The Wheels of Chance by H.G. Wells

One of the novel's lavish illustrations by J. Ayton Symington, who possesses an uncanny ability to capture in pen and ink, the humiliation and violence of "taking a spill"

Thanks Delta99 for reminding me of the True Purpose of this web log. The bicycle frenzy of National Bike Month left me temporarily bike-related-post-sated, but already, perhaps fueled by the purchase of a new “iron horse”, the urge to digress incessantly on the subject returns.  Fortune has smiled on us, however, by placing in my path a piece of literature –fiction no less–on cycling: an early H.G. Wells novel, The Wheels of Chance–a bicycling idyll.

The balance-challenged, middling Hoopdriver, protagonist-in-chief of this comic tale sallies forth on ten days holiday from his draper’s assistant position–a job Wells himself endured.  He crosses paths with a damsel in distress and inadvertently crosses sabers with the British class system and social mores of the day, falls off his bike, gets back on, etc., etc.  In  true Wellsian form, this is also a novel about social change with the increased mobility bicycles brought to the until-then geographically restricted middle classes.  This is also very much a novel about going on vacation–splendidly written.  You might consider the bicycle to be Wells’ original time machine.  Here’s a snip from chapter IV “The Riding forth of Mr. Hoopdriver”.  The Merc’s collection includes a handsome edition of this work, and it’s also widely available in electric format.  -Ed Scripsi

Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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