Appendix to "The Inventor of Wikipedia?" -
Beryl Belsky's review of A Man of Parts, by David Lodge
Compiled by Graham Tritt (New Zealand/Switzerland)
My book club looked at H.G. Wells in 2009.
A great reference is http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/hgwells.htm and a list of his works at: http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/2/mullewells2bib.htm.
Many of his works can be found at:
Wells' Wikipedia idea appears in #95 - World Brain, 1938 (154ap): ten
addresses and articles on the establishment of a world encyclopaedia center
and on education in general.
The World Brain can be found at:
This World Encyclopaedia would be the mental background of every
intelligent man in the world. It would be alive and growing and changing
continually under revision, extension and replacement from the original
thinkers in the world everywhere. Every university and research institution
should be feeding it. Every fresh mind should be brought into contact with
its standing editorial organization. And on the other hand its contents
would be the standard source of material for the instructional side of
school and college work, for the verification of facts and the testing of
statements—everywhere in the world. Even journalists would deign to use
it; even newspaper proprietors might be made to respect it.
Such an Encyclopaedia would play the role of an undogmatic Bible to a world culture. It would do just what our scattered and disoriented intellectual organizations of today fall short of doing. It would hold the world together mentally.
It may be objected that this is a Utopian dream. This is something too great to achieve, too good to be true. I won’t deal with that for a few minutes. Flying was a Utopian dream a third of a century ago. What I am putting before you is a perfectly sane, sound and practicable proposal.
On the assumption that the World Encyclopaedia is based on a world-wide
organization he will be – if he is a worker of any standing – a corresponding associate of the Encyclopaedia organization. He will be able
to criticize the presentation of his subject, to suggest amendments and
re-statements. For a World Encyclopaedia that was kept alive and up to date by the frequent re-issue of its volumes, could be made the basis of much fundamental discussion and controversy.
You see how such an Encyclopaedic organization could spread like a nervous network, a system of mental control about the globe, knitting all the intellectual workers of the world through a common interest and a common medium of expression into a more and more conscious co—operating unity and a growing sense of their own dignity, informing without pressure or propaganda, directing without tyranny. It could be developed wherever conditions were favourable; it could make inessential concessions and bide its time in regions of exceptional violence, grow vigorously again with every return to liberalism and reason.
And this, in conclusion, just before Section II
I am not saying that a World Encyclopaedia will in itself solve any single one of the vast problems that must be solved if man is to escape from his present dangers and distresses and enter upon a more hopeful phase of history; what I am saying—and saying with the utmost conviction – is this, that without a World Encyclopaedia to hold men’s minds together in something like a common interpretation of reality, there is no hope whatever of anything bur an accidental and transitory alleviation of any of our world troubles. As mankind is, so it will I remain, until it pulls its mind together. And if it does not pull its mind together then I do not see how it can help but decline.
As to Wells' supposed use of the term "world wide web of knowledge," which Lodge attributes to him, this appears to be part of the author's literary license. Remember: A Man of Parts is a bio-novel, not a biography [BB].