Art as the Cognition of Life

H.G. Wells about Soviet Russia

On H. G. Wells’s 1921 account of his visit to Soviet Russia the year prior, Russia in the Shadows.

What I find most interesting is his characterisation of Wells as one of the last and best representatives of his class—the liberal intelligentsia, a member of the upper-middle class stratum of intellectuals who still held some moral scruple, in defence of historical truth, such as John Dewey. (p.42)

The thoughts and opinions presented by Wells in his book about Russia are highly characteristic of a very large layer of the best representatives of the society that is exiting from the scene. This is what always happens when the old world gives way to the new. People surface who are linked with their own past through upbringing, everyday life, habits, and tastes. But they are bold, intelligent, and honest enough to renounce the animal fear of this new world. They will see in time that the old is disintegrating and decomposing, and that the new represents the future of mankind. These are Sauls turning into Pauls.

Some of them have already arrived in Damascus, others are on their way. We do not care to prophesy with regards to Wells; this is a boring and fruitless exercise. But we must say visions of the new world passed through Wells’s mind whilst he was in Russia…