The Passionate Friends
The Passionate Friends is cast in the form of the autobiography of a middle-aged man, Stephen Stratton, ostensibly written for his son to read in adult life. The device is of considerable interest in the light of Wells’s earlier comment to Henry James: The only artistic “first person” is the onlooker speculative “first person”, and God helping me, this [The New Machiavelli] shall be the last of my gushing Hari-Karis.’ In April 1911 he gave James the firm impression that he intended to write no more autobiographical novels written in the first person, yet barely a year later we find him doing so on an even broader canvas. Where The Passionate Friends differs from its predecessors is precisely in the confessional form Wells chose to adopt, a device which permitted him to lay bare his innermost thoughts to the reader.
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