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When the Sleeper Wakes (Modern Library…
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When the Sleeper Wakes (Modern Library Classics) (original 1899; edição 2003)

por H.G. Wells

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8361319,077 (3.11)52
A troubled insomniac in 1890s England falls suddenly into a sleep-like trance, from which he does not awake for over two hundred years. During his centuries of slumber, however, investments are made that make him the richest and most powerful man on Earth. But when he comes out of his trance he is horrified to discover that the money accumulated in his name is being used to maintain a hierarchal society in which most are poor, and more than a third of all people are enslaved. Oppressed and uneducated, the masses cling desperately to one dream that the sleeper will awake, and lead them all to freedom.… (mais)
Membro:nicola26
Título:When the Sleeper Wakes (Modern Library Classics)
Autores:H.G. Wells
Informação:Modern Library (2003), Edition: Modern Library, Paperback, 304 pages
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When the Sleeper Wakes por H.G. Wells (1899)

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https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3402306.html

I had read this as an undergraduate, but it was interesting to return to it in the light of Woody Allen and also Adam Roberts, whose work on Wells was nominated for the BSFA Award this year and two years ago. As with Sleeper, Wells' protagonist wakes after 200 years to find himself embroiled in a revolutionary conspiracy to overthrow the dictatorial system which has grown up in the meantime. In Wells' novel, Graham the Sleeper, discovers that due to complex inheritance procedures and careful investments by his trustees, the whole world is now being run as his property in his name. He teams up with the rebel Ostrog to take real power, and then discovers that Ostrog is as bad a dictator as the old regime; the book ends with Graham leading a dramatic air battle against Ostrog's forces.

It is lucidly written, and the Sleeper's fish-out-of-water experience of the future, and his gradual realisation (twice over) of the flaws of the system are well drawn. But there is precisely one named female character (and apparently Wells took out the romance sub-plot between 1899 and 1910; he also renamed the flying machines in the book for the 1910 text, since aeroplanes had been invented in the meantime). The ultimate demonstration of Ostrog's evil is that he suppresses revolt in Paris with security forces from Africa, and plans to do the same to England. Wells thought of himself (and was thought of by many) as the epitome of progressive thought in his day. To put it mildly, he had his blind spots as well. ( )
  nwhyte | Jun 9, 2020 |
This was a decent romp through a good idea about a man who "sleeps" for a period of two hundred years and then awakens. This is largely an exploratory novel, with a detailed setting that is made the focus rather than specifically on the characters involved. Overall, I thought it was intriguing and that it was decently written.

3 stars. ( )
  DanielSTJ | May 15, 2020 |
Kind of an odd dystopian novel about a man in 1890s England who falls asleep and wakes up 200 years later to find himself the richest and most powerful man on Earth. Shades of Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury with many many Wellsian ideas about social change and society. Highly cinematic - the writing is quite beautiful - and the descriptions of airplanes and warfare - which predate any such use - are truly awesome. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Is there any early sf subgenre where H. G. Wells doesn't wake up one day and think, "Well, I could do that better?" What The War of the Worlds did for the invasion narrative and The War in the Air for the revolution, The Sleeper Awakes does for the utopian sleeper story-- those peculiar stories where a fellow from the fin de siècle falls asleep and wakes up in far future, like Looking Backward or News from Nowhere (or, much less famously, Looking Within). Wells has actually thought about this would actually be like: there's no guided tour that shows the sleeper what the new world is like in precise detail, because people lie to him, people have their own agendas or biases, because people just take aspects of their own society for granted and don't even think to explain them. Also he even explains how the sleeper could sleep so long without, you know, just dying, and why people would want to keep him alive! It's this thinking-through of generic assumptions that makes Wells the first true science fiction writer, not to mention one of the best.

In that hallmark of good sf, much of what Graham (our sleeper) learns isn't through exposition, but through unfamiliar details. Years before Heinlein's door dilated, Graham runs into a collapsible wall! He watches television and deduces aspects of the future from it. And instead of being a utopia he encounters, it's a dystopia-- but when revolution comes, it's not a tidy one that replaces the ugly society with the beautiful. Wells is too good for that, too.
1 vote Stevil2001 | Jan 28, 2014 |
This was Wells's revised version of When the Sleeper Wakes, which was serialized and published in book form in 1899; the version I read was the 2005 Penguin Classics edition, with a Foreword by Patrick Parrinder and useful notes by my old friend Andy Sawyer of the Foundation.

On a walking holiday in northern Cornwall, a man called Isbister comes across another, Graham, in great distress: Graham has been suffering insomnia for days. Isbister takes him back home, but before he can summon medical attention Graham falls asleep at last, and indeed into a coma -- and what a coma! It lasts for two centuries. When Graham finally wakes it is into an almost unrecognizable world. In due course he finds that he essentially owns this world: at the time he fell asleep he had money of his own, and both his richer solicitor cousin and Isbister had left their fortunes to his somnolent form; compound interest has done the rest. In the modern age, a Council has for some time been ruling the world tyrannously, supposedly on his behalf, while his motionless form has been on display to a public who've come to regard him as a sort of messiah-in-waiting. It is of course a profound disaster to the Council that he has woken, and they try to keep the fact a secret from the people, while preparing to dispose of this inconvenient waker. But Graham is rescued and a successful revolution mounted by the demagogue Ostrog, a supposed Man of the People who's soon revealed as having intentions just as despotic as those of the ousted Council. (Ostrog's explanation of his behaviour includes a passage [p167:] that could have come straight out of Orwell's Animal Farm.) As Graham is taken on carefully guide tours of a domed and massively bloated London, and as he becomes aware of Ostrog's perfidy, his natural 19th-century radicalism begins to stir itself; and finally, having learned how to pilot one of these newfangled flying-machine things as a hobby, he takes to the air in an attempt to destroy  the demagogue as a second rebellion, this time genuinely of the people, seems on the brink of success . . .

According to the editorial material, in the years leading up to 1910 Wells had intended to write a sort of self-parody, but instead came out with this revision of his earlier novel. Signs of the self-parodic intention persist, as when Isbister and Graham's cousin discuss the sleeping man (after Isbister has [p21:] described the comatose Graham as "like a seat vacant and marked 'engaged'" -- beautiful!):

"He was a fanatical Radical -- a Socialist -- or typical Liberal, as they used to call themselves, of the advanced school. Energetic -- flighty -- undisciplined. Overwork upon a controversy did this for him. I remember the pamphlet he wrote -- a curious production. Wild, whirling stuff. There were one or two prophecies. Some of them are already exploded, some of them are established facts. But for the most part to read such a thesis is to realize how full the world is of unanticipated things." (p24)

I would say this must certainly be a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait by the same H.G. Wells who couldn't resist adding a snooty little footnote to the opening of Chapter 24, "While the Aeroplanes Were Coming":

These chapters were written fifteen years before there was any fighting in the air, and eleven before there was an aeroplane in the air.

Obviously Graham has difficulty acclimatizing himself to this future world. There's a sense throughout that, even as he flees terrified through a roiling nighttime mob or takes to the skies in a monoplane, he's not really a part of the activities despite the fact that he's in the midst of them. It's as if he hasn't quite left the world of sleep and is experiencing all this in the manner of a dream. To be honest, I found this a problem with the book: it's very difficult to become involved in the action when the protagonist seems incapable of doing likewise. Even when the door opens for Graham to the possibility of romance, with the attractive revolutionary Helen Wotton, Graham closes it again: his duty must come first.

Perhaps he's right to heed duty's call, for this is a ruthless and, for the powerful, self-indulgent age he's found himself in, with a lot of wrongs to be righted. The social structure has become enormously stratified, with the powerful elite having almost everything they could desire, the middle classes having just enough to keep them from riot, and a vast underclass who have nothing to live for and who are kept viciously downtrodden by social structures and no fewer than fourteen different categories of police. As example of the exploitation of these folk, Graham visits a factory (pp194-5) and finds many of the workers suffer a horribly disfiguring disease (the descriptions like that of phossy jaw) because of a fashionable purple dye they're handling. When he brings this to the attention of his companion, he gets a chilling response:

"But, Sire, we simply could not stand that stuff without the purple," said Asano. "In your days people could stand such crudities, they were nearer the barbaric by two hundred years."

Some of Wells's predictions are successful: in particular, he anticipates the development of windmills as a significant power source. His footnoted prediction of aircraft dogfighting is not nearly the success one might think, in that, far from trying to shoot each other down, the pilots use collision as a tool, the trick being to seriously disable your opponent while doing your own plane only tolerable damage. There's an interesting example of a prediction being since realized . . . but only in science fiction. Wells envisaged roadways whose surfaces moved to convey people from place to place; the central strips are slow-moving, but those strips further out are progressively more rapid, so that you can climb aboard the system near the centre and step easily from one strip to the next until you reach the fastest-moving strip of all, which is the one where you stay for the bulk of your journey. Around now, you'll doubtless be leaping from your seat shouting about Robert Heinlein's 1940 story "The Roads Must Roll" . . . Another prediction in this only-in-sf category is that the world will be using the duodecimal system. But then we find this:

But now he saw what had indeed been manifest from the first, that London, regarded as a living place, was no longer an aggregation of houses but a prodigious hotel, an hotel with a thousand classes of accommodation, thousands of dining halls, chapels, theatres, markets and places of assembly, a synthesis of enterprises [. . .:] People [of the middle classes:] had their sleeping rooms, with, it might be, antechambers [. . .:] and for the rest they lived much as many people had lived in the new-made giant hotels of the Victorian days, eating, reading, thinking, playing, conversing, all in places of public resort [. . .:] (p177)

I know plenty of people whose urban lifestyles are not so very dissimilar from Wells's description.

The extended travelogue-style sections, where we're supposed to boggle at the way world looks now, are pretty dull stuff -- and I suspect were so even when the book was first published. There's some appalling sexism in the book, but I suppose one can write that off as being a product of Wells's era. What I cannot excuse similarly is the racism. By the time Wells was writing, there were plenty of his compatriots who'd achieved sufficient enlightenment to realize that ghastly racial stereotypes like the ones in this novel -- the "subject races" (p172) are "fine loyal brutes" (p167) -- were purest bunkum and utterly loathsome. It gets worse. The final straw -- a major plot point -- that makes Graham resort to launching an uprising against Ostrog is that the latter plans to import "Negro police" to quell the rioting populace; not only are the "Negroes" prone to committing the kind of atrocities no white man would countenance, but "White men must be mastered by white men" (p202), and so forth. It's all quite unforgivable, and my estimation of Wells has plummeted. ( )
1 vote JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
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A troubled insomniac in 1890s England falls suddenly into a sleep-like trance, from which he does not awake for over two hundred years. During his centuries of slumber, however, investments are made that make him the richest and most powerful man on Earth. But when he comes out of his trance he is horrified to discover that the money accumulated in his name is being used to maintain a hierarchal society in which most are poor, and more than a third of all people are enslaved. Oppressed and uneducated, the masses cling desperately to one dream that the sleeper will awake, and lead them all to freedom.

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