New Machiavelli, The
The Prince, The New Machiavelli
a novel by H. G. Wells, published in 1911. Wells's first-person narrator, Richard Remington, resembles the author of The Prince in being a politician in exile, his career in ruins, dreaming of a strengthened and more perfect state. The narrative traces his intellectual and emotional formation and his adventures among the Edwardian political intelligentsia. Graham Wallas, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and Arthur Balfour are among those who appear under thin disguises. Remington marries the politically ambitious Margaret, becomes a Liberal Member of Parliament, and founds a political weekly. As a member of a cross-party dining club, the Pentagram Circle (modelled on the Coefficients Club to which Wells had belonged), he comes under the influence of the Tory imperialists and changes sides at the time of the 1909 Budget. His platform of feminism, universal education, and a ‘trained aristocracy’ has some populist appeal, but neither his wife nor his new allies are very convinced by it. Finally, he abruptly abandons politics and leaves England with his new lover, Isabel Rivers. The novel offers vivid commentary on the London political scene, and portrays with considerable insight the mixture of power-lust, sexual indulgence, and public censoriousness which has led to the downfall of prominent British politicians both before and after Wells's time. It is one of the very few twentieth-century novels of high politics to transcend the limitations of the ‘political thriller’. Unfortunately, The New Machiavelli's weakest point, in an avowed ‘discussion novel’, is the woolly, sentimental sloganizing of what are offered as Remington's ideas.