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First published in Britain and America in 1915 under the pseudonym Reginald Bliss, Boon (its full subtitle being the Mind of the Race, the Wild Asses of the Devil, and the Last Trump: Being a First Selection From the Literary Remains of George Boon, Appropriate to the Times. Prepared for Publication by Reginald Bliss, with an Ambiguous Introduction by H. G. Wells) is a caustic satire aimed at those who engage in literary pomposity and pretentious high-mindedness, and shows the bitter side of H. G. Wells.
The New York Times, in July 1915, described the book as ‘a criticism of literature and thought, of the lives of men and their defensive instinct, constantly at war with ”all the great de-individualizing things, with Faith, with Science, with Truth, with Beauty”‘.
Boon is presented as a ‘superannuated man of letters’ supposedly killed in the Great War, but when Bliss – his self-appointed ‘literary executor’ – discovers that Boon’s literary ‘remains’ are no more than a few sketches and jottings, he constructs a narrative from his own thoughts on Boon, his friends, conversations they had, and reconstructs from memory never-written works that Boon had described to him.
Among these pieces is the infamous parody of the late style of Henry James, all the more effective for being so distinctive a target. Describing James as the ‘culmination of the superficial type’, it is not surprising that the ‘indiscreet, ill-advised’ content of Boon, as Wells describes it in his ‘Introduction’, put a serious strain on the relationship between the two authors.
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