18 OCTOBER 1940, Page 22

The Second Deluge

MR. WELLS'S new fable opens with the sad Mr. Noah Lammock, seated at his desk writing nothing. " The cold realisation of final defeat " has " closed about his heart." As God in this story identifies Mr. Lammoch with Mr. Wells in spite of his protests- " I never wrote The Time Machine "—the reader may be for- given for making the same mistake and seeing Mr. Lammock as that baffled idealist who planned The Great Conspiracy, and believed that airmen might yet save the world. It is a frank and delightful self-portrait • Mr. Lammoch, once he gets involved in argument with the old gentleman from the lunatic asylum who claims quite rightly to be God, soon forgets his despair. He is quite prepared—on certain conditions, of course —to set sail in the Ark and start a new world. He is a near- heroic figure as he makes his final claim : " No man is beaten until he knows and admits he is beaten, and that I will never know nor admit." Never mind the arid core of his new world- " Atheist, Creative, Psycho-synthetic " ; never mind the wooli- ness of his desires—" We want, on the one hand, an incessant, relentless process of the will and intelligence, protected in some way from disintegrating influences, and on the other hand we want a broad appeal to ordinary people which will anticipate and protect . . . " Even at his vaguest Mr. Wells retains an enor- mous creative drive, and his new book will be read by all those who remember with pleasure his short story, " A Vision of Judgment," for its humour, and for the odd incongruous vein of poetic feeling which once, in the days of Mr. Polly, made Mr. Wells a novelist of genius. God discussing with wit his own Book and the morals of the first Mrs. Noah, God worried by his shadow, Satan, God pursued by the doctor and attendants of a lunatic asylum—there may be people who will be offended by Mr. Wells's Divinity, but if so they have missed entirely that curious love of a God who doesn't, in his view, exist, that tender- ness for a phantom which has dug itself into Mr. Wells's brain.

" Since I made man in my own image how could I be anything but a very human God? . . . How could I know how they would hum- bug me about? From first to last my fault has been trustfulness. I am the Eternal Optimist. People say ' God is Love.' Far truer that ' God is Hope.' "