21 Following


When the Sleeper Wakes

When The Sleeper Wakes - H.G. Wells I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book. It certainly has its flaws but there is something about it that I rather enjoyed.

Graham falls into a Cataleptic trance for two hundred years (in which he does not age, nor require sustenance of any kind) and awakes into a dystopian society that is on the cusp of revolution. He finds that he has, thanks to compound interest and a committee of shrewd investors, become owner of most of the world's wealth. This committee now effectively rules the world on his behalf but is not so happy about his unexpected re-awakening. Graham gets swept up in a revolution and a violent struggle for power as he attempts to reorient himself to the changed times.

Written in the late nineteenth century, this vision of the future is hopelessly outdated but is more interesting as an insight into the times in which it was written than for it's prophetic qualities. While he does foresee an improved state of equality between the sexes, the racial attitudes on show in this book are quite alarming. The "viscous Negro brutes" are brought in to suppress the white man of England and the N-word is used. I'm usually quite tolerant to the racial attitudes of authors in the past but even I was uncomfortable at times.

The descriptions of the city and environment in which the protagonist finds himself can be quite overwhelming and confusing at times but I suppose this reflects the way the Graham would have felt in the fact of such a changed world.

An interesting story but I can see why it is not among his most well remembered works.