The final chapter of H. G. Wells’s novel, Tono-Bungay (1909) has
given rise to surprisingly wide differences of opinion among commentators.
Geoffrey West, an early admirer of the novel, thought
that ‘in the last chapter, one of the most splendid passages Wells
has ever written, is focused the whole spirit of the book’; more
recently J. R. Hammond referred to the chapter’s ‘series of brilliant
images’ and considered it ‘one of the most carefully written . . . in
the whole corpus of [Wells’s] fiction’. At the opposite extreme
from these views is Mark Schorer’s familiar dismissal of Tono-
Bungay in his essay ‘Technique as Discovery’ (1948) and his
condemnation of the final chapter as a ‘significant failure’ because
it is merely ‘a kind of meditative rhapsody which denies every
value that the book has been aiming towards’.