasted his general outlook with Conrad's, recalling a day on the beach when they discussed how they would each describe a boat they were looking at. Conrad tended to see the object as a particularity demanding vividness, Wells as a generality demanding relevance, a member of a class important only for its relation to other classes and ideas, and ultimately of interest only for its relevance to his general philosophy. As with boats, so with people. (AUTOBIOGRAPHY, p. 528; recounted in Wagar, H.G. Wells and the World State, pp. 157-158.) This inscribed copy represents a fascinating intersection of two contrary (though not quite opposite) visions that have dominated much of modern thought and art: one that sees the vivid darkness at the heart of the individual, the other that sees a blur of light at the end of a dark communal tunnel." - Robert Eldridge. Anatomy of Wonder (1976) 2-168; (1981) 1-177; (1987) 1-101; and (1995) 1-101. Clareson, Science Fiction in America, 1870s-1930s 799. Gerber, Utopian Literature (1973), p. 144. Lewis, Utopian Literature, p. 206. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 227. Negley, Utopian Literature 1178. Sargent, British and American Utopian Literature, 1516-1985, p. 133. Stableford, Scientific Romance in Britain 1890-1950, pp. 70-1. Survey of Science Fiction Literature III, pp. 1429-34. Wells 25. Hammond E5. Wells Society 25. Inner hinges cracked, some age-darkening to endpapers (made up from pulp paper stock) with some offset on first and last leaves of the text block, else a very good copy with clean and bright binding. Enclosed in a quarter maroon morocco slipcase. (#130680).
No statement of printing.