Monday, October 14, 2013

Christoforo Colombo Part 2: H.G. Wells

That's correct. Herbert George Wells, the "Father of Science Fiction"
The Outline of History Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind was first published in 1920. (This is the revised edition of 1961. Both sub-titles are correct.) Reviews were mixed, but it sold well!

From the Introduction, "The Story and Aim of the Outline of History":

"How had these things come about?"
In the next paragraph Wells continues, 
Men and women tried to recall the narrow history teaching of their brief schooldays and found an uninspiring and partially forgotten list of national kings or presidents. They tried to read about these matters, and found an endless wilderness of books. They had been taught history, they found, in nationalist blinkers, ignoring every country but their own, and now they were turned out into a blaze. It was extraordinarily difficult for them to determine the relative values of the matters under discussion. Multitudes of people ... were seeking more or less consciously to "get the hang" of world affairs as a whole. They were, in fact, improvising "Outlines of History" in their minds for their own use.
According the experts at Wikipedia, Wells develops several themes in the 1000+ page history. I'll enjoy picking this crappy old book up from time to time.

Turning now to 1492, I did not know that only one of the ships, the Santa Maria, "was decked; the other two were open boats." Holy cow.

About Columbus, Wells writes:
The story of that momentous voyage of two months and nine days must be read in detail to be appreciated. 
He then provides some detail, largely leaves out the part about Columbus being a terrible governor, and being sent back to Spain in chains-- "We cannot tell of his experiences of governor..."-- and reminds us that "... Columbus died ignorant of the fact that he head discovered a new continent."

Jumping ahead 521 years and two days... .

Today we celebrate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus and 87 other men, some of whom spent more than 70 days on little open boats heading west across an ocean full of sea monsters. And we celebrate some hunter dude who was lost in a California park for 18 days and had to eat lizards to survive. I'm glad he's safe & sound but that I even heard about this on a national news station is pathetic, don't you think?

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