Acts of God

  • Robert Crossley

Abstract

It looks like the end of the world — or like any number of twentieth-century episodes in extermination. Gigantic, mobile machines of war vaporize country railway stations. Smoke rises above scorched ground where lately stood comfortable suburban houses. Refugees fill the roads and crowds of corpses lie unburied. A tranquil landscape has become a living hell. ‘What do these things mean?… Why are these things permitted? What sins have we done?’1 The questions asked by H. G. Wells’s agitated curate in The War of the Worlds are familiar human plaints in the face of unspeakable catastrophe. The curate’s desperate desire for an adequate interpretation of the initial deaths and mayhem caused by the Martian invaders in the suburbs of London, his querying of divine acquiescence in and human responsibility for the disaster are the distinctive human responses to catastrophe from the early modern era to the present.

Keywords

Burning Dioxide Corn Dust Europe 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    H. G. Wells, A Critical Edition of ‘The War of the Worlds’, ed. David Y. Hughes and Harry M. Geduld (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), p. 103.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Crossley

There are no affiliations available

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