“If I offend, it is their fault!” said Boon hotly. “Criticism can have no friendships. If they like to take it ill .… My criticism is absolutely honest .… Some of them are my dearest friends.”
“They won’t be,” said Wilkins, “when all this comes out …”
Boon is probably the most referenced and the least discussed novel that H.G. Wells wrote.
Just about every book about Wells that I have read, and I have read quite a lot in recent years, includes some mention of Boon. But when they do mention the novel it is always and only with reference to the infamous Chapter Four.
Okay, Chapter Four is where Wells dramatically and publicly burned his bridges with Henry James. It is one of the more spectacular attacks on a fellow writer and supposed friend that you are likely to read. And the long term consequences were severe: you can trace back to this chapter the fact that Wells was effectively discounted as a serious novelist by the modernist critics who dominated most of the twentieth century.
But it is worth putting that attack into some sort of context, which is what the rest of the novel provides. Continue reading