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No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own.
HG Wells, The War of the Worlds (1897)
Since it's Easter and I therefore have a four day weekend, I've been doing some serious work on the novel. Friday was sunny, so I cleared the garden enough to be able to sit out in an old wicker chair with a large cup of tea and a very fat book from the library on the social history of London in the 1890s. I even managed to fall asleep over it. Waking up, I read the chapters on mysticism and on imperialism. In the latter I found the HG Wells quote. Back when I wrote History 101, I naughtily stole and reworked the opening line of Nineteen Eighty-Four. I can justify that: it introduces the key elements of time, history and Orwell with two simple sentences. I only wish there was some jusitfication for borrowing this opening line from War of the Worlds but I can't and am having to struggle with creating my own. Nevertheless the line is wonderfully appropriate and I am anxious to make use of it in some way. Although not as anxious as these people were: Radio play upsets Americans (the original 1938 report from the Guardian's online archive {via})

I also realised something else with all constant musing on the novel. It's not really a spoiler to the three of so people who read this and who will read the novel for me to reveal that it will have 33 chapters and that this number is deliberate and significant in terms of the plot. It wasn't until this last week, when I had my birthday and got the inevitable "same age as Jesus"* comments at my age, that I realised the number of chapters is also the number of years of my life. Very odd and, as one of those people who sees patterns in numbers, I am of course convinced it is significant. I will be encountering the number 33 endlessly this summer, just as I couldn't stop spotting 101 a couple of years back.

*the same age as he was when he was crucified. Not two thousand and a bit.

Posted @ 2:11 pm on Sunday, April 11, 2004
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