Tono Bungay


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(1909)


Widely regarded as Wells's finest novel. Combining futuristic science fiction and contemporary social satire. In it, George Ponderovo is apprenticed to his Uncle Edward, a dynamic chemist who invents a bogus medicine, Tono-Bungay, and earns a vast fortune. But as he witnesses Edward's spectacular rise, he also contemplates the corrupt English society that allows his uncle to wield so much power. No other writer has the breadth of Wells to encompass both George's personal breakdown and the full panorama of a degenerate imperial society.

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Herbert George Wells -- better known as H. G. Wells -- was a prolific writer. His works largely fall into three genres: 1) science fiction; 2)social commentary and critique; and 3) popular summaries of history and science topics. Today he is mainly remembered for his science fiction. "Tono Bungay" is an unusual work in that it straddles two of these genres: it is both science fiction and social commentary. Many consider it to be the best of Well's works. The novel follows the rise and fall of an empire built on a quack medicine. The medicine, Tono Bungay, gives the book its title. There is little question the name is a play on words. It has been suggested it stands for "ton of bunk" -- but other possibilities are "tonic bunk", or even "tonic Ben-gay." Regardless of what it stands for, it is clear that Tono Bungay is not entirely good for you, and probably harmful in the long run. The short-term effects are however sufficiently pleasing so as to make a fortune for its inventor. Wells -- being Wells-- adds doses of science fiction. Often these are only remotely related to the main topic. Such is the case for the various experiments in air travel which make up a substantial part of the book. Yet another science fiction episode concerns a mysterious ore, which appears to be radioactive. Ostensibly, the purpose of this ore is to provide Tono Bungay a new infusion and lease on life. Radioactivity had only recently been discovered when Wells wrote this novel, and indeed was very mysterious . Wells treats the radioactive ore as something that fundamentally corrupts all that it touches -- not unlike in the 50's film "The Blob."--Submitted by Anonymous


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Recent Forum Posts on Tono Bungay

Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells

This novel might well have been written in 1909, but it certainly has a relevance today. Think of the way in which the power of advertising has a profound influence over a willingly gullible public, especially in the field of so called 'health products'. Think what George's uncle might have achieved by way of today's mass media, especially tv advertising! On this theme alone (and there are many others in the book, such as various kinds of 'love ' and 'desire'), this book has as much meaning for the 21st century, as it had for the beginning of the twentieth.
There is an excellent edition, in hardback, in the 'House of Stratus' series, for the reasonable price of 9.99 (pounds sterling). Read it!!


No Subject

just beginning novel --so far no comment. I'd like to hear others opinions or is it out of date?


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