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The Inner House

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The Inner House

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Author: Walter Besant
Publisher: Greenhill Books, 1986
Harper & Brothers, 1888
Original English publication, 1888
Series: Greenhill Science Fiction Series: Book 1
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Utopia
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An excerpt of a review from The Unpopular Review, Volume 10, December, 1918:

...WHEN we come to The Inner House by Sir Walter Besant, we find a Utopia that strikes at the very root of the Utopian idea, -- man's desire for a society without drawbacks. To Sir Walter, all Utopias are bad. The craving for them is most harmful. For man to follow the line of least resistance all through life, and to encounter no obstacles in his path, would result in a moral flabbiness that would mean his downfall. The working effect of a society in which there is no struggle for existence is pictured in the Inner House with convincing probability. Hardships are unknown, and the citizens, having overcome all dissatisfaction with conditions, are left in torpor and apathy, stupid and sluggish, for lack of any "large and liberal discontent."

In the land of The Inner House there is no more death or pain. The physicians of the House of Life have made the Great Discovery, how to abolish both pain and death. The result is that Religion and Love have perished from the land. How could Religion survive the removal of Death? "We fear not Death and, therefore, need no religion," the people say. "Without the certainty of parting, Religion droops and dies.... He who is immortal and commands the secrets of Nature so that he shall neither die, nor grow old, nor become feeble nor fall into any disease, feels no necessity for any religion." Love too disappears. But one thing kills Love. It cannot live long while the face and form know no change. Only at the price of abandoning the Great Discovery can Love be revived. The people rise up and throw off their effortless existence, for the sake of the Greater Discovery, "that to all things earthly there must come an end." The inhabitants realize in regard to their loved ones that "the very reason why they clasp them is because they die."

Utopias have their uses; The Inner House is needed to show their possible abuses, and it stands out as the great warning to all Utopians.




"Professor!" cried the Director, rushing to meet their guest and lecturer as the door was thrown open, and the great man appeared, calm and composed, as if there was nothing more in the wind than an ordinary Scientific Discourse. "You are always welcome, ray friend, always welcome"--the two enthusiasts for science wrung hands--"and never more welcome than to-night. Then the great mystery is to be solved at last. The Theatre is crammed with people. What does it mean? You must tell me before you go in."

The Physicist smiled.

"I came to a conviction that I was on the true line five years ago," he said. "It is only within the last six months that I have demonstrated the thing to a certainty. I will tell you, my friend," he whispered, "before we go in."

Then he advanced and shook hands with the President.

"Whatever the importance of your Discovery, Professor," said the President, "we are fully sensible of the honor you have done us in bringing it before an English audience first of all, and especially before an audience of the Royal Institution."

Copyright © 1888 by Walter Besant


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