5 August 2012

Recommended (fiction) reading: The Red Room

I stumbled across H.G. Wells' short story 'The Red Room' from 1894 a few months ago, at random, when I searched the words 'red' and 'room' on the internet, probably because I often like rooms that are red. For example, this is Henri Matisse's from 1908:

(Ir)rationales behind internet searches aside, I already had a mild interest in Wells (bottom), notably via his almost-namesake, director and actor Orson Welles (below) and that man's infamous radio play, 'The War of the Worlds'. The radio drama was based on Wells' sci-fi novel of the same name from 1898, which was aired in revised form by Welles for American radio on 30 October 1938, via the Columbia Broadcasting System.

The story, as the Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruise would suggest, is essentially about the Earth being taken over by aliens. As Welles' drama was aired in a newsreel format and coincided with mounting fears about WWII it caused mass panic, with many people in the north-east of the USA and Canada actually fleeing their homes.

World wars aside, 'The Red Room' deals in what is potentially the root of many conflicts: fear. The red room in Wells' story comes to represent those conditions or mind-sets in which we allow fear to perpetuate itself, growing inside the system/mind and poisoning all other faculties. As the protagonist of Wells' story exclaims at the end:

"The worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal men," said I; "and that is, in all its nakedness—'Fear!' Fear that will not have light nor sound, that will not bear with reason, that deafens and darkens and overwhelms. It followed me through the corridor, it fought against me in the room—"

To read 'The Red Room', visit: gutenberg.org/files/23218/23218-h/23218-h.htm


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer posts Older posts