Over the past two days I have been reading intently, the book 'H.G. Wells in Love'. It was published long after his death and is the postscript to his 'Experiment in Autobiography'. And it contains all of the sexual details which he left out of his autobiography proper. Wells was happily married and yet lived something of a rock-and-roll lifestyle; he was very famous and had sex with a lot of women! Some extracts:
In 1906, as I have told in my Autobiography, I went to America and talked to President Roosevelt the First. Our conversation was posed at a high level. After I left him that afternoon, I had a reaction. The air was warm and languorous, and I had nothing to do before dinner. I was faced by a frightful stretch of empty time, and at the time I did not want to think any more about my White House conversation. I called a cab and told the driver to take me to a "gay house." This was before the moral purgation of Washington. "White or Coon?" he said. It seemed to me that I ought to experience the local colour at its interest. "Coon," said I. (p.65)
One day we found in a copy of The Times we had brought with us, a letter from Mrs. Humphrey Ward denouncing the moral tone of the younger generation, apropos of a rising young writer, Rebecca West, and, having read it aloud, we decided we had to do something about it. So we stripped ourselves under the tree as though there was no one in the world but ourselves, and made love all over Mrs. Humphrey Ward. And when we had dressed again we lit a match and burnt her. The Times flared indignantly and subsided and wriggled burning and went black and brittle and broke into fragments that flew away. (p.89)
The things for which I must reproach myself in life are mainly little acute things; tactlessness and irritability with my parents, my elder brother and people dependent on me; making Jane unhappy at certain times and sometimes leaving her alone and uncomforted; humiliations I have inflicted - some like incurable little sores on my memory - pressure upon and actual cruelly to stupid small boys when I was a schoolmaster, killing a defenceless young rat with a walking-stick; fits of spiteful passion - for the most past innocuous. And sundry other stupidities. I never get the slightest regret out of any of my sexual irregularities. They were amusing and refreshing and I wish there had been more of them. One remembers them as events that occurred but without any realist recollection of details. It is like trying to recall the feeling of spring. (p.216)
He certainly seemed to have had a fun time. The first part of 'H.G. Wells in Love' is taken from the book published in honour of his dead wife, and I will admit that it nearly had me in tears! Wells loved his wife very much and she was aware of many of his affairs and his reputation as a ladies man. But she stood by him and they seemed to have had an extremely lovely life together. Wells loved other women (and had carnal relations with many) but he had a special bond with 'Jane' which even today, seems awkwardly modern.
Apparently, Sartre had a similar situation with his long-term partner, Simone de Beauvoir:
Yet in this lifelong relationship of supposed equals, he, it turned out, was far more equal than she was. It was he who engaged in countless affairs, to which she responded on only a few occasions with longer-lasting passions of her own. Between the lines of her fiction and what are in effect six volumes of autobiography, it is also evident that De Beauvoir suffered deeply from jealousy. She wanted to keep the image of a model life intact. There were no children. They never shared a house and their sexual relations were more or less over by the end of the war, though for much of their life and certainly at the last, they saw each other daily.
This is one of those questions in life, which is really very hard to get right. Did Wells and Sartre really have the best life, by having sex with lots of different women? I must admit that I understand completely Wells' motivation for acting on his impulses. He adored females. I know what that feels like. Not only was he getting extra-marital sex, he was also permitted to, by his wife. No getting in trouble with the missus! Certainly it must be many men's dream?
But I don't think I could live like Wells did (though he seemed to die happy). I just couldn't hurt the person that I 'love'. The desire is there to experience those 'pastures new', but the negatives must outweigh the positives. Everything is pointless, but when push comes to shove, you still have to open your eyes, pull out your flaccid penis, and look people in the eyes - and I don't know whether it is worth it (even with approval). What can I say? I'm a sensitive soul (ha).
Wells loved women, and they fell at his feet - offering themselves with little promise of anything but the briefest affair. Perhaps it would be too hard to resist?Go Top