Flying Machine, Parasite and Host


Three of my real-time reviews today…


H. G. WELLS: The Argonauts of the Air

“One saw Monson’s flying-machine from the windows of the trains passing either along the South-Western main line or along the line between Wimbledon and Worcester Park, –“

Probably the most exhilarating story you will ever read, one that remains exhilarating even at its ending’s ‘dying fall’, because of the pioneering spirit involved. It is a breath-taking description of what a pretty girl (who had written a novelette) named, off the cuff, as ‘Monson’s Folly’, thus triggering in its eponymous inventor, by wounded pride and spite, the impulse to bring forward its premature maiden flight…
It is is all BIG with contraption and imagination and a flapping amid a wide vista of tentacular style, with many people riveted watching it, when crowded on one side of a train, and it now seems in inverse synergy with Haddon’s Armageddon of a Pier here.

Reading it today, in its duly prescribed order of reading it, is also one of those astounding synchronicities that I often meet when real-time reviewing fiction, to the extent of making me believe that such synchronicities were meant-to-be as part of the preternatural literary gestalt! You see, I was reading and reviewing, this very morning, two works (Queen Of Clouds and Armed For A Day of Glory) that are in mutual synergy with this Wells.



“Even Broadway that morning was a discord in Vuyning’s ears; and in his eyes it paralleled for a few dreamy, dreary minutes a certain howling, scorching, seething, malodorous slice of street that he remembered in Morocco. He saw the struggling mass of dogs, beggars, fakirs, slave-drivers and veiled women in carts without horses, the sun blazing brightly among the bazaars, the piles of rubbish from ruined temples in the street – and then a lady, passing, jabbed the ferrule of a parasol in his side and brought him back to Broadway.”

Vuyning (pronounced ‘Vining’) tries to grapevine as both parasite and host to and from a ‘crook’ who stands around Broadway with other pruning penknifers, who seeks sartorial sense from Vuyning and the latter from the former more down to earth practical sense of the West and so forth with the outcome of his captivating the woman he had wooed for years to go West with him, if not to Morocco!
It may all mean something else, but that is what this tentacular syntax map of words meant to me. Story as both parasite and host; its reader, too! We all affect what we read to our own interpreted cut of its once multi-tailored bespokeness.



“Then the pleasure-machine started again, and, to the light-hearted girl, the figure of the handsome young man, the market-square with its lights and crowd, the houses beyond, and the world at large, began moving round as before, countermoving in the revolving mirrors on her right hand, she being as it were the fixed point in an undulating, dazzling, lurid universe, in which loomed forward most prominently of all the form of her late interlocutor. Each time that she approached the half of her orbit that lay nearest him they gazed at each other with smiles, and with that unmistakable expression which means so little at the moment, yet so often leads up to passion, heart-ache, union, disunion, devotion, overpopulation, drudgery, content, resignation, despair.”

A most amazing story with a boring title, so nobody might have read it because they thought it something else? — unless it makes circuit with the O. Henry story (‘Each According To His Ability’) about a man called Vuyning as both parasite and host, that I just this minute coincidentally read HERE?
The story of illiterate young woman Anna who attracts a highly literate older man by his sight of her at the wondrously described carousel-circuits of the steam-circus! But he accidentally touches the hand of Anna’s older, more literate and, as it happens, married mentor called Edith, older than the man who fancies Anna.
Edith, whose marriage is fragile, later writes vicarious love letters galore to him at the request of Anna who cannot write them herself, letters that take on their own momentum, eventually without Anna’s knowledge, but letters still in Anna’s name. And so the man falls in love with Anna while, unbeknownst, actually. falling in love with Edith. The outcome is poignant and everlasting. Paradox of parasite and host making this an unknown classic perhaps written by someone else about someone else to someone else. Yet, which one is the shadowy third? 

“…elbow other juniors habited like himself…”


Full contexts of above reviews:

Above image derives from:

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