Tono-Bungay (Penguin Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/6/28
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One of the greatest of all satires of the power of advertising and the modern press
Presented as a miraculous cure-all, Tono-Bungay is in fact nothing other than a pleasant-tasting liquid with no positive effects. Nonetheless, when the young George Ponderevo is employed by his Uncle Edward to help market this ineffective medicine, he finds his life overwhelmed by its sudden success. Soon, the worthless substance is turned into a formidable fortune, as society becomes convinced of the merits of Tono-Bungay through a combination of skilled advertising and public credulity. As the newly rich George discovers, however, there is far more to class in England than merely the possession of wealth.
This edition includes a newly established text, a full biographical essay on Wells, a list of further reading, and detailed notes. Edward Mendelson’s introduction explores the many ways in which Tono-Bungay satirizes the fictions and delusions that shape modern life.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
“Wells is less a man of letters than a literature.” —Jorge Luis Borges商品の説明をすべて表示する
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George Ponderovo, whose life story closely parallels that of the author in many respects, is the rebellious son of a housekeeper for the English landed gentry. After a set-to with a social superior, George is farmed off to his uncle, Edward Ponderovo, a small-town pharmacist who dreams of rising to the highest pinnacles of British society. To this end, Edward starts peddling a worthless patent medicine, and soon enough parlays his initial success into an ever-expanding financial empire based on little more than savvy advertising and wishful thinking. Inevitably, however, the bubble bursts and there is a price to pay for all involved.
Wells's novel is a brilliant dissection of a society adrift, whose Old Order, based upon land and hereditary privilege, has been fatally undermined, but whose New Order are a bunch of rapacious, self-centered and amoral commercial hucksters preying on the credulous and greedy. A motif running through the novel is one of moral and social corruption: a society that has blindly accepted perpetual "growth" as the only desirable goal, not realizing that this same unhealthy and unsustainable cancerous "growth" is, in fact, destroying it. The resonances with 2012 are absolutely chilling.
Further, Wells shows genius on the confusions and rationalizations of young love, still fettered in 1909 by very Victorian ideas of propriety and sublimation. The very long "Marion" chapter is one of the most brutally honest accounts of falling in love for the first time that I've ever read, and a highlight of the book.
Regrettably, however, the novel loses focus in a very big way in its last 100 pages. Up to that point, I was prepared to hail it as a "masterpiece," but then, alas, it runs badly off the rails. The last of the protagonist's love affairs (with a member the landed aristocracy he first knew a boy) is full of wincingly overwrought, utterly implausible dialogue; and a trip to Africa on a desparate mission to rescue the Ponderovo empire seems under-written and ill-conceived, even as it glancingly touches on some of the horrors of British Colonialism. This, and a very melodramatic "escape" and death-bed scene, seriously soured me on the novel.
Still, the first 2/3 of the book is so superb that the novel deserves more attention and respect. And if the ending is very flawed, it's flawed in interesting ways. More people should read this novel and see how very, very little has, in fact, changed during the last 100 years.
Sections of the book are incredibly long-winded. There are too many anecdotes that, in my opinion, do not contribute to the flow of the story or any major themes or motifs in the book. This is major flaw in the book. There isn't good flow. Tono-Bungay reads as if it is a combination of different stories. This can go two ways: the book can more amazing or a disorganized mess. Tono-Bungay feels so disorganized. The narrator jumps from one story to next and then tries to make them connect but it didn't work me.
The overall plot seems interesting and there are many interesting turning points in the book but the excitement of those turning points isn't delivered. The book, plain and simple, is boring. It felt like I was trying to read a textbook like a novel. Reading it made me sleepy. I barely made it through.
Tono-Bungay isn't a bad book but it isn't good either. A lot could have been said about money, socio-economic status, and the values that come from them but it just didn't happen.
Also in this Penguin edition Prof Mendelson's footnotes are highly suspect. Suspect on facts- Tristan & Isolde is not by a long way Wagner's 1st opera, and suspect when speculating- in the final Thames river journey "Astor's strong box" is far more likely to mean the Astor Estate Office at 2 Temple place than it being a private joke or a building in Holborn that would not be visible from the river.