Month: June 2013

H. G. Wells and his use of certain words in connection with the Middle East

I had always thought that words like Jihad came into the English vocabulary very recently until I read a story written by H. G. Wells well over a hundred years ago.

It contained the words:

and from Gobi to Morocco rose the standards of the "Jehad."

I have read many of H. G. Wells’ works of fiction, but I never saw one as full of sad forebodings about the immediate future as “The War in the Air”.

The theme of the story seems to be progress.  Wells argues that progress is not a given, that all the progress of centuries can be reversed if due care is not taken.

Here are some passages from the story:

The accidental balance on the side of Progress was far slighter and
infinitely more complex and delicate in its adjustments than the people
of that time suspected

The following would be quite controversial today:

the growth in their midst of an evil-spirited press, mercenary and
unscrupulous, incapable of good, and powerful for evil.

Quite contrary to our acceptance of the importance of press freedoms today, but there it is.

Wells painted a picture of a very pessimistic outcome from religious divisions in the middle East (and in India, I am sorry to say).

But what is astonishing is that he painted it using terms still in use today.

And Wells lived a hundred years ago.

Anyone who wants to read the story can find it on the Project Gutenberg website: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/780/pg780.txt

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